Every Step Matters

New roller makes positive impression on contractor

Bituminous Roadways believes in controlling all aspects of the paving process, and for good reason: Every step is just as important as the next.

One of the final steps, compaction, is crucial in determining if the job is done right—whether goals are met, and often whether a bonus is paid.

“The compaction process can’t turn a bad job into a good one,” said Kent Peterson, president of Bituminous Roadways. “But it can do the opposite: Turn a good job into a bad one.”

The New Roller at Work

The firm last fall completed a street paving job near Minneapolis. The new Cat® CB64 Vibratory Asphalt Compactor handled compaction.

The paver placed 771 metric tons (850 U.S. short tons) on the first day the roller was on the job, and the CB64 easily kept pace. Besides production, both the operator and Randy Kramer, the Bituminous Roadways operations manager, were pleased with the roller’s visibility. “It’s one of the first things I noticed,” Kramer said.

The vibratory roller also was able to achieve compaction in three passes, despite the cooler seasonal temperatures. (On future jobs, it sometimes would complete breakdown compaction in only two passes.) The early and subsequent success was no surprise given the research Bituminous Roadways conducted prior to the purchase.

“It wasn’t a decision we jumped into,” Kramer said. “Our decision-making process included a visit to the Caterpillar plant and a tour of the production line. We were able to see the new and improved features they were including before the product was launched. It made us even more confident.”

Among the features that sold the company on the roller were:

  • New technology, including a control lever with a connected brake.
  • Improved visibility.
  • A spray system that provides efficiency and consistency.

Peterson had his own reason for preferring the CB64. “I like the size,” he said. “The shorter drums are more maneuverable. We don’t only use it on roads, but also in parking lots. We need our equipment to be versatile, too.”

Some of that versatility has become a necessity. “There have been times we’ve had to adjust to stay busy with the recent economy,” Kramer said. “We’re not locked into highway paving projects, or parking lots. We do more variety now. Before the downturn we took on lots of private business. Our mix has shifted to more public work.”

Added Peterson: “We can’t buy new machines every time we switch from a public job, which has more straight-production rolling, to a private job, where maneuverability might matter a little more. We need to stay productive in both applications.”

An Operator’s Perspective

The roller continued to work well as the company’s operators logged more hours. Randy Paurus, an operator with Bituminous Roadways, worked the compactor for a good part of the fall. He found some of the “little things” added up to substantial improvements.

“Controlling the high amplitude and the frequency were easier with the CB64 than with other rollers I’ve operated,” Paurus said. Fewer adjustments were needed, which meant more time compacting. When required, switches between settings were easy to make.

At 2130 mm (84"), the roller is 152 mm (6") wider than many of its counterparts, helping it efficiently cover the width of the mat. “That 6” makes a difference,” Paurus said.

Paurus said the spray system might be the best new feature. “First, you can see the sprayer working,” he said. With other systems, an indicator might say the water is running, but a hose could be unplugged or not fully operational, he said.

The biggest spray system improvement is the use of drum pads, Paurus said. “The pads are better than a squeegee-type system,” he said. “They disperse the water across the drum. The distribution is much more even and consistent. The pads also are more efficient. They still keep the drum wet, yet don’t use as much water.”

That efficiency became even more important as the season continued. With the arrival of cold weather, water was replaced with non-freezing windshield washer fluid. The spray system efficiency proved even more beneficial based on the high cost of the fluids.

An auxiliary tank made the conversion an easy one. “I could fill that tank with fluid, turn a valve and get to work,” Paurus said. “I would turn on the pump, and it would draw the washer fluid. There would be no freezing, and it was a very simple adjustment to make.”

The Final Step

The operator likes the roller, and so does the company president. “By controlling the plant and the crew, we can ensure the cost, quality and timing,” Peterson said. “Every step matters.”

The final step that brought everything together was led by the new Cat CB64.

The Cat CB64