State-of-the-Art Paver Improves Production
Change is hard– for anyone. When it comes to change within a company, long-time employees who have become comfortable with tried-and-true equipment or methods often actively or passively resist the adoption of new technology. But for a progressive paving contractor, the decision to embrace technology can often result in improved crew productivity – and it might even open doors for new bids.
Slurry seal and micro surfacing contractor Viking Construction Inc. was founded in 1992. Originally a division of paving equipment manufacturer Scan Road Inc., the company was not only a paving contractor, but it also demonstrated Scan Road equipment to potential customers and provided Scan Road with a method for field-testing new equipment designs. In 2002, Barry Dunn purchased Viking Construction after Scan Road exited the construction equipment industry. Today, Viking operates out of Georgetown, Texas, and contracts throughout the state for city, county and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) slurry seal and micro surfacing projects.
It’s not surprising that Viking Construction’s paving arsenal has historically been composed of Scan Road truck-mount HD10 Continuous Run Machines. With 55 to county jobs are both slurry seal and micro surfacing, while our DOT jobs are all micro surfacing. DOT work comprises a little less than half of our projects.”
In late 2015, Viking Construction was ready to upgrade its fleet. In January 2016, management chose to purchase an M1E self-propelled, full-size continuous slurry seal and micro surfacing paver manufactured by Bergkamp Inc., located in Salina Kansas. The M1E reduces the number of construction joints on the job by receiving a constant supply of material while the machine is working. Welsh says Viking’s decision to purchase the Bergkamp unit was based on a couple of factors. “I was familiar with Bergkamp’s machines from working with them for a prior employer, and I knew their quality was top notch,” he says. “As we did our research, we decided the Bergkamp M1E was the obvious choice for a state-of-the-art paver. It is a well-put-together machine. We could not find an equal comparison model from any other manufacturer for a continuous-run paver.”
Viking Construction launched the M1E for its first project on April 1, 2016, and the company chose to use the paver exclusively for its TxDOT highway projects. For the crew members who began to operate the machine, the major difference between the traditional pavers they were familiar with and the new Bergkamp unit is that all major component clutches, chains, and sprockets that are standard on most pavers have been replaced on the M1E with direct-drive hydraulics that is controlled by Bergkamp’s advanced onboard EMCAD (Electronic Mix Control And Diagnostic)
System. The direct-drive hydraulics reduce the number of wear parts and maintenance points on the machine, while EMCAD simplifies calibration and allows the operator to control production with simple adjustments. The driver is free to progress at an optimized rate of speed, ensuring faster project completion.
“Our crew members were reluctant at first to use the M1E and EMCAD,” Welsh says. “This is typical among contractors. Employees are comfortable with the way they have always operated. If they’re not familiar with automated systems, they’re skeptical – they think it will make their jobs more difficult.” Welsh explains that it did not take the M1E’s crew long to see how EMCAD helps with accuracy and consistency. “Once we got buy-in from our crews, everyone was impressed. They found it was easy to run and easy to troubleshoot. They had to trust that the computer will reliably do what it is supposed to do, and that it really is easy to operate,” he says. Viking’s M1E ran the entire 2016 season with no breakdowns, and the company’s production rates increased dramatically from previous years. EMCAD is designed to manage power inputs and electronically control material outputs to maintain the monitoring system provides information in real time regarding the percentage of each micro surfacing mix ingredient that goes onto the roadway, and the operator can instantly make changes to output levels. The system displays current and average material ratios, total material used and material application rates, eliminating manual calculations and simplifying calibration. In addition, it electronically self-diagnoses and isplays easy-to-read indication lights and diagnostics, reducing troubleshooting and repair time. Even less-experienced operators can quickly make adjustments during production without compromising the accuracy of the mix. At any time, managers and inspectors can request on-demand or endof-day reports tracking production for individual sections of the job, or the entire job, to determine whether the project is meeting required specifications. Welsh explains that some of TxDOT’s specifications require computer calibration, adding that engineers and inspectors have more confidence in projects that are managed by an automated system because a computer can back up information through reports. “The difference is that you can retrofit a computer onto pretty much any paving machine, but it won’t be as accurate or easy to use as the EMCAD is on our M1E,” he says. “We believe the M1E with EMCAD will continue to increase confidence from TxDOT roject managers that we can prove our mix quality and finish jobs faster. Ultimately, we hope this turns into winning more bids from the State,” Welsh concludes.