State road projects drive demand for tech-heavy milling
- State investment in road preservation and rehabilitation projects is expanding the market for milling machines, reports Construction Equipment, and the four manufacturers in the market — BOMAG, Roadtec, Caterpillar and Wirtgen — are responding with technology improvements to their products.
- Manufacturers have upgraded from the conventional 2D milling, in which sonic or mechanical sensors follow on-site grades or stringlines to set the milling depth, to 3D milling, which follows a virtual design for reference. Roadtec’s control system, for example, includes sonic sensors, slope sensors and sensors on endgate cylinders but can also integrate 3D or GPS milling systems.
- Contractors also are looking for technology features that will help them manage costs. Equipment makers have responded with options like machine telematics, for example, that allow users to monitor machine usage in real time and diagnose problems quickly to avoid downtime.
President Donald Trump proposed $200 billion in federal infrastructure funding to spur $1.5 trillion in total investment from states, local governments and private entities. While this plan is likely on hold until after the midterm elections in November, contractors continue to stay busy with state-level infrastructure improvement programs.
Downtime is one of the more costly delays that can occur when working with equipment as complex as milling machines. A Construction Equipment study aimed to quantify the costs of lost productivity, impact on other jobsite activity and bringing the equipment back online. The report found that in a worst case scenario, a down unit that’s linked to other resources and production teams can cost as much as $350 an hour, or $2,800 for eight hours if the situation is unmitigated. Telematics systems, however, can flag potential equipment issues like engine stress or strain for managers to address before a complete breakdown.
Features that improve the accuracy of work also help keep projects on track by reducing the risk of rework, which can be as high as 9% of a project’s contract value, according to a report from the Navigant Construction Forum. For example, Caterpillar says its 3D components provide better depth accuracy than external 2D components like stringline, which can be knocked over by workers or blown by the wind.
- Construction Equipment Milling Machines Offer Fewer Players, But More Technology
Follow Kathleen Brown on Twitter