Leading from the front: Wirtgen

Wirtgen Group offers a raft of new technologies aimed at assisting owners and operators in obtaining better returns and finished results.

Wirtgen Group has been producing road equipment that aims to lead global markets from a technological and design perspective for over five decades. This year marks another step ahead, with a raft of new models set to hit the market.

Roads & Infrastructure speaks to Wirtgen Group representatives and customers about some of the new technologies coming onstream across its suite of brands.

Improving machine performance while maximising fuel efficiency and lowering CO2 emissions and noise is no easy task.

When it comes to nuanced applications such as pavement removal or rehabilitation, Wirtgen Group has been designing and refining cold milling machines to suit the ever-evolving task.

Cold milling’s next generation

Wirtgen Group has developed the next generation of two-metre cold milling machines – the W200F. The W200F replaces the outgoing W200 series machines and offers a step change in operating technologies targeting ease of operation, job quality and efficiency.

Specialised road maintenance company Base Course Management recently acquired the W200F. Paul Montgomery of Base Course’s QLD business noted the successful history of the brand.

“Wirtgen is very good at bringing out new innovations and other things companies haven’t thought of. Our relationship with Wirtgen has been fantastic. It started in 1996 and we have been purchasing Wirtgen equipment ever since,” Mr. Montgomery says.

He says a desire to get access to the latest developments with the W200F ensures Base Course Management is able to lead, and pass on the benefits to customers.

Mark Drury, Australian Product Support Manager – Wirtgen, says the operating concept of the new W200F automates some of the complexity of machine operation, enabling the operator to focus on  imperative tasks such as machine loading and position and obstacle avoidance.

He says the operator still has the option to take back full manual control of all machine operators if they choose to do so.

“The machine will continue to monitor milling performance while operating in manual and compare a range of parameters against what could have achieved in automatic mode,” Mr. Drury explains.

“This provides onscreen suggestions to increase performance and efficiency and is a really smart feature that has obvious training benefits for operators – all built into the machine.”

Performance tracking

To improve productivity, Wirtgen Performance Tracker (WPT) has been undergoing preliminary testing in Australia. WPT actively tracks milling activity parameters such as location, depth and width (eg. for tapers), volume milled, truck loading data and machine data such as fuel and water use.

The data are communicated at the end of each shift via email in a report format that includes satellite mapping images of the works, tabulated summaries of loading, milling runs and machine operation data.

Melbourne-headquartered company Bitu-mill is participating in the early Australian testing of WPT.

Derek Thomas, Profiling Manager Victoria at Bitu-mill, says although it’s very early days of the trial, the system shows potential.

“It provides us a lot of information that we previously haven’t had and all to our inbox. With the chain of responsibility requirements, its ability to track and record truck loading is also very important.”

The machines also have many other new features, including a multiple cutting system, which enables a 10-minute drum change, a dual CAN network of key functions to ensure operability, built-in machine control redundancy and assisted diagnostics and troubleshooting.

Mr. Drury says assisted diagnostics is a great time saver and is similar to a photocopier.

“If something goes wrong with the machine, the malfunction will be indicated on the operator’s screen with colour graphics and with text description,” Mr. Drury says.

“Chasing error codes are on the way out. This speeds up the fault finding and correction process and gets the machine running again in quicker time.”

The next new milling model to arrive in Australia will be the W210Fi, the bigger sibling of the W200F. But this won’t be until late 2019 to early 2020, explains Stuart Torpy, General Manager Road Technologies and Managing Director.

“While the W210Fi will have all the above innovations available, it also has a few more to make life easier and less costly for owners,” Mr. Torpy says.

“Both these new models will be available alongside the current W210XP high horsepower range topper, which has been in the Australian market for just over two years and has quickly gained acceptance.”

Going sustainable

The challenges to road owners of rehabilitating existing, highly trafficked roads while minimising disruption to the road user are immense. In some respects, traditional techniques are now unworkable due to road access and public or environmental characteristics.

Nevertheless, the ongoing dynamisms of the road asset and social environment are challenging perceptions, and other constraints are forcing more thorough assessments of alternatives. The inclusion of foamed bitumen in rehabilitation treatments is one of those alternatives.

In addition to the two new cold milling machines, Wirtgen has also released its new cold recyclers the W 240 CR and W 380 CR.

The Wirtgen CR range aims to support road users by benefiting from the many advantages associated with fully reusing existing pavement materials. The addition of foamed bitumen and/or cement is able to reduce the number of construction material transport movements by up to 90 per cent. Likewise, the pavement designs enabled by the CR range aims to reuse 100 per cent of existing material, use 90 per cent less resources and 30 per cent less binding agent.

While the machines have yet to arrive on the scene in Australia, Mr. Torpy believes it’s just a matter of time.

“I think we’re quickly getting to the point where we’ll be forced to consider and trial these technologies.” Mr. Torpy says.

There are new and increasing pressures starting to be felt from unit costs of work through road user disruption to product sustainability and lifecycle.

“Ultimately it’s hard to imagine any road owner being able to withstand these forces. It really is not a matter of if, but when,” he says.

He believes a similar philosophy also applies to paving. At this year’s Bauma, Vögele released its Super 3000-3 paver with an 18-metre screed. The machine can effectively pave four lanes in a single pass to wearing course tolerances.

“I dream about seeing a machine like that in Australia, but sadly I think I’ll be long gone before that day arrives. However, wide paving has its place and the opportunities in Australia are immense,” Mr. Torpy says.

Ralf Peter, Australian Product Specialist at Vögele, adds the company has machines operating across Australia that have capability to pave 7.5 to 8.5 metres, but they rarely get over six metres in operation.

“On some jobs, site constraints limit wider paving, but on many jobs, the barriers to paving at these widths are not site related and are surmountable,” Mr. Peter says.

Depending on the job, wider paving has three material advantages over paving the same width in multiple runs. These include no longitudinal joints, meaning better quality and longer lasting pavements.

“We believe jointless paving has the quality edge over paving several run of ‘hot to not’ or ‘hot to cold’ because there are no joints at all,” Mr. Peter says.

Another improvement is higher paving output, meaning shorter time on the job or more asphalt laid and less interruption to traffic and residents.

Lowering reversing equipment and vehicle movements also means a reduction in the risk of collisions with plants and people. While some attention needs to be directed to ensuring optimum compaction, paving wide usually means slower advance speeds, so there’s less chance of the paver running away from the rollers.

Mr. Peter adds that the company has the resources to support any customer efforts to assess and undertake wider paving.

“If you can find the job and line up asphalt supply we’ll be more than happy to help you reap the benefits.

“Pave widths of 10 metres and more are routine in Europe and other parts of the world and is far from a new concept. There’s really no reason why it can’t be done here.”

High RAP content

Benninghoven has been busy transferring their counterflow recycling drum with hot gas generator (HGG) technology to the larger TBA and BA series mixing plants. The HGG technology enables up to 80 per cent reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) incorporation into asphalt mixes while reducing comparative emissions and total energy use. As regulators continue their focus on energy and emissions, the HGG technology has a head start when it comes to potential future compliance limits.

Greg Astill, General Manager – Mineral Technologies and MD, says Bauma was an incredible event, with Benninghoven standing tall.

“With three plants displaying the latest technology available, it was a clear reflection of Wirtgen’s continued commitment to asphalt production,” he says.

While attending Bauma, a large delegation of Australian and New Zealand customers took advantage of the opportunity to visit one of the new HGG Benninghoven asphalt production plants, along with the new Benninghoven factory.

Mr. Astill says feedback from the plant and factory visits has been outstanding and made the effort and extra travel worthwhile.

He adds Benninghoven is not only focused on the larger production plants with class leading emissions and recycled product technology.

“In the smaller ECO plant range there have been a number of innovative updates. The modular design of the ECO series allows a wide range of flexibility along with simple integration of various high-tech components which can be undertaken at a future date,” Mr. Astill explains.

“This affords plant owners real opportunities to meet changing market demand without the need for major disruption and adaptation costs. In this way, plant owners can then react to future customer and market requirements, particularly when it comes to solutions for asphalt recycling.”

In the ECO series, all of the main components are designed for transportation in standard container dimensions, meaning that they can be moved simply and quickly. This is already occurring in Australia, with an ECO plant being relocating some 1800 kilometres away. On the way, Wirtgen will carry out some minor maintenance, retrofit a RAP system, replace the bitumen storage and update several core features. Mr. Drury says this means ECO is living up to its reputation as a transportable, flexible and valued asset.

Taking compaction to cutting edge

Once high RAP content asphalt gets paved, it needs to be compacted. With this in mind, Hamm, Wirtgen Group’s compaction equipment brand, has not been idle, releasing a number of new models.

The HP280 is a new pneumatic tyred roller in the eight to 28 tonne range. While some common concepts have been brought across from the outgoing GRW280 models, the HP280 gains some new features. These include improvements to the operator’s station with new controls and layout ergonomics and intuitiveness of operation.

A flexible ballasting concept has also been introduced with a rigid, liquid and granular ballast now provided for and improved access to the ballast chambers from the sides of the machine. This permits quick weight changes based on job requirements.

The machine also features an innovative water and additive sprinkling system. In addition to larger water tanks, the HP280 can be optioned with an additive sprinkling system that permits filling of the additive tank with concentrate only. It is then mixed only when required with water to the selected dosing rate. These new features add to the visibility and maintenance accessibility leads that have been carried through from the GRW280 range.

And in a similar fashion, the previous advantages of the DV+ series of tandem pivot steer rollers has been added to with the addition of an oscillating split drum option. This development builds on Hamm’s pioneering efforts in oscillation to offer the benefits of this compaction technology in conjunction with those of split drums.

The patented solution provides users with low ground wave transmission compaction (oscillation) with the ability to compact in tight radial curves or roundabouts.

Stuart Torpy says while these are some of Wirtgen Group’s latest technologies, there are more available and still more being worked on behind closed doors.

“To get to the front is one challenge, but to stay there is another. We are working continuously on improving our products and services to allow businesses to stay at the leading edge,” he says.

Related stories:

Interesting? Share this article