Grading & Excavation Contractor

Increasing Machine Utilization With Attachments

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Credit: Doosan
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Grading & Excavation Contractor.

Industry experts agree: using a piece of compact ­equipment with multiple attachments turns that one machine into a multi-purpose tool for road construction site preparation work that can help contractors complete their jobs more efficiently, bid on larger projects, create a more diversified portfolio, and work in all weather and ground conditions.

Having a variety of work tools on hand—and in some cases, a quick coupler to speed change-out—enables a contractor to get the most out of a single machine, notes Caterpillar spokesperson Mark Sprouls.

“The right work tools increase machine utilization and get the job done faster,” he adds.

That’s important when doing site preparation for clearing and preparing roads—a job that is often on a strict timeline and budget.

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To that end, Caterpillar and other companies offer an array of attachments.

Caterpillar offers high productivity buckets for wheel loaders, quick couplers for excavators that enable excavators to change bucket widths quickly to perform different duties, and demolition and sorting grapples used in roadway projects.

Cat Performance Series Buckets balance the shape of the bucket with the wheel loader linkage design, operating weight, and lift/tilt capabilities.

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“The net result is optimum machine performance in production-oriented applications, whether truck loading, stockpiling, or load-and-carry,” says Dick Mars, product marketing consultant.

The buckets, designed to be more efficient than conventional models, are available in a number of styles and application-specific configurations to ensure high production and long-term durability through the most severe applications, adds Mars.

Those design elements include:

  • A wider throat opening with more space between the cutting edge and the spill guard
  • A longer floor with more surface for entering material before encountering the radius at the back of the bucket
  • Curved side bars, adding surface area to the side of the bucket to contain more material
  • A modified strike plane, a geometric aspect of the bucket in its carry position that improves load retention
  • Increased bucket rack-back to further increase material retention
  • A redesigned spill guard to increase capacity and protect ­linkage components, hydraulic cylinders, and sensors
  • Enhanced sight lines to the loading area to allow operators to more easily determine when the bucket is full, increasing time and fuel efficiencies

The buckets have demonstrated 10% greater fill factors than conventional buckets, resulting in fewer passes per truck and more truck loads per day, says Mars. Tests show that ­Performance Series Buckets placed on the Cat 972H and 980H wheel loaders average 5–7% better fuel efficiency, a three- to five-second reduction in per-cycle loading time, and a 0.5–1.5-ton increase in per-pass payload.

The general purpose bucket—designed for standard breakout forces and moderately abrasive conditions—is used for stockpiling, material-handling, excavating, and bank-loading applications. The base edge accepts either a bolt-on cutting edge or adapters that accommodate K-Series tips. Side wear plates are available.

Rock buckets are designed for use in moderately abrasive face loading applications such as limestone and unprocessed rock as well as in truck or hopper loading operations with a wide range of quarry materials. A specially-contoured spill guard is designed to enhance visibility to the bucket corners, and slots in the spill guard improve visibility to the material. An optional wear kit includes floor liner, radius liner, and upper/lower outer side plates. A selection of ground engaging systems is available.

Heavy-duty rock buckets are intended for use in extremely aggressive applications such as face loading tightly-compacted pit materials in which materials are moderately abrasive and high impact is frequently encountered. Protective features include those on rock buckets as well as rock-deflecting wings, ­base-edge end protectors, half-arrow segments between adapters, ­bottom skis, bottom and base-edge wear plates, and mechanically attached wear plates beneath the boom-pin areas.

Heavy-duty granite buckets are used in extremely aggressive applications such as face loading granite, and are intended for use in materials and applications involving high abrasion and high impact. The bucket interior is completely lined. Other features include shear blocks to restrict side-bar-protector movement, a full complement of bottom protection, and base-edge protection including top-mounted wear plates, half-arrow segments, and adapter covers.

Caterpillar’s demolition and sorting grapples are designed for the most rigorous applications and to be capable of handling large volumes of material while providing the ability to sort through recyclable debris to enhance recovery rates and reduce costs for labor, transportation, and landfill fees.

The lineup includes five models designed to fit a broad range of crawler and wheel-type Cat hydraulic excavators with operating weights from 22,000–99,200 pounds. They are ­constructed from high-grade, impact-resistant steel with ­reinforced jaws, and high-wear cutting edges made of AR500 steel.

The grapples feature 360-degree rotation to allow for precise positioning of the tool without moving the machine. Synchronized jaws enhance control of the grapple, allowing repeatable action through each cycle, and high-clamping forces are designed to ensure material retention during each cycle to boost production efficiency.

The grapple design also features edge-to-edge contact along the tips of the jaws, enabling operators to pick out the smallest items for selective recycling. Overbite stops further enhance edge-to-edge contact, even when working in thin materials, says Lori Cansler, marketing consultant, work tools.

Jaw openings range from 71 to nearly 90 inches, expanding the grapples’ working flexibility and enabling visibility to the work area for more effective material screening. The zero clearance design of the jaws allows the grapples to work tightly against vertical walls and containers, and the smooth inner profile of the jaws allows material to easily enter and exit without catching, thus speeding production cycles, notes Cansler.

The high-torque rotation motor is protected from job-site hazards. Serviceability features include ample access to internal parts, ground-level access to grease points, and replaceable cutting edges, says Cansler.

Caterpillar offers the Cat Pin Grabber Coupler for excavators. The coupler meets or exceeds global safety standards and is used for all Cat D, E, and F Series excavators, models 311 through 390. It works with Cat buckets and most others, says Brian Stellbrink, product marketing consultant.

A trencher version is designed to fit within the width of the smallest trenching buckets.

The Cat Pin Grabber Coupler is designed for an optimum weight-to-strength ratio. It incorporates a short-profile design that reduces tip radius—the distance from the stick mounting pin to the bucket cutting edge—for added digging power, greater fill ratios, and fuel conservation, as well as enhanced machine stability, says Stellbrink.

The coupler also incorporates a debris shield to help ensure proper coupler operation and reduce maintenance by eliminating the need for the operator to periodically stop the machine to clear obstructing material.

A lifting eye centered on the back of the coupler—matching the stick centerline—assists operators in keeping loads aligned and in maintaining more precise control when placing items such as trench boxes.

Additionally, the redesigned eye shape—similar to those used on buckets—accepts larger shackle sizes and enhances the shackle stability, says Stellbrink.

The pin grabber coupler also features a wedge-lock system for primary pin retention and a positive secondary latch. The system maintains constant hydraulic pressure on the wedge, and the coupler frame—rather than the activating cylinder—absorbs most of the force to help ensure long-term durability.

In compliance with new safety regulations, the coupler maintains tool position in the event of hydraulic pressure loss, and the operator can positively verify from the cab that the coupler is locked.

The coupler is routinely maintained with a central greasing block on its side, enabling service for all but two of the coupler grease points.

Most of Caterpillar’s work tools are available through the Cat Rental Store, operated by the local Cat dealer.

The combination of a loader and a land-clearing attachment such as a mulching head is ideal for site preparation and clearing applications, utility and right-of-way work, and brush clearing for fire breaks and fire prevention, says Gregg Warfel, district sales manager, Terex Construction Americas.

“Land-clearing attachments paired with a compact loader can offer contractors the ability to grapple, shear, hammer, break, crush, cut, compact, and scoop up debris on a variety of job sites,” says Warfel. “These attachments also play a large role in handling the debris during the clean-up process, loading the material into trucks for hauling away.”

Adding attachments to perform profitable tasks is always a good financial decision simply because attachments cost very little compared to the revenue stream contractors can see as a result of performing more tasks on the job site, he says.

“To get more done on every job site, performance-matched attachments—including augers, backhoes, mulchers, rotary brooms, buckets, dozer blades, pallet forks, power box rakes, stump grinders, trenchers, vibratory rollers, and landscaping rakes—are ideal tools for contractors to use with their compact loaders when working in land-clearing and site prep applications,” says Warfel.

Warfel points out that hydraulics flow requirements is the ­latest and most noticeable trend in the attachments industry.

“The need in today’s rental market is not for routine ­attachments such as buckets, Harley rakes, and dozer blades, but instead customers are looking to rent more sophisticated attachments, including mulching heads and rotary mowers for right-of-way and fence line clearing, as well as auger, trencher, cold planer,grapple buckets, broom, and snow blower attachments,” he says.

Such attachments require higher flow to operate.

“High-flow attachments are built for high productivity in difficult applications,” points out Warfel. “Therefore, equipment manufacturers have had to engineer their machines to match the needed flow of these attachments.”

Terex’s mulcher attachment, tuned for use with the company’s compact track loaders, is ideal for right-of-way work and vegetation management applications, such as clearing brush, mowing grass and weeds, as well as cutting down and mulching trees up to eight inches in diameter, he says.

“This attachment is designed with performance-enhancing features like the powerful drum-style mulcher that utilizes 36 double twin carbide teeth, allowing operators to quickly and efficiently clear and mulch a 61-inch-wide path. The drum-style mulcher also gives operators the ability to plane stumps up to 12 inches [in] diameter to ground level,” says Warfel.

With compact track loaders and ­skid-steer loaders being used more as tool carriers, the attachment market is growing rapidly, explains Warfel.

“The capabilities of these types of machines, as well as wheel loaders, ­excavators and even backhoe loaders, are virtually endless when paired with ­different attachments,” he adds.

Because most attachments on the market are universal, their use enables contractors to increase their equipment utilization rates, adds Warfel.

“To illustrate this, an attachment-equipped loader is often a more practical and/or cost-effective solution over a dedicated machine when ground pressure is a concern,” says Warfel. “For example, some government projects demand very little disruption to the topsoil in order to best protect native plants when removing invasive species.

“Most dedicated mulching machines are heavy and have steel tracks, which can do a lot of damage to the topsoil,” he adds. “Typically, rubber-track machine loaders offer the lowest ground pressure and are the best choice for use in sensitive ground conditions.”

Another benefit that a compact loader with an attachment offers is job-site maneuverability, Warfel points out.

“They are smaller than dedicated mulchers and offer more flexibility because they can run a variety of attachments, so the machine can perform more than one task,” he says.

Fuel consumption is another benefit of using a compact loader versus a ­dedicated machine, notes Warfel, adding that the higher the machine’s horsepower, the more fuel it uses, which increases operating costs.

Because the dedicated mulching machines are typically higher horsepower machines, the acquisition and operating costs will be higher compared to an attachment-equipped loader, says Warfel.

A land-clearing machine needs to be adequate for 85–90% of a contractor’s job-site needs, he adds.

“On large projects, the cost of a ­dedicated machine may be lowered when compared to the price of a smaller machine that would be under-utilized,” he adds.

Operators play a significant role in affecting return on investment or a machine’s re-sale value, whether it’s a dedicated machine or an attachment-equipped loader, says Warfel.

“The operator needs to know and understand the machine’s capabilities and operate it appropriately,” he says. “For example, if an operator owns a 110-horsepower Terex PT110F compact track loader, he cannot expect it to do the job of a 300-horsepower dedicated mulching machine.”

Land clearing and deforestation is one of the harshest applications in which to operate a machine, says Warfel, adding proper maintenance is a major factor in extending the life and longevity of any machine used in such environments.

Improper maintenance can lead to premature wear of vital components like the undercarriage to wood debris building up in the engine compartments, which could result in a fire. Following the machine manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for maintenance is the best way to get the most from the machine.

Because attachments have advanced in reliability, ease of use, and quality over the years, they have become more accepted in the marketplace, and therefore, demand has increased, says Warfel.

“Compact loaders used to go out on rental with a standard bucket attachment. Now because there are a variety of attachment options to match different applications, compact loaders are one of the most widely used pieces of machinery on any job site thanks to the versatility that changing out attachments gives operators,” he adds.

When choosing attachments for a compact loader, it is important to pay particular attention to the attachment’s flow requirements, says Warfel.

“Attachments that require continuous hydraulic flow such as augers, brooms, or mulchers do not work as efficiently if the compact loader’s hydraulic specifications do not meet the attachment’s needs,” he says.

“In this case, the demands of the rest of the compact loader’s systems can result in sluggish attachment operation or may cut hydraulic flow to the attachment altogether. This can be very frustrating to owners and operators who are trying to increase the usage of their equipment.”

Flow and pressure work together to increase a unit’s productivity and efficiency when carrying high-demand attachments.

“Unfortunately, the auxiliary hydraulic pressure psi is widely overlooked in the selection process,” says Warfel. “Most contractors are only concerned with the flow capabilities of the unit and they seldom consider the pressure and how this affects the overall performance of the attachment.”

Contractors need to ensure the unit’s pressure matches the attachments’ specification.

“Too much flow can damage hydraulic drive motors and solenoids inside the attachment,” says Warfel. “If the attachment does not have enough pressure, it will not perform correctly.”

Once the amount of pressure needed is established, then contractors have to consider the flow and pressure as a combined force and how this will affect their productivity, he adds.

“By being able to calculate the unit’s hydraulic horsepower, contractors can then pick the best unit for maximum productivity,” says Warfel.

In calculating hydraulic horsepower, take the gallons per minute (GPM)—
or flow of the unit—and multiply it by the psi—or pressure—and then divide that total by the constant, which is 1,714, says Warfel.

For example: a unit with 45 GPM and a pressure of 3,800 psi would have a hydraulic horsepower of 99.7.

Other factors and conditions to consider when selecting a loader and attachments to use when clearing away brush and small trees on a job site are: How large is the project? How many acres need to be cleared? What type of material is being cleared?

For example, hard woods, soft woods, and invasive species such as Russian olive or kudzu all have different methods contractors can use to effectively remove them.

“Also, underfoot conditions can dictate what type of machine to be used,” says Warfel. “If the job is on hilly, rocky, muddy, or swampy ground conditions or if the contractor is operating in the winter when the ground is frozen factors into the machine decision,” he says. “If the machine is doing right-of-way work alongside a highway, in a forest preserve doing selective clearing or a total knockdown, or on steep slopes all dictate the best type of machine to use.”

For example, if the contactor is operating in an area with a lot of rocks, shale, or other ground cover that would destroy a rubber track quickly, the best option would be a loader with steel tracks, says Warfel.

With new attachments coming to market all of the time, contractors would do well to look to local rental store owners for tools that make their jobs more efficient and more profitable, says Warfel.

“Because attachments make compact loaders very versatile machines when paired with a mulching head attachment, they can reduce the need for specialty equipment like a dedicated mulching machine in a rental fleet,” he adds.

Contractors can then take on projects with a variety of applications because they know they can pair their loader with the right attachment to get the job done, says Warfel.

Also, contractors can haul a smaller machine with attachments from job site to job site without the travel restrictions that renting a larger dedicated machine may have, he adds.

Paul Shevlin, a district manager for Geith, concurs that having the right attachment for the job reduces the time needed to complete the job, and therefore increase cost savings.

Geith offers a number of options for site preparation:

  • Heavy-duty digging buckets, used for digging and loading dirt. High-capacity, heavy-duty buckets are available for moving and loading large of amounts of dirt quickly. The bucket width and teeth used depends upon the soil conditions.
  • Severe-duty digging buckets designed for heavy digging and loading of hard and abrasive materials, suitable for digging and loading loose rock.
  • Ditching buckets used for a variety of applications, including material loading, ditch cleaning, grading, and landscaping. They also are used to form banks on roadsides and complete slope work on roadways.
  • Tilt buckets that serve the same ­applications as ditching buckets, but enable contractors to rotate the bucket 45 degrees in each direction.
  • The Geith ripper, which penetrates and scores tough, hard, and frozen ground.
  • Geith mechanical and hydraulic thumbs, used for land clearing applications. The Geith progressive linkage (pro-link) hydraulic thumb provides up to 180 degrees of rotation, allowing operators to pick up and place rocks, tree stumps, and pipes—among other odd-shaped objects—closer to the excavator. The thumb follows the bucket tip through an extended range, providing greater grabbing ability and placement.

“Geith quick couplers provide operators with a safe and simple design by which to change attachments on the job site, decreasing downtime and increasing overall productivity,” notes Shevlin.

The ease of attachment changes translates to fuel savings from a reduction in idle time while changing attachments, he says, adding that the Geith quick couplers also increase operators’ efficiency by allowing them to change attachments from the comfort and security of their cabs in 30 seconds.

The quick coupler can save up to 25% of total machine time compared to direct-mounted attachments, says Shevlin, adding that there isn’t a need for two or three people to hammer machine pins, thus increasing productivity and profitability.

“If you change attachments three times per day, you can gain up to three hours of additional productivity per day compared to direct mounted attachments,” he adds.

Geith recently introduced to the market a quick coupler control system for its hydraulic couplers. Designed with a simple and safe operating sequence, the IP65- and CE-compliant device satisfies present and developing ISO 13031 safety requirements, notes Shevlin.

“The ISO 13031 standard for quick couplers requires the coupler to have a back-up lock feature that prevents disengagement of the attachment in the event of loss or reduction of primary engagement forces,” he says, adding the standard is intended to guarantee a safe connection of the coupler and attachment.

In areas where confined space is a concern, such as against walls or under pipes, operators have the ability to reverse bucket orientation.

Geith offers several styles of teeth for site preparation.

The standard style provides a balance of strength and digging capability and is ideal for most general applications where breakage is not a problem, says Shevlin.

The flared style provides maximum coverage, but less penetration and is suited for smooth digging operations and general purpose cleanup, he says.

Tiger teeth provide maximum penetration and are designed for densely-compacted material such as clay. Twin tiger teeth provide enhanced fracture capability, but less penetration and more wear than a regular tiger tip, making it ideal for breaking materials, says Shevlin.

The Bolt-On Cutting Edge is designed to be ideal for rough grading and general purpose cleanup.

Geith attachments are typically rented in conjunction with an excavator from a dealer or rental house.

For land clearing projects, Doosan offers two different types of thumbs: a main pin thumb and a pro-link hydraulic thumb designed to work with multiple bucket widths.

“If a contractor is in an area to take down trees, they can use the excavator to dig around the trees or knock them over and with the thumb already on the machine, use it to sort through the brush and the trees and move them out of the way,” notes Lee Smith, Doosan attachment product specialist. “If they’re digging around in a rocky application, they can dig up the rocks and if they’re a reasonable size, they can move them and sort them as needed.”

After the material is sorted, an operator can use one of two types of Doosan ditching buckets—the standard and heavy-duty—to put grade on the area in which they are working. The operator also can use a plate compactor for compaction work, he adds.

It’s important to use a quick coupler on a machine to use those attachments, notes Smith.

“You can easily switch between attachments from the seat of the cab. You’re not taking the time to remove pins for various attachments,” he says. “You’re saving a lot of time and money just by adding that attachment on the end of your machine.”

Depending on the attachment needed and whether a contractor’s machine has a quick coupler, a contractor can rent the machine with the attachment already installed—such as a thumb—or rent the attachment on its own, such as a plate compactor.

Katie Althoff, Bobcat attachment ­product specialist, points out that attachments such as buckets and grapples—when paired with compact excavators, skid-steer, or compact track loaders—can help site prep contractors grow their business, make them more versatile, and reduce the need for specialty equipment.

“Renting attachments for projects such as vegetation management allows them to work when ground conditions may not be suitable for excavating or moving dirt. Attachments such as flail mowers for excavators, or forestry cutters, rotary cutters, brush saws, and flail cutters for compact loaders are common for performing site preparation or vegetation management.”

For excavators, Bobcat offers trenching buckets, used to dig narrow, deep trenches while maintaining optimal breakout force and fast cycle times. Another option: three-tine grapples and clamps, which help grip and handle bulky material such as brush, logs, and landscaping stones, “making it ideal for land clearing and site preparation applications,” she says.

Compact excavator attachments are available as pin-ons on the X-Change attachment mounting system.

“It’s a simpler way for operators to efficiently change attachments to best match the application at hand,” says Althoff. “A hydraulic X-Change mounting system makes it even easier and faster for operators to change excavator attachments and helps to ensure the operator is matching the right size of bucket to theexcavating task.”

Loader attachments include combination buckets “which are ideal for site prep contractors who want a four-in-one bucket,” notes Althoff. “The combination bucket is used for loading, carrying, and dumping, as a grapple for handling odd-shaped objects, or for dozing, leveling, and spreading material with the clamshell open.”

Another option: low-profile buckets “which offer excellent cutting edge visibility and good bucket breakout force,” says Althoff. “These buckets work well in grading and leveling applications as well as carrying, loading, and other material handling because they have a longer bottom to handle materials better.”

Root grapples are designed to be used on loaders to clear rocks, roots, brush, overgrowth and debris with ease, says Althoff.

“The curved, skeletal tool design allows materials to be picked up ­without driving the teeth into the ground,” she says.

For graders, Bobcat offers rough or final grade with a six-way or eight-way hydraulically controlled moldboard. It can be paired with a laser system for precise grading of plus or minus .25 inches and is available in heavy-duty 96-inch and 108-inch versions.

Additionally, box blades are used for rough grading and land preparation tasks and can be paired with a laser system for precise grading of plus or minus .25 inches.

Bobcat has introduced another option for grade control systems for use with its skid-steer, compact track, and all-wheel steer loaders. A partnership between Trimble and the Bobcat Co. has allowed for the introduction of the first 3D Ready System on compact loaders, notes Althoff.

The Trimble CGS900 automatic grade control option is for use with Bobcat 96- and 108-inch heavy-duty grader attachments, expanding on the existing 2D laser-guided and sonic/slope systems offered by the Bobcat Co.

The new grade control system—paired with a Bobcat loader and grader ­attachment—will make it easier for ­operators to complete a variety of projects such as highway and railway construction and other complex flat work projects, says Althoff.

“The ability to design and upload job sites to the control box and change the contour of the ground by working off elevation coordinates are a few benefits that the 3D-ready kit has compared to the current 2D system offered on Bobcat compact loaders,” she says.

The 2D system works off of a single plane—either flat, single, or dual slope—whereas the 3D system works off of elevation coordinates set up around the job site, giving operators the ability to grade valleys, ditches, and contours, points out Althoff.

“With improved accuracy and job-site mapping, contractors have less rework, staking and checking, lower operating costs, improve material usage, and improve their productivity, boosting their bottom line,” she says.

Additionally, the Bobcat depth check system for use with select compact excavators is a guidance system that informs excavator operators through the deluxe instrument panel the dig depth or distance to target depth.

“These features help keep operators from over-digging or under-digging, lessen the need to stop the machine to measure the trench depth, and prevent the need for workers to enter and exit the trench with a measuring device,” says Althoff.

Through their versatility, the attachments provide time and cost efficiencies, which help to increase the customer base, she says.

“Attachments often cost less than ­buying a new dedicated machine and can be quickly interchanged with machines that have multi-functioning capabilities such as skid-steer loaders,” points out Althoff. “Some contractors will purchase site prep attachments to replace the cost of a dedicated piece of equipment; however, others decide to rent attachments as needed.”

Renting the correct attachment depends on the job site and how frequently the attachment will be used, says Althoff, adding that if it is to be used multiple times during the week or month, there’s a better ROI in purchasing it.

Hyundai offers its HDB series of hydraulic breakers, with 14 models sized to work with excavators ranging from 0.5–100 metric tons.

Breakers are used in site preparation applications, especially to break up large rocks and concrete, notes Corey Rogers, marketing manager.

“A contractor using an excavator equipped with a breaker can tackle ­substantially larger projects faster than a contractor using a handheld jackhammer,” says Rogers. “With breakers, because they are impacting against very hard surfaces at rates anywhere from 200 to1,200 blows per minute, the key design challenge is avoiding excess wear and tear on the breaker and the excavator.”

For example, the larger chisel diameter on Hyundai breakers increases the strength and durability of both the chisel and the hammer, he says.

Anti-blank firing, standard on Hyundai breakers, is designed to help ensure long life for chisel pins, tie bolts, front heads, and other components.

The Helac PowerTilt Hydraulic Bucket Tilting Attachment is designed to provide backhoes and excavators with up to a 90-degree left and right bucket swing for a full 180-degree total side-to-side swing capability.

“It does well when you’re finished grading, doing slopes on a hill, or even in ditches,” notes Jessica Howisey, Helac marketing communications manager, of its versatility. “It eliminates extra machines. You can use one and move that bucket all different angles versus moving the excavator around.”

The attachment pin mounts to the dipper stick. PowerTilt is furnished with two different, built-in couplers: the standard, hook-style mechanical quick-coupler uses OEM pin-on buckets while the optional universal coupler uses quick-hitch style buckets. The configurations are custom-designed for each machine brand, says Howisey.

PowerTilt can be combined with most hydraulic quick-couplers. Each PowerTilt is equipped with an internal cross-port relief valve that provides hydraulic overload protection. Seven PowerTilt models are available—sized by machine weight—for backhoes and excavators up to 75,000 pounds.

Helac Corp.’s hydraulic pin grab coupler option provides more choices in addition to the existing half hitch, Universal (Wain-Roy/CP), and brand specific couplers. The pin grab coupler still allows the PowerTilt to rotate up to 180 degrees side to side. The variable pin center design allows easy pick up and change of the widest range of OEM attachments, says Howisey.

The PowerTilt hydraulic pin grab coupler option is designed to make it easier for the operator to change attachments from the cab. The coupler provides both a front and rear safety locking mechanism to secure both attachment pins and is designed to work in all types of severe and dirty environments.

Curling the attachment guarantees it is in a safe position for engagement and release, says Howisey. In the event of improper attachment connection, the front locking clasp retains the attachment to prevent unexpected separation. In case of hydraulic cylinder or hose failure, the rear sliding hook maintains connection to the attachment rear pin to prevent unexpected separation.

By changing attachments from the cab, the hydraulic coupler is designed to save an operator considerable machine operating time, offering the ability to reverse buckets to shovel mode at any time to excavate against walls, under pipes, and other terrains.

The hydraulic pin grab coupler option is available for 5- to 30-ton excavators and loader backhoes in 18 coupler combinations.

With its ability to turn a 90-degree angle and get under pipes and utilities, the PowerTilt reduces manual labor on jobs, points out Howisey.

Ron Peters, product manager for EDGE brand attachments, Manitou Americas, says his company offers a hopper broom attachment that is appropriate for site preparation work.

“It can be used for cleaning up roads after construction from trucks or equipment being driven from the construction site back out on the road and laying mud out on the road,” points out Peters. “They can come with a hopper broom, clean that up, and get that road back to the original condition it was in.”

Broom attachments are selected by the material to be removed and the surface on which the broom is used. The bi-directional collection broom allows an operator to sweep in forward and reverse, and is designed for optimal performance in milling, material pickup, road maintenance, and job-site cleanup.

Peters says the hopper broom has a bucket in the back and a broom in front and the broom sweeps the material up and deposits it in the bucket. Upon finishing the sweeping, the operator takes the skid-steer loader with the attachment on it and dumps it into a truck where it can be taken to where fill is needed or any other application.

The hopper broom comes in three widths: 60-inch, 72-inch, and 84-inch. It is sized to the skid-steer or track loader and can go on any machine with a ­universal mount.

An optional dust control kit helps reduce dust and flying debris. An optional gutter brush attachment helps remove debris from curbsides and hard-to-reach areas. A rubber skirt keeps the dirt and debris contained.

The brushes can be replaced, so as they wear, they can be adjusted down and when they get to a certain point, they can be replaced, says Peters. Also, a bolt-on cutting edge on the bottom of the hopper broom bucket can be replaced at it wears.

The attachment is time- and cost-efficient for its ability to clean the site to a “normal condition” without the need for manual labor of sweeping or ­shoveling, says Peters. “Quickly, you can sweep up material and dump it out,” he says.

As with all attachments, renting it or buying it depends on the frequency of use.

There are many cases in which renting attachments makes more of a financial case than buying them.

Renting equipment transcends merely exchanging money to rent equipment for a specified time, notes Troy Tagliarino, district manager for Sunbelt Rentals’ Colorado and Utah Mountain District.

Contractors also are getting the benefit of the rental company’s expertise and 24/7 availability in the case of an issue, he adds, pointing out that many contractors must do road work at night when there are minimal traffic concerns.

“Contractors are paying for our expertise, availability, service, maintenance, and being on site during the time,” he says. “There are many advantages of rental over outright purchase.”

As the road-building process is a multi-layered one, beginning with excavation and moving through to base preparation, Sunbelt Rentals offers ground thaw heaters to keep crews moving on timeline targets for cost efficiencies, notes Tagliarino.

His region encounters a great deal of freezing problems, so ground thaw heaters are a favored piece of equipment on the job site, he adds.

Attachments allow contractors to tend to a variety of tasks using a single piece of machinery, he points out.

A contractor could rent a single skid-steer and then use a hammer to break concrete or rock and an auger to set a post or dig a hole.

“We’re starting to see more compaction attachments on excavators where there’s a hydraulic hammer that goes out of the end of the boom,” says Tagliarino. “Contractors are able to use that machine not only to dig the trench but switch the bucket off.”

Attachments eliminate labor time and costs, says Tagliarino, pointing out the equipment is doing the work once done by people using shovels and smaller implements.

Additionally, contractors are using more creative solutions on the job, such as milling up asphalt with a skid-steer.

“They can fill up a scarifier machine that can shoot the asphalt or groove it,” adds Tagliarino. “They’re coming up with trencher attachments to put on a skid-steer. Now the contractor no longer needs two machines. For the cost of a skid-steer and a trencher, they can easily buy the skid-steer and a number of attachments which will allow them to do a number of things such as break concrete and drill holes.

“For a contractor, the investment then becomes his ability to do a number of things. For say, $50,000, he can have one guy do 20 different things, whereas the same $50,000 gets him a few machines where he can only do a few things.”

Sunbelt Rentals recently introduced a new industrial matting product that ­augments site preparation work for road construction.

Sunbelt MegaDeck Mats are large-panel, heavy-duty access matting designed and engineered to provide a secure, stable, and flat platform for personnel, vehicles, and equipment in a variety of environments, including construction.

The mats have a low-profile traction pattern to provide traction for vehicles—including tracked vehicles—and a slip-resistant platform for personnel. The mats’ compressed load weight-bearing capacity is up to 600 psi.

MegaDeck is designed to be strong with a slight flex allowing the mat to ­conform to uneven terrain without ­cracking or breaking.

Each mat measures 14 feet by 7.5 feet with a 13-foot by 6.5-foot usable surface and is maneuvered by a standard forklift.

Sunbelt Rentals also offers DuraDeck access and ground protection mats to provide temporary roadways, offering access and traction over sand, mud, dirt, and grass areas. They are designed to eliminate rutting, soil compaction, and other damage to sensitive grass and turf.

Each standard mat, manufactured from HDPE, can support up to 80 tons static load and be used more than once. As a result, the mats protect personnel, equipment, vehicles, and turf and keep vehicles from getting stuck. GX_bug_web

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