Contractors are looking for more simplicity in their curb-and-gutter machines. So, manufacturers have made that a top goal in their design principles.
“A big part of making the machine more productive is making it easy to run,” says Stephen Bullock, vice president of sales and marketing for Power Curbers. “The simpler you can make it, the better.”
Simplicity also helps contractors bring new operators onboard.
“The number one concern we hear from our customers is that labor, specifically skilled labor, is the hardest thing to find,” Bullock says. The easier you can make machine operation, the more flexibility a customer has in whom he can choose to be a machine operator, he says.
Customers also want easy loading and unloading, so the Power Curbers machine has been designed with a low center of gravity and low profile that make it easier to get on and off.
They also want all-around visibility – from the front, where the chute man is feeding the machine, to the back, where concrete is coming out of the mold and an operator needs to easily make adjustments to the finished product, manufacturers note.
Wirtgen says its AutoPilot system reduces construction costs, allows faster setup and improves accuracy. Even an inexperienced operator can quickly learn AutoPilot, the company says.
“Offset slipform applications such as parapet barriers and curb-and-gutter work can benefit from Wirtgen’s proprietary AutoPilot system, which permits stringless paving on a variety of jobs,” says Tim Nash, director of concrete products, Wirtgen.
“Today’s contractors are looking to purchase concrete paving equipment with the newest technology available because they know that technology will make things faster, easier and better for them on their projects,” says Kevin Klein, vice president of engineering, research and development at GOMACO.
He notes that the G+ control system offers “simple sophistication” on GOMACO’s full line of concrete paving equipment. With G+, an operator simply connects a 3D stringless control system to the paver, then connects two paver-mount GSI (GOMACO Smoothness Indicator) units to the back of the paver to get real-time smoothness results on screen for easy monitoring of paver operation and diagnostics.
Contractors also want to simplify diagnostics. Klein notes that with G+, customers can make diagnostics with GRD (GOMACO Remote Diagnostics). “It’s more than telematics – giving owners the visibility of how, when and where their equipment is being used,” he says. Without leaving the owner’s shop or jobsite, technicians can get a diagnostic review of a machine from corporate headquarters in Ida Grove, Iowa.
Several features make the Easi-Pour machines “operator friendly,” including the operator control platform and simple machine setup, says Curtis Bales, business and sales manager.
“Everything is within reach of the operator, and very simple design allows for operator comfort,” he says. “The Compact 880 sets up in less time, making the contractor more efficient.”
Smaller machine considerations
“In our niche of the market, simplicity is exactly what contractors are looking for,” agrees Tim Messinger, president of Curb Fox, which makes smaller curb-and-gutter machines. “We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible, so an operator can be trained in how to run the machine in a couple of hours.”
MBW’s three models range in weight from 3,000 to about 4,000 pounds, compared to 12,000 to 15,000 pounds for typical curb-and-gutter machines, says MBW President Frank Multerer. The controls and sensoring devices are designed to be much simpler in the smaller machines, he says.
“If you have a problem,” Multerer says, “you want a problem to be easy and cost-effective to deal with, so we’ve stayed with simple potentiometers and control systems.”
These smaller machines can maneuver in tight quarters, so they’re best for work in malls, parking lots and subdivisions, he says.
The extrusion machines can provide more shapes and sizes of curb than the larger slipform pavers, says Larry Dewey, Curb-Tec president and engineer. They range in price from $9,000 to $25,000.
Extrusion machines minimize hand work, which cuts labor costs, and they provide easy layout with a consistent finished product.
“One key that makes our machines unique and easy to use,” says Hank Rochette, sales manager of Miller Curber, which also makes extrusion curbers, “is that we offer so many different options for so many different jobs.”
Here’s a round-up of what’s on the market:
Power Curbers’ 5700-C curb-and-gutter machine features three-crawler steering that enables tight turns, within a 2-foot radius.
“Being able to turn those radiuses with the machine keeps you from having to manually form it up,” says Stephen Bullock with Power Curbers. “An operator could go out and pour island after island with the machine versus spending hours on one island and having to set up forms.”
The 5700-C Smart Amp control system combines the simplicity of analog with the added benefits of a digital controller, Bullock says. “It’s a simple way of setting the sensitivity on the sensors for the machine, to dial in the machine to get the steering and elevation controls just right.”
Power Curbers also offers 150, 5700-C Max and 7700 curbing machines.
Most of Curb Fox’s customers don’t want the high-tech GPS, stringless option because of the higher cost, the company says.
Curb Fox’s best-selling model, the 5000-T, bears the slogan, “simple versatility.” The company claims it’s the smallest all-track machine on the market. Curb Fox’s smaller units all use tires, but about six years ago, at customers’ requests, Curb-Tec came out with this all-track unit, a design more commonly found on large pavers.
The company has taken into account the increasing demand for stringless/GPS capability. The Curb Fox 5000-T offers an option to plug in a Leica stringless system.
Curb Fox also offers the 2000, 3000 and 5000 models.
Wirtgen America offers three slipform pavers for curb-and-gutter/parapet placement using offset molds. The new SP 61i is capable of paving offset up to 9 feet, 10 inches wide and 7 feet, 2 inches high.
The SP 15i is capable of paving offset up to 6 feet wide and 4 feet, 3 inches high. The SP 25i paves offset up to 8 feet, 2 inches wide and 6 feet, 7 inches wide. Both the SP 25i and SP 61i can place sidewalk or pavement slabs in inset mode as well.
The AutoPilot stringless control system is available on the Wirtgen SP 15i and SP 25i. The system uses a computer integrated in the machine and a control panel. For course control, two machine-mounted GPS receivers communicate with an additional GPS reference station positioned onsite. For precise grade control, a laser, ultrasonic sensor or total station is used.
The Miller Formless M-1000 has a compact four-track design for greater accuracy and more maneuverability, the company says. The design enables easy, quick turnarounds and 24-inch radius.
The M-1000 can pour up to 5 feet wide. It transports at 8 feet, 6 inches in width. Standard equipment includes a diesel engine rated at 110 horsepower and 2,000 rpm, patented microprocessor controls for elevation and steering, three vibrators and a heavy-duty modular auger.
It offers visibility for monitoring all aspects of the pour process, and it can be ordered as a left- or right-hand pour.
Miller Formless also offers the M-8100 and M-8800.
With its smaller machines, MBW makes transport and cleaning of its pavers easy and keeps maintenance low, the firm says.
MBW makes three models. The two-wheel drive C101 pours to a 12-inch width with an 18-inch height. The two-wheel drive C101-18 pours to an 18-inch width and height. And the three-wheel drive CG200 slipform profiles within a 48-inch-wide by 18-inch-high parameter.
While production rates vary and are dependent on mix, grade and crew proficiency, a typical day’s pour with its pavers would be 1,000 to 1,500 feet of curb and gutter, MBW says. And in the tack-on curb over pavement application, the MBW Paver has the potential to slipform up to 5,000 feet a day.
The C101 is easily converted into a C101-18 or a CG200.
The new three-track GOMACO Commander III X, or Xtreme, can slipform pave at 24-inch radius. It features rotary-sensored slew-rig steering, sensored leg positioning, independent travel circuits to each track and a three-sensor radius system. It has improved fuel efficiency and capacity, GOMACO says.
Using the new Xtreme radius software bundle, the operator can simply program the size of the radius into the G+ controller. Approaching the radius, he or she activates the radius program, and the paver slipforms around the radius.
The smart hydraulic cylinders on all three legs of the Commander III X allow G+ to know the position of the tracks at all times, the company says. Smart hydraulic cylinders are also used for telescoping the mold-mounting system for intelligent offset and repeatable mold offset.
GOMACO also offers Curb Cadet, GT-3200, GT-3400, GT-3600, 3300 and the 4400.
Curb-Tec makes two small extrusion curbing machines, the CT-3000 and the CT-900. Both have extra-large material hoppers to make life easier for the operator.
The CT-3000 is self-propelled by just the touch of a button, in forward and reverse, using a rear-wheel power system. The material feeder system and hydraulic elevation jacks are electronically controlled. The “reverse on the fly” auger is a key feature. The CT-3000 can fill a trench and form a curb at the same time.
The 25-horsepower machine paves up to 18 inches high and 18 inches wide in standard offset position. With optional belt conveyor, it paves up to 20 inches high and 2 feet wide. Functions are controlled from the operator’s panel on the steering handle.
Miller Curber, which also makes extrusion curbers, says its most popular machine is the MC650. Miller Curber’s machines are designed for constructing small to mid-sized continuous curb from either concrete or asphalt. Nearly 2,000 curb shapes with custom choices are available.
The machine produces quality, dense curb at a rate of up to 15 feet per minute, according to the company. A larger machine, the MC900, can produce curb at a rate of up to 30 feet per minute.
Popular options include a lifting lug, cast compaction tube, removable hopper plate, vibrator, hydraulic brake and swivel rear wheel.
Also available are the MC655, which is the same as MC650 but with modified frame allowing extrusion under existing guardrail. The MC750 has two continuously turning auger assemblies, allowing immediate changeover from right- to left-hand extrusion.