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Construction Equipment Guide
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Mon August 12, 2019 - National Edition
For erosion control contractors like Green Thumb Hydroseeding and Erosion Control, productivity is vital. More time loading and reloading the tanks means less time spraying and applying. To complete and be competitive for contracts, Green Thumb needs to be as efficient as possible: they can't let their equipment slow them down.
Fed up with 14 years of their unreliable and clog-prone machines, Green Thumb needed more spray for their buck. After flying to California to see the equipment in action himself, Jason Henderson of Green Thumb purchased two Apex Xa4000 models and put the new Apex hydroseed applicators to the test on a recent highway project.
Highway 281 runs 580 miles north and south through the center of the United States, reaching from North Dakota and southern Texas. The highway cuts through the hills of eastern Nebraska, where recent construction on the four-lane section of Route 281 required reseeding the rights of way.
Green Thumb used Profile's hydro-blanket bonded fiber matrix (BFM) and sprayed the 3:1 slopes right from the highway. Five of Henderson's employees applied 52.5 ton of material on the 35 acre project, completing it in just 2 days.
One reason Henderson was able to finish the job so quickly and effectively was the power of the Apex pump. Apex applicators use centrifugal pumps with a vortex impeller, which moves the mulch in a circular direction, so slurries circulate along the perimeter of the pump and have little to no contact with the impeller. This allows delicate seeds and nearly any viscosity of material to flow freely through the pump.
The vortex pump combined with minimizing twists and turns in the suction pipe allowed for discharge of the entire tank of material without clogging, ensuring a steady flow over long distances, greater efficiency and consistent, high-quality results. Henderson was able to fit 1 ton of BFM into a tank at a time and spray uninterrupted, only stopping to reload the tank with material and water.
"We don't have any issues with under-agitated material causing blockage or pump obstructions. It is just simply outperforming the competitor hands down." he said.
Whereas hose spraying takes three to five operators, tower work takes only two or three, freeing up hands to do more productive work like preparing the next part of the project to be sprayed.
With their previous 4,000-gal. hydroseed applicators, Green Thumb was only able to run 1,700 lbs. of BFM per load. With the Apex unit, they get up to 800 more lbs. of material per load — spraying up to 4,000 lbs. of more material in the same amount of time with no added fuel or labor and no extra support equipment.
"They've widened the top, adding significant space for stacking mulch and in turn making less trips to the storage site for reloading. It's a big time saver," Henderson said.
Less travel time means more productivity per day.
Comparable hydroseed applicator tanks are up to 4 ft. longer, extending the wheelbase and decreasing maneuverability on the job site. While working on Highway 281 afforded Henderson and his operators plenty of maneuverability, the extra wheel base can hinder maneuverability on space-constrained jobs.
Between increased capacity, more maneuverability and less clogging, Henderson estimates the Apex hydroseed applicator is 17 to 20 percent more productive than his previous equipment with no additional burden, making the return worth the initial investment.
For Henderson, spraying more material every day without any added cost means more profit. After 14 years with other hydroseed applicators, Green Thumb's switch to Apex helps Henderson maximize time, material and labor, making every minute on the job more productive. Powerful pumps and larger tanks allow him to finish projects like reseeding Route 281 faster so he can move his teams and equipment onto the next contract.