For US contractor White Oak Asphalt, a particular job in Fredericksburg, the heart of Virginia’s historic district, required a special kind of machine to get the job done.
The firm was the milling subcontractor on the project to mill and repave Princess Ann Street, which involved a lot of tight corners and spaces, and limited work to 15 shifts in order to keep the area open to tourists.
White Oak Asphalt used a Cat PM620 Profiler to complete the work in the specified time. “In the really tight areas of the historic district this machine’s agility, and the way that it tracks not only vertically but horizontally, does a tremendous job,” says Justin Thacker, Owner and President of White Oak Asphalt.
“It enables us to get in and out of areas quickly, where we could really get hung up. Without the Cat PM620, this wouldn’t be possible in the shifts that are allotted.”
Mr. Thacker and his team were one of the first Cat customers to try out the new PM620 profiler and experience its innovative and efficiency-focused features first hand.
The first pilot of the PM620 and its wider counterpart – the PM622 – was launched to the US market in early 2016. In November, the PM620 hit Australian shores.
The machine is the fruit of five years of comprehensive research and design to produce a cutting-edge and flexible time-saving milling machine.
While catering to the diverse international construction market, Greg Mumford, Cat Asia-Pacific Sales Manager says the new profilers are also specifically targeted at Australia.
“We had one Australian customer involved in the design process for the PM620 profilers and a lot of that customer’s feedback was appreciated,” says Mr. Mumford. “We think it’s going to suit the Australian market very well.”
A powerhouse profiler
The heavy-duty, 470-kilowatt Cat C18 ACERT engine drives the PM620, a high production and highly manoeuvrable half-lane milling machine that can perform controlled full-depth removal of asphalt and concrete pavements in a single pass.
Equipped with a 2010-millimetre-wide high production rotor, the PM620 boasts a maximum cutting depth of 330 millimetres. Three cutting speeds match the right rotor revolutions per minute and torque with the job site conditions. Cat Automatic Load Control continually evaluates the engine revolutions per minute and adjusts propel speed as required.
The manufacturer’s optional integrated 2D-capable slope system – Cat Grade Control – provides the PM620 with additional functions such as automatic plunge cut, ramp-in/ramp-out capability and a jump-hold feature.
An adjustable protective plate on the machine’s flush side gives operators the ability to cut in close proximity to obstacles, and navigate narrow spaces easily.
The PM620 employs a four-post design with four mode steering and auto-levelling, which, added with a robust propel system, gives the machine superior traction and improved turning radius.
Mr. Mumford explains that the conveyor on the new model is another major point of difference between the PM620 and its predecessors.
“The choke point on any profiler is the conveyor belt. The rotor can plane out more than the conveyor can take. So, we widened the width of the conveyer to increase production,” he says.
The height adjustable loading conveyor can also swing 60 degrees to the left and right, providing optimal positioning as each project site requires.
A water spray system lubricates the belt and helps control dust, which is further aided by the PM620’s comprehensive dust suppression system.
The PM620 includes Cat’s easy-to-use systems, ergonomic design and operator comfort, which are mainstays in its other heavy construction machinery ranges.
“The controls are very simple and easy to use. The chair swivels and allows the operator to observe the planer easily,” says Mr. Mumford.
The operator’s station features high visibility and dual operating controls. A hydraulically operated canopy can also be deployed and stowed quickly without disrupting operation.
“Operators love this machine and we’re getting good feedback from US customers on this,” he adds.
The machines are designed for easy service through their accessible critical systems and maintenance points, a computerised monitoring system and the optional Product Link service.
“There’s really good visibility to the flush cut side now and the hinged side plates mean the operator can check the rotor very quickly,” says Mr. Mumford.
Should there be an issue with a button or control panel, the operator can simply remove the individual controls section rather than the entire panel for maintenance.
“We’ve done a lot of research and design over the last five years. For Cat, a very important aspect of the machine is the product support element,” he says. “We know that customers simply cannot afford down time, and we’ve invested heavily, including in our local parts stocking strategy and Cat dealer service training to ensure Caterpillar and its dealers can help customers minimise down time as much as possible.”
A big winner for any Cat customer is the commonality of parts. Many parts, such as the tracks and engine for the PM620, are used on a range of other Cat machine models, improving parts availability.
As one of the early adopters of the PM620, White Oak Asphalt is reaping all the benefits the new machine brings. Overall, the machine’s capabilities and unique features have made a big impact on the firm’s production rate, while also exceeding customer expectations.
“It has changed our operation. The visibility, the professionalism and the magnitude of the machine on the jobsite attracts customers. Anybody that is in the industry that sees this machine is automatically drawn to it. It’s amazing,” says Mr. Thacker.