S&S Paving’s Move to New Model Pays Big Dividends in California

Wed February 21, 2007 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

A California paving contractor who traded in his model 880 WB paver from Vogele America Inc. for its successor, the 2116W, had documented improvements in productivity and profitability of the new model over the old.

S&S Paving of Calabasas, Calif., bought an 8-ft. 880 WB in 2000 after a procession of eight pavers from a competing line, but recently replaced it with the new 2116W.

“The reason I shifted to the Vogele America platform was performance,” said Danny Marshall, secretary.

“Originally I didn’t know anything about the line, other than what our distributor, Nixon-Egli Corp., had told me. I had been with the previous make for nearly 30 years, but I said I’d try it, even though I’d tried a lot of other machines in that period. We took the 880 WB to a difficult Petromat overlay — with a lot of tonnage to lay — and it outperformed anything that I’d ever used.”

The improvement in productivity of the Vogele America 880 WB over his existing pavers was startling, Marshall said.

“With my existing machine, we had figured a day and a half to pave it, based on tonnage per hour,” he said. “I told Nixon-Egli that this was a demo only, and that we were not ready to buy it. But halfway through the job, I called them to say that we’re going to keep the machine, and we finished the job in less than a day.”

One reason was the machine’s traction under difficult conditions.

“It was summer, and over a hundred degrees,” Marshall said. “Under those conditions Petromat can be very slick for a smaller rubber-tired paver to push trucks and function as a big machine. And it did exactly that: the small machine functioned as a large machine, with traction the way it should be. We had it for five years and had extremely good success with it.”

Stepped Up to 2116W

But after five years, Marshall began to look at new pavers.

“When we started to look again, as always I was open to all suggestions,” he said. “Nixon-Egli suggested we look at the 880 WB’s replacement, with larger horsepower, larger tires, and a bit more capacity. So we took that machine — the 2116W — out on a demo and didn’t send it back, either, because it was far superior to the machine that was far superior five years earlier.”

Marshall was encouraged because the improvements he saw in the 2116W were just what he wanted.

“The improvements they made were exactly what we thought they should have been,” Marshall said. “No manufacturer ever does that; instead they follow strictly what they want to do, not what the customer wants to do: a little more horsepower, a little more traction, a little more of a ’big paver’ feel to it.

“My operator said, ’This feels like a 10-foot machine to me, not an eight-foot’,” Marshall said. ’The predecessor, the 880 WB, felt like an eight-foot machine, with superior traction, and virtually no down time. But this machine is mechanically more accessible to my mechanics, and easy to maintain; virtually every new aspect of it was in improvement.

“It’s the first eight-foot paver with the general feel of a large machine, because of its traction and the way it handles trucks. The added length of about 20 inches is an asset, there’s no doubt about it, and it handles just as well as the 880 WB.”

Its handling ease is one reason the machine does small driveways and large parking lots with the same productivity, Marshall said.

“We do a lot of small paving with it, and do half-million square foot jobs,” he said. “On those large jobs it’s a l0-foot paver, and we open it up to 14 foot wide and make our pulls. It’s the most tractive small machine, period.”

That pays off in doing steep driveways up in the hills above Los Angeles.

“We’ve made our bacon on paving jobs no one else would undertake,” Marshall said. “For steep drives the 2116W is superior to any other machine we’ve had, other than a tracked machine. We just completed a 19 percent grade with it. But on our general projects the track machines can tear up the subgrade too much. So we’ve moved away from the tracked pavers in general.”

Smoother Mats, Less Fatigue

Another benefit of his 2116W and HR400D screed is the smoothness of the mats it produces, especially important for public works paving.

“The mat superiority to our previous brand is not even comparable,” Marshall said.

“We had a lot of those models,” he said, “and in the 15 years we used them, they never laid a mat like this. The 2116W places a superior mat and our inspectors just love it. They’re tight, with precompaction out of the screed, and our rollers only have to finish the mat. The joint lines between the previous pass and new pass are far superior to what we were doing. I’ve compared many brands against the Vogele machines, and nothing comes close. From the functionality, to equipment maintenance, to the end product, there are no similarities.”

The ergonomics of the Vogele America 2116W are such that it greatly reduces operator fatigue and that boosts productivity as well, Marshall said.

“I’m an old operator myself, and know that the fatigue factor of the operators of the 2116W has dropped considerably,” he said.

Calculating the Benefits

The enhanced confidence that the 2116W brings to the crew has enhanced S&S Paving’s bottom line, Marshall said. For example, being able to plow through the spilled asphalt in one pull — instead of the usual three pulls — means the crew spends more time paving rather than correcting mistakes, and this directly reduces potential overtime.

Marshall has compared the equipment use between his esteemed 880 WB and new 2116W, and said the new machine pays off even better than its predecessor.

“My rule of thumb is that the 2116W costs us 15 to 20 percent less cost per ton to lay, and that’s a big, big deal,” Marshall said.

“The machine is more forgiving, and that comes out on the bottom line,” he said. “And the intrinsic part is crew happiness, because they do a better job with less touch-up work. Blemishes have virtually disappeared. The only change is the crew, yet we do more per day, and they’re less fatigued. Those incremental improvements each day, by the end of the year, equate to tens of thousands of dollars of ’non-costs’ that go directly into pure profit, that we already had figured as part of the raw cost of a job. That was an unforeseen benefit.”

Another benefit is the 2116W’s fuel economy, Marshall said.

“It’s a noticeable difference,” he said. “We’re using about 20 percent less fuel, with more horsepower, and working at a higher rpm. It’s exciting for a guy like me to benefit from this machine. We’re not a large company, but we do large jobs, so we have to function as a large firm. And the 2116W helps us do that.”

Rounding out S&S’s lineup is a Hamm HD 12 roller.

“It’s our general purpose roller,” Marshall said. “We got rid of a roller that was only four years old, but was breaking the bank. We acquired the Hamm in mid-2005 and have been very impressed with the roller. The construction of the machine is superior to 90 percent of all other rollers. The offset built into those little rollers is a good thing; they’re good on parking lots where there are a lot of radii to roll. They’re insurance on a job.”

(This article appears courtesy of “Wirtgen Technology” magazine.)

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