For Victoria-based road contractor Metro Asphalt, the hard work of its asphalt crews and dedication to the job is reflected in the hours its machines are clocking in.
In the past nine years, the firm’s Cat AP655D Asphalt Paver has chalked up just over 10,000 working hours. “Which is about the right number of hours for a paver, especially our flagship machine” says Elvis Centofanti, Metro Asphalt’s Contracts Manager, adding that many people find that to be an incredible milestone for any paver.
“We use it every day and haven’t necessarily needed to replace it. For us, in terms of productivity and having done more than 10,000 hours on site with it, the machine has been fantastic.”
However, nearly a decade since purchasing its latest asphalt paver, Metro Asphalt is investing in a new machine – the Cat AP655F – the next iteration in the Cat asphalt paver range. “It was time for an upgrade as our old machine was getting on in age,” states Mr. Centofanti.
The contractor purchased its original paver from Melbourne-based Cat dealer William Adams in 2008, and this past May has done so once more with the AP655F.
The legacy of its Cat AP655D Asphalt Paver led Metro Asphalt back to William Adams, given the quality of the machine and level of service delivered by the team there.
“When we bought the first one, we put a lot of faith in the William Adams and Cat brands. Since we bought that machine, they’ve really come through for us on a number of occasions,” he says.
“The reason why we ordered it in the first place was because we thought their service and customer support would be pretty good – and sure enough, it proved to be the case.”
Mr. Centofanti says the William Adams and Cat spare parts and aftersales services have been major assets to the Metro Asphaltteam.
“Our old paver went through three rebuilds over its time – William Adams has done some of the work while we’ve done some of it internally,” he adds.
The ongoing relationship with William Adams is a major catalyst in Metro Asphalt returning to purchase its next asphalt paver, and so has the technical capabilities of the Cat AP655F Asphalt Paver.
For Mr. Centofanti and the team at Metro Asphalt, two of the most noticeable technological advancements on the AP655F compared to the AP655D are better fuel efficiency and reduced noise.
“One of the major benefits of the machine is its economy mode, which helps reduce fuel consumption. In us choosing this particular model, the hope is we can achieve better fuel efficiency across our operation. The machine is obviously a lot quieter and it appears to be a lot smoother too.”
Using the eco-mode utilisies an engine speed of 1650 revolutions per minute and reduces fuel burn by up to 5 per cent over Cat E-series pavers.
The machine also incorporates automatic speed control and the ability to activate an advanced eco-mode, which can modify the engine revolutions per minute based on load factors.
“The workstation, which is located on the screed at the rear of the machine, provides easy access to information, inputs and for maintenance,” he says. “Our guys can see how the machine is running throughout the day and it gives the operator a lot more feedback and information on the operation.”
Mr. Centofanti adds that other great features of the machine are the water-resistant displays and operator controls, which make the machine more versatile and serviceable on the job.
“It’s very similar to the previous one because it’s the next machine generation, which means there’s already a sense of familiarity about the machine. It’s great for our operators in that regard.”
Metro Asphalt’s AP655D paver was one of Caterpillar’s first Mobil-Trac pavers to enter the Australian market. Likewise, its AP655F is one of the first tracked, rather than wheeled, Cat pavers of this model to enter the national market.
Mr. Centofanti says the business opted for the same option given its positive experience using a tracked paver.
“In the Australian market it’s all about the wheeled machines. The AP655D was the first one for us and it went better than expected,” he says.
“For us, the decision to go with Mobil-Trac was to do with the productivity aspect. A wheeled paver can have a very good chance of bogging in softer pavement. Our first machine has never become bogged and it’s able to push a semi-trailer effortlessly. It’s a very strong machine in that regard.
“The rideability of the model often means you get a better finish than a wheeled machine, it’s good tight corners and has fantastic maneuverability too,” says Mr. Centofanti.
The William Adams team assisted Metro Asphalt with the delivery and commissioning of its latest paver over two days at the beginning of May.
Guy Rigoni, Equipment Sales New, Used & Rental – Major Accounts Construction at William Adams, says the level of service that comes with Cat products has been part of the success behind the relationship between dealer and customer.
“We’ve been working with Metro Asphalt since they purchased their first paver, more so to do with technical support and our spare parts service, but that’s all part of the relationship,” says Mr. Rigoni.
Metro Asphalt has also purchased Cat excavators, rollers and padfoot rollers, reaping the benefits of Caterpillar’s comprehensive spare parts service.
Mr. Rigoni says the technological innovations on the AP655F have proved popular in the market with contractors like Metro Asphalt, particularly the fuel efficiency and reduced noise on the machines, and also unique features such as Cat Grade Control.
The factory-integrated guidance system helps remove irregularities from the surface and control mat thickness, helping lay a consistent mat and subsequently increase production and lower operating costs.
The SE-Series screeds employed on the AP655F also use new heating technology, which incorporates exclusive zone monitoring. This allows heating to continue even in the event of a temperature sensor failure. Likewise, delivery efficiency is prioritised on the new model, primarily through large throughput capacity and an oversized feed component that allow the system to run slower, limiting wear and helping reduce fuel consumption.
While many technological aspects of the new Cat AP655F speak for itself, Mr. Rigoni surmises that the key for William Adams is fostering the client/customer partnership.
“Our business is all relationship – it’s based around making sure the customer gets the best use out of the product.”