Within Weeks, New Paver Wins APAC Branch Awards
April 9, 2014
Article and photos by Tom Kuennen, Principal- ExpresswaysOnline.com
A new paver acquired by the APAC Kansas Inc.-Shears Division, Salina Branch in central Kansas – an Oldcastle Materials company – helped its owner win multiple performance awards only weeks after being acquired.
The Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association presented its first place, 2012 Unique Paving Award to the Salina Branch for outstanding construction of quality hot mix asphalt pavements for its work on the Kansas Highway Patrol’s Practice Track in Salina.
KAPA also presented the Shears division Salina branch its first place 2012 Full-Depth Paving Award for outstanding construction in quality HMA pavements for its work on Water Well Road at Ohio Street, for Saline County.
The award winning pavements were made possible by skilled crews working on a 10-ft. tracked Vögele Vision 5200-2 paver. While that’s not unusual, what is different is that the paver had been owned less than three months prior to placement of the winning pavements.
“Is it unique for a company to win two paving awards with very limited exposure to a machine?” said Shawn Commerford, construction manager of APAC-Kansas Inc.’s Shears division in Salina, Kan. “Yes, it is. It says a lot about our people and the machine itself. Our people know what they are doing, but the machine obviously is built correctly.”
APAC crews from the Salina Branch executed the highway patrol test track work on Sept. 20, 2012. It was constituted of 9,300 tons of RAP base, 5,812 tons of 4-in. base course, and 3,487 tons of 1.5-in. friction course.
“We did the Figure 8 test track barely three months after purchasing the Vision paver,” Commerford said. “Using a brand new machine, we were able to pave figure eights with multiple superelevated curves in it that led out into a 10,000-ton square parking lot. We went right from the figure eights to the parking lot, with minimal adjustments, and you can’t tell the difference between the parking lot and the track.”
For the full-depth award, not two weeks after the highway patrol track, Salina Branch placed 7,600 tons of 4-in. warm mix asphalt containing 50 percent RAP, and topped it with 2,500 tons of 2-in. warm mix containing 25 percent RAP.
New Brand, New Paver
APAC-Kansas Salina Branch had never owned a Vögele paver before, so a Vision paver demonstration by distributor Murphy Tractor & Equipment Company, Kansas City, Mo. was essential.
That Vision 5200-2 was purchased, delivered, rolled off the low boy, and the next day taken to an eight-day, 22,000-ton paving job, Commerford said. Hands-on orientation by sales staff took a half day. “After that, they enjoyed two-and-a-half days of sitting back and watching us go, because the Vision paver is so user friendly and easy to operate,” he added. “Our guys took it and ran with it.”
Productivity is key for paving contractors, and the new paver is key to Salina Branch’s productivity. “The more you get done, the easier it is to run a machine,” said Vern G. Hopkins, vice president, APAC-Kansas’ Salina Branch. “That you are able to set the paver and go makes a big difference, for example, when you are doing variable widths. One reason we bought the paver was that we wanted the front-mounted screed. It’s a real tool for production, and the more production you get, the more money you make.”
The Vision paver is one of 20-plus pavers among eight branches of APAC-Kansas, but to Commerford and his crew, it’s the go-to machine.
“The accessibility and ease of using the electronics appealed to us,” Commerford said. “We’ve never seen anything where you can walk alongside the machine and operate the screed controls with one hand. And the paver operator’s vision and accessibility to his controls are by far like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
“The sophisticated controls are easy to learn,” said Tom Menzer, Wirtgen product specialist for Murphy Tractor. “At start they may be overwhelming to look at, but in a day the crew had it down.”
“Its track plows – the little guards in front of the tracks – clear the paths in front of the tracks of any asphalt that’s spilled in front of the track, so the machine won’t have to ride up and down, forcing the screed to compensate,” Commerford said. “But they’re never long enough to compensate, and aren’t made to do that.”
Steering controls, and the calibration that can be done at the steering controls, are other advantages, Commerford said. “If you start tracking one way, you can get in there, calibrate it and steer back, getting a nice, even steer. All the basics make it a great paver.”
Enhanced View to Hopper
Visibility into the paver hopper always has been difficult with conventional asphalt pavers, but not with the new paver, Commerford said. “You are up so high that the angle is right to look into the hopper,” he said. “You can simply sit in the seat, as one sits in a chair, and look inside the hopper. I’ve run pavers for 12 years, and when you get down into the end of the load, you always catch yourself leaning forward and looking. Or you have to have someone else there. But at APAC we don’t like anyone around our hoppers other than our designated ‘truck spotter.’ We want the operator to have total control of the material flow out of the trucks, and that consists not only having good view of the side of the machine, but also into the hopper.
“Anyone in the paving game will tell you that the auger feed is very important,” he added. “They either are run too low, or too full. With poor visibility you have a nightmare on your hands. But with the Vision paver you have everything right there in view of the operator.”
The pavers are complex, though, and sometimes they don’t perform the way they’re supposed to. “We’ve had some ‘bobbles’ here and there,” he said. “They are issues to work through. And the relationship we have with Tom Menzer and response time we get from Murphy Tractor is incredible.
APAC has found the Vision paver to be so versatile that it uses it at virtually every opportunity. “We used to have a bigger paver and a medium-sized paver, and we would pick which paver would go to which job,” Commerford said. “We don’t have to do that anymore. We still run other pavers, due to scheduling. But the versatility of this machine makes that choice very simple.
“Case in-point: Last Thursday at 8 p.m. we finished up a 2,100-ton overlay of a parking lot for Kansas DOT,” Commerford added. “Friday morning we hauled it to Salina to pave a 55-ton parking lot that’s no bigger than the size of this room. We no longer have to pick and choose which paver we’re going to haul to each job, depending on the size of a job. With the DOT job we paved inside two sheds, but also were paving outside, stretched out 15-, 14- or 12-ft., but with the versatility of this paver we also can get inside the salt sheds and maintenance sheds, where we’re narrow as we can be.”
In 2014 the Vision 5200-2 has been succeeded by the Tier 4 interim-compliant Vision 5200-2i paver.
- Photo 1: Award-winner pavements were made possible by skilled crews working with new, versatile 10-ft. paver
- Photo 2: Shears division Salina branch its first place 2012 Full-Depth Paving Award for outstanding construction in quality HMA pavements for its work on Water Well Road at Ohio Street, for Saline County.
- Photo 3:Front-mount screed was specified by APAC Salina Branch
- Photo 4: From left, APAC-Kansas’ Shawn Commerford and Murphy Tractor’s Tom Menzer
Click on photos to enlarge