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Reconstructing roadbuilding

By Lynn Marsh

Roadbuilding equipmentThe rising demand placed on roads is steadily exceeding road crews’ capacity to maintain, let alone improve, roadways. Road repair projects are on the rise, but limited budgets require a reevaluation of methods and efficiency to ensure the available funds can stretch far enough. With crews facing a growing backlog of jobs, contractors are looking for ways to improve efficiency and get more done with the same amount of time and workers. That’s where the equipment rental industry and machines with attachments come into play.

By offering a variety of attachments, an equipment rental company can offer its customers a realistic, effective solution by utilizing equipment that contractors are already familiar with to do more jobs with skid steers or compact track loaders. By changing workflow, minimizing maintenance and lowering equipment cost, attachments can help rental customers better utilize available labor and increase their return on investment. In road construction, in particular, new attachments are changing the foundational methods of road crews.

A new method. Road construction tasks like backfilling and aggregate placement have typically been viewed as a four-step process. Roadway materials are piled on the road, scraped into place, compacted and then crews sweep and clean what remains off the road. Although larger machines and added crew members can help complete projects, another perspective to increase efficiency and safety is to minimize the number of steps in the process with the use of material placement attachments, which also will cut down on labor.

Material placement attachments can take the complex four-step process and simplify it. With this method, a single operator connects a skid steer, loader or other common host machine to the attachment and loads road material into the hopper at the top. Then, the operator drives alongside the road as material feeds down the hopper onto a conveyor which then carries the material to the edge of the attachment, dispensing it through an adjustable width opening exactly where it’s needed.

Some attachments can even dispense up to 20 tons of aggregate in under 10 minutes with all machine adjustments made by a single crewmember from inside the host machine using a remote control. To further increase the efficiency of material placement attachments, some manufacturers offer dual and single, left or right side, dispensing configurations to meet the needs of end users.

By offering these sorts of attachments, equipment rental companies can help their customers streamline the process to save and make money. Crews not only can do more work in a day but can do more with their budget by cutting out steps without adding more self-propelled machines or workers.

Roadbuilding applicationsReducing by attaching. To reduce maintenance, material placement attachments can connect to the engine and hydraulics of common, proven workhorses, like skid steers and wheeled or tracked loaders. In case a host machine needs to be serviced, crews can quickly and easily hookup the attachment to another machine. Without an engine or transmission of their own to upkeep, these attachments have the power to reduce maintenance by up to 90 percent with just a few grease fittings to look after.

When adding attachments to your rental inventory, look for those that have optional universal mounting plates and easy hydraulic parts to connect to any host machine. One advantage of choosing an attachment with a compact design means fewer parts to keep track of and less transportation requirements as well as less clutter in the rental yard and on the job site. Another benefit is the ability to conveniently fit the attachments on the same trailer as the host machine to be transported to and from job sites.

Reducing maintenance reduces downtime, ultimately providing rental customers with the opportunities to take on more jobs and save money.

The poor conditions of roadways across the world and the limitations of traditional machinery are inspiring equipment innovations. By offering items such as material placement attachments, equipment rental companies can help their customers create a system of sustainable roadway management.

Lynn Marsh is the president of Road Widener, Delafield, Wis. For more information, visit