Steep-Slope Roller Cuts Cost by a Third

By Larry Stewart, Executive Editor | September 28, 2010

Sakai CV550D compactor

Sakai CV550D climbs and compacts a steep slope built for the Rome, Ga., landfill.

COMANCO Environmental Corp. bought the first two of Sakai's CV550 compactors available in North America because the track-driven rollers can climb the 45-degree slopes of landfill cells. The Florida-based contractor has completed hundreds of environmental-protection projects. Building solid-waste containment demands compliance with strict federal mandates, including dense compaction of steep slopes, and the environmental sensitivity makes the projects hard to finish profitably.

Usually, a bulldozer with a winch pulls a compactor up the slope. It's far from cost effective. According to Steve Kitzmiller, a COMANCO project manager, the approach "certainly cut our margins, especially when we were having difficulty making density and required additional passes."

Other alternatives included pulling 1,000-pound vibratory plate compactors up the slopes using an excavator boom, or simply tracking up and down the slopes with a dozer.

Using Sakai's CV550 in place of a conventional roller and dozer with winch saves about $3,000 per month, or nearly a third of the total equipment cost for compacting slopes. It is said to halve the labor cost.

"Improved safety is the biggest advantage, though," says Jesse Roberts, COMANCO's heavy equipment coordinator. "We only have one man and one machine on the slope, and don't have to rig up the operation to deal with different project scenarios."

Based on Sakai's SV510 roller with drive wheels, the tracked CV550 machine gets a heavier main frame and thicker drum shell. The triangular track is designed by Sakai. The drum delivers 50,000 pounds of centrifugal compacting force as it climbs. Its 169-hp turbocharged Isuzu diesel is significantly more powerful than SV510's 138-hp Isuzu.

The standard Sakai 12-month or 1,000-hour warranty, with a three-year major-component warranty, applies to the two CV550 Series machines.

Aside from hydraulic problems caused by a vandal who dumped sand into the oil tank, COMANCO has had no mechanical issues with one CV550 that has clocked more than 1,500 hours.

"It works exceptionally well for what we've been doing with it on the slopes, but it is extremely slow (compared to wheel-driven compactors) on flat ground," he points out. Projects that require a lot of flat compacting work are assigned a wheeled roller. COMANCO got rid of the second CV550 when managers discovered they are not general-purpose rollers.

Two configurations are available: the CV550D with a smooth drum for semi-cohesive soils and the CV550T padfoot drum for cohesive soils. Sakai says street price is about $190,000 for the smooth drum and $200,000 for a model with padfoot.