Manoeuvrability, fuel efficiency, control, safety, visibility – there are more than a few considerations for asphalt contractors when purchasing new plant, especially pavers, where accuracy and consistency are especially key.
For Melbourne-based asphalt specialists ALL ASH, its search to upgrade its existing asphalt paver, complete with the best features and capabilities on the market, was a vigorous one – it even took Owner Steve Galea to Las Vegas in the US.
Looking to replace the company’s existing paver, which had clocked up nearly 15,000 hours, Mr. Galea went to a convention in the US to explore the possibilities out there.
“When I got back I started doing a bit of research and William Adams and a few other dealerships got in touch with me. But, it was William Adams’ three-year warranty parts and labour, 24-hour service on call and just knowing that Alex Fraser uses Caterpillar pavers – and I’ve heard a lot of good reports from them – that sold it,” Mr. Galea explains.
ALL ASH selected the Cat AP500F Wheel Paver – a mid-sized machine offering versatility for highways, rural roads, streets and other mid-sized projects – from the Victoria-based Cat dealer, which fit the bill for the multidisciplined asphalt contractor.
“We do mainly resurfacing, resheeting and similar projects. It could be from a major freeway to a back road to a carpark or even a driveway – just whatever needs asphalt really,” Mr. Galea says.
Besides commercial projects, the business also covers a range of residential projects, including driveways, edging and retaining walls.
For Mr. Galea, the ability of the machine to work in tight areas and worksites, particularly those around residential properties, was a big selling point.
“When I got the AP500F, one thing I really noticed was how it turns, its manoeuvrability and it still holds its level. As the paver moves, the front wheels don’t actually shove, it just turns with it,” he says.
The technological innovations on the AP500F have proved a hit with the contractor, particularly the fuel efficiency and reduced noise on the machines, with ALL ASH Foreman Luke Vanderkolk praising how quiet and safe the machine is to run.
“It’s a lot safer. Obviously, being quieter, you can hear the other workers and speak to the operator a lot clearer than the other machine,” Mr. Vanderkolk explains.
He says the new AP500F is a lot easier to set up compared with the firm’s older paver. “The buttons are definitely a lot easier to use. Standing and doing the work is a lot easier with the control rather than standing on the back of the old machine, which meant you didn’t really have a clear view of what you’re trying to do,” he says.
Likewise, ALL ASH’s operators are reaping the benefits.
“It’s a newish machine so everything moves a lot easier. The new technology with the screen and all the buttons and everything – compared to the older paver – is definitely ahead of its time,” ALL ASH Paver Operator Josh Weir explains.
The factory-integrated Cat Grade Control system on the AP500F helps remove irregularities from the surface and control mat thickness, helping lay a consistent mat. This subsequently helps increase production and lower operating costs.
The SE-Series screeds employed on the AP500F also use new heating technology, which incorporates exclusive zone monitoring. This allows heating to continue even in the event of a temperature sensor failure.
“With the automatic feeds it literally feeds up all the asphalt itself. It’s got an adjustable sensor so you can tilt that forward, backwards, side-to-side. It just makes my job easy so I can look ahead and worry about what’s ahead of me and everyone else around the machine instead of focusing on all the asphalt that’s getting fed up.”
Mr. Galea says the support from the Cat dealer has been exceptional and another major winner for the ALL ASH team.
“We get a lot of support from William Adams, so if we have a monitor defect or something like that, we ring them up and they send a guy out pretty much straight away,” he explains, adding that the immediacy of the service means no downtime on the machine, further justifying the investment.
“I’ve actually recommended the Cat AP500F paver to a few people for a few reasons: the reliability, the support from Williams Adams and that you get a three-year warranty for parts and labour – no-one else is offering that at the moment,” Mr. Galea says.
“The most important part is that it holds a very good level.
“At the end of the day the road user gets a better road out of it, therefore fewer bumps, therefore a superior ride, which everyone is looking for.”