Cat fleet paves the way

A matching fleet had potential to give Australian Pavement Specialists an air of professionalism and help them compete with others in the market.

A uniform fleet of Cat paving machines is ensuring Australian Pavement Specialists’ portfolio of works in South East Queensland is performed using the latest in asphalt technology.

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and research shows often this window is only open for less than 30 seconds.

As a new business in the road paving sector, Australian Pavement Specialists (APS) wanted to present a clean, well put together, uniform fleet of machinery to make an outstanding first impression on site.

A matching fleet had the potential to give the new company an air of professionalism and help APS compete with others in the market.

Allroads, APS’s parent company, began its paving business two years ago after seeing significant growth in the sector in South East Queensland. The company wanted to create a business that enhanced its expanding civil construction portfolio.

Carl Latimer, APS General Manager, says when the company began to look for equipment, they sought product information from a number of brands. In the end, Mr. Latimer chose a fleet of Cat F-Series paving machines.

“Cat delivered the latest technology that was on offer and at very competitive prices. To complement the decision, our civil arm also had an extensive fleet of Cat equipment,” Mr. Latimer says.

For a company starting out in the sector, Mr. Latimer says they wanted to have a one-stop-shop type setup.

APS purchased three different asphalt paving machines from Hastings Deering: AP300F, AP655F and AP600F which all vary in size.

“What we had to have was something unique because we were up against a lot of different paving companies and we wanted to have a distinct brand identity.

“Therefore when we chose to purchase the Cat pavers, we chose Cat for our entire fleet,” he says.

The company also owns four Cat rollers, three CB34B double drums and one tyre roller CC34B, alongside two skid steer loaders.

“The Cat fleet is a really big drawing card for us to look professional on-site and it’s actually leading to us getting more jobs because instead of turning up with an array of machines, we have a full professional setup, so we look organised from the get-go,” Mr. Latimer says.

The APS fleet has now been used extensively on projects throughout South East Queensland for Transport and Main Roads Queensland and various council roads.

Mr. Latimer says feedback from Transport and Main Roads Queensland and councils has been positive.

While he attributes the success of the machines to a number of technological and design features, one that sticks out to him is the Weiler screed.

All Cat pavers sold in the Northern Territory or Queensland feature Weiler screeds which have a robust but agile screed design, combining multiple operator friendly features, resulting in a high-quality mat.

The screed also features a reduced heat-up time, cut down from about half an hour to 15 minutes when compared to standard pavers.

Ryan Van Den Broek, Hastings Deering Sales Manager for Road Construction and Infrastructure, says the swift heat-up time means that it has given extra relief on tight timeline jobs.

“Crews can turn the paver on as they arrive at a worksite and turn it on to heat up while they are setting up the other equipment.

“Once they have set up, the paver will be ready to go,” he says.

The APS fleet has been used extensively on projects throughout South East Queensand for Transport and Main Roads Queensland and various council roads.

Another customer using Cat paving machines found the fast heat-up time essential when working on a major motorway project. For part of the project, crews had a very small window to pave and pressure was high to get paving as quick as possible.

“By having the Cat paving machines, they had less time to wait for the screed to get to temperature, which proved to be crucial with the tight timeframe,” Mr. Van Den Broek says.

Another important factor Mr. Latimer has noticed with Cat pavers is operator satisfaction.

He says the technology and design of the machine make the pavers easy to operate.

The design of the Cat pavers is one of the biggest factors for operator comfort.

The fan extraction system is placed to sit at a 45-degree angle on the top of the machine facing outwards.

“This design pushes the heat, the noise and any fumes away from the operator, drastically reducing the noise at both operator platform and screed when compared to other models,” Mr. Van Den Broek says.

The integrated level control system is another element Mr. Latimer says has impressed his team.

Coupled with sensors on the ground, the Cat pavers have easy-to-operate, integrated grade and slope controls that automatically adjust the levels.

“When the workers run the levels, the fully integrated level control system easily insures that the level hand achieves maximum compliance to the specification on a daily bases, including greater rideability on our projects,” Mr. Latimer says.

For paving jobs with inclines, he says the Cat AP655F uses advanced capabilities which helped APS push fully loaded semi tippers up steep inclines.

Cat paving equipment is designed with Cat engines, enabling the company to input design factors for specific applications.

Each Cat model has a similar base engine with modifications to suit its particular function.

In this case, the AP655F tracked paver has an engine with increased efficiency to enable crews to perform well on inclined surfaces.

“Usually a paver would struggle pushing a fully loaded truck up a steep hill, whereas the Cat just runs about 32 per cent capacity pushing it up this steep incline, which is quite phenomenal to be honest,” Mr. Latimer says.

Mr. Van Den Broek says he has been on a job where crews were paving with an AP655F with a SE10F screed open six metres wide up a steep hill, pushing a truck with 12-15 tonnes of asphalt on it – and the paver was only running at 45 per cent engine load.

When creating the F-Series of pavers, Caterpillar listened to operators and contractors that use pavers daily.

Mr. Van Den Broek says part of his job is to provide feedback to Caterpillar on its machines’ operation to guide designs for new machines.

“The F-Series was researched and developed over more than five years and creating a comfortable environment for operators was really the major focus for these machines,” he says.

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