Managing Your Job Site

July 1, 2011

Whether it be compliance with increasingly strict regulations, time and cost efficiencies, safety, or the ability to reuse job-site material as the basis of a fuel source, today’s grading and excavation contractors are relying on the products that will be the means to those end goals.

“In today’s market, there are three main objectives: getting paid to go in and clear in a timely matter, ability to reduce the material efficiently, and getting paid premium to sell the material as well,” says Michael Stanton, assistant regional manager for the northeast United States for Morbark.

A common job in grading and excavation is pipeline cleaning for the shale gas market, particularly focusing on the East Coast in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and southern New York, says Stanton.

Morbark manufactures a variety of products for the job site, many of which are being used in the shale gas region, which encompasses damp job sites with hills and a lot of obstacles, he adds.

Morbark has sold more track whole-tree chippers in the past year or so than in the past couple of years combined, Stanton says.

“While you can tow most of our units to the site with a semi, these particular units have their own tracks like an excavator or a bulldozer would have,” says Stanton. “We utilize Caterpillar undercarriages. We have a long relationship with Michigan Cat, which provides us with our engines and also with our undercarriages. We use anything as small as a Cat 312 all the way to a Cat 330 EL undercarriage.

“A lot of these job sites are generally clearing job sites where the material must be removed from the job site,” Stanton says. “They can’t afford to be down. With the weight of some of our machines along with wet and uneven ground, you can’t have semis bringing the equipment in there, so they have to be self-propelled.”

Some of the units have self-loaders on them and some operate with wireless remote control. Morbark also offers single, double, and triple grouser pads.

Morbark’s 3800 Wood Hog is a commonly used machine by those in the grading and excavation industry, Stanton notes.

“It’s still big enough to able to take logs up to 22 inches in diameter but small enough to get on and off job sites relatively easy coming in under 70,000 pounds when equipped with a Caterpillar 320L undercarriage,” he adds.

Morbark also offers whole tree chippers on tracks.

“The reason someone would use a chipper over a grinder would be the end product and the overall efficiently of a chipper over a grinder in processing whole trees,” Stanton says. “One makes a chip, one makes a shred.”

“What comes into play is what you can do with the product when you’re done with it,” he says. “Certain jobs you can leave material right on the job site as they spread it around the base after they clear it. Some of it they haul off and use for a fuel-type product.”

Unique to the Morbark product line is the Morbark Quick Switch Conversion Kit that allows horizontal grinder owners to diversify their product offering without having to purchase a second machine, says Stanton.

The kit allows users to make mulch and switch to producing chips or sawdust within hours.

“It takes less than a day to do in most applications,” says Stanton. “You can put whole-tree chipper knives in it and utilize your wood grinder as a wood chipper. Some of the unique products that you can make helps you make a wood chip that can be sold for a biofuel-type product, but you can also make sawdust with it to sell to pellet plants or even coal-fire generation plants that are burning it with coal.”

Having such a capability allows grading and excavation contractors to maximize their return on the investment, Stanton says.

“Being able to quickly process material that has been pulled out of the ground is very important,” points out Michael Spreadbury, marketing manager for the Peterson Pacific Corp., manufacturer of horizontal grinders, chippers and flails, and blower trucks and trailers.

One of the most popular of the company’s line of horizontal grinders is the 4710 series for high-volume production with demanding end-product specifications, says Spreadbury.

The Peterson model 4710B Horizontal Recycler is a track-mounted version of the 4700B trailer-mounted 765-horsepower Horizontal Recycler, with has 18 inches of ground clearance. The track mounting reduces material handling costs in conventional recycling yards. Other features include an adaptive control system, Peterson’s three-stage grinding process, a quick-change multiple grate system, a latching impact release system, an impact cushion system, and drum-style and pinned-style rotor options.

Another popular system is the 5710C Track-Mounted Horizontal Grinder, a 1,050-horsepower machine.

“All of our machines are available on tracks,” Spreadbury points out. “Being able to reposition the machine or move it down the road to your next spot is a very important feature that land-clearing operations are always looking for.”

That the machines are also easy to move is another benefit, he adds.

“Being able to have a machine that can get you the production you are looking for is important, but also to be able to transport it easily without special permits is a very important feature,” Spreadbury explains.

Peterson Pacific Corp. also has optional stump splitters for processing difficult-to-grind stumps.

Tim Wenger, president and sales manager for CW Mill Equipment, notes that the market for grinders has changed during the four decades in which his company has been manufacturing them.

“We started off in the agriculture industry for grinding for cattle feed, and in the 1980s were utilized for woodwaste reduction at landfills, and in the 1990s it became more difficult for contractors to bulldoze the material and burn it,” he says. “The need for volume reduction developed and the tough grinder and horizontal grinders were utilized for volume reduction.”

In 2002, the company started track grinders, which are primarily used for mulch production. A few years after that, the company developed horizontal grinders. The chipper is a popular option to use for fuel.

Current customers are doing pipeline and right-of-way work, Wenger notes.

To that end, they’re using HogZilla grinders. The HogZilla TC series features a Cat, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel 840- to 2,000-horsepower engine; a torque converter drive; a clog and leak-resistant radiator for extreme conditions; an adjustable 36-inch and 38-inch swing or a 46-inch-by-64-inch hammermill; a radial 60-degree stacking elevator; a combustion air and radiator pre-cleaner enclosure; auxiliary service hydraulics/30-cfm-plus air compressor, and an optional wide frame with a 72-inch conveyor.

The HC series grinders offer a 650- to 1,000-horsepower Cat, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel engine; a hydraulic fluid coupling drive; a 31-inch-by-62-inch hammermill; an optional torque converter drive; a radial 30-degree stacking elevator; a radiator pre-cleaner; an auxiliary service hydraulics/air compressor; an optional Northshore or 180E Prentice loader; and optional self-propelled tracks.

The WC tub grinders feature a 525- to 860-horsepower Cat, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel engine; a hydraulic clutch drive; a 31-inch-by-54-inch hammermill; an optional fluid coupling or torque converter drive; auxiliary service hydraulics; an air compressor; an optional radial stacking elevator; an optional Northshore or 180E Prentice loader; and optional self-propelled tracks.

The HZL series is a horizontal loader that features a choice of 525- to 1,000-horsepower Cat, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel engines; a choice of mill drives, including wet clutch, hydraulic coupling, or torque converter; choice of hammermill configurations; auxiliary service hydraulics; compressed-air system with maintenance support kit; radial stacking elevator; a choice of a feeder system, including drag chain, rubber belt, and metal-track; dual feed-rollers or 44-inch single wheel; and hot vulcanized continuous conveyor and elevator belts.

Geotechnical products are becoming much more high tech, says Scott Slater, business line manager for geotechnical drilling and exploration and ADS Oil & Gas (Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions), Atlas Copco Construction & Mining Technique USA.

“This is a result of engineers writing much tighter specifications into plans,” he adds. “The new grout plant from Atlas Copco-the Unigrout Smart A-ensures these tight specs because of the mixing and pumping system used, while also keeping records from multiple holes at once. This record keeping is a great feature for the contractor who needs to verify mix specs.

“Also, in this geotechnical field we are seeing extensive work on bridges and dams,” Slater points out. “Those projects that took place in the 1930s need evaluation and it takes specific core drilling projects to do this. The new drills and tooling from Atlas Copco’s exploration division are made for this type of work, such as the Diamec U6 drill rig and Terracore bits and tooling system.”

Large-hole excavation is a big issue for foundation work, points out Gene Mattila, business line manager, rock drilling tools for Atlas Copco Construction & Mining Technique USA.

In the company’s rock-drilling tools division, “We are seeing growth in the cluster drill market because they work faster than traditional drill-and-blast or coring methods,” says Mattila, who adds that the company also is seeing growth in large-diameter down-the-hole (DTH) air hammers and casing advancement systems.

“Some of the largest contractors in the country are moving to this type of foundation product to increase productivity, reduce project risk, and improve overall quality of the drill holes,” he adds.

David Midkiff, chief executive officer of Vehicle & Equipment Washers Inc. (VEWI), notes that runoff is one of the most significant challenges grading and excavation contractors face with the majority of land-disturbing activities where there is denuded ground and vehicles going in and out of the site, carrying debris offsite.

Such sediment and erosion control issues exist against the backdrop of increasingly stringent federal guidelines.

“The effluents that are being discharged into the stormwater, the Clean Water Act, Save the Bay programs create all kinds of environmental concerns, one of them being the cost of cleanup from the runoff,” says Midkiff.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he adds. “If you can control and contain debris on site, then you don’t have the cost of cleanup.”

A job site may have a few hundred trucks entering and leaving sites, with cleanup efforts required every day.

VEWI offers wheel-wash equipment that is placed at the exit of a site where land is being disturbed and cleans up each vehicle as it drives through and activates an automatic control system, triggering the wash cycle.

One of the company’s most popular systems is the TW2000 series. It gives end users the flexibility of an exit change, he says.

The company’s self-flushing, closed-loop design cleans vehicles with high-pressure and high-volume wash capabilities and the evacuation and containment of solid and semi-solid debris.

Debris washed off of the vehicles, tires and undercarriage is flushed out of the system and into an 8,000-gallon filtration tank, which filters and recirculates the water back into the system.

“We don’t have to use potable water,” Midkiff points out. “We can use pond water.”

The self-flushing feature eliminates the need for sediment traps, concrete footers, or other site work to prepare for operation.

Midkiff says the units do not have concrete footers. Rather, they incorporate structural supports and solid steel decking.

“They set up, they’re durable, and they’re constructed so they can handle the load of a 20,000-pound axle load, which includes dump trucks, tractor trailers, pickup trucks, and vehicles of that nature,” he says.

“When they’re done with that job site or that exit change or anything that happens on the site, they can pick up the unit and take it to the next job site to offset the additional costs.”

The system features customizable spray patterns, choice of flow rates, and options for electric or diesel-driven pumps. Optional features include overspray control panels, ramps, auto-fill, additional or modified filtration, and a heater for freeze protection.

Mike Whitney, national sales director for Neptune Automated Wheel Wash & Disinfecting Systems, agrees that regulations with respect to good housekeeping measures on the job are getting more stringent.

“One of those is preventing track-out from the job site on to the public highways and streets and also protecting storm drains so they’re not flushing any materials down the storm drains,” he says.

Neptune Automated Wheel Wash & Disinfecting Systems manufactures several different models of track-out control devices. The wheel wash systems are available as aboveground portable units and in-ground systems.

The systems are commonly used at job site exit points to clean debris off of truck tires as they leave the site. The water is recycled through a closed-loop system.

“I have two units going to rent to Granite Construction on a large fuel farm project in northern California,” says Whitney. “The owner of the project called for two aboveground portable wheel wash systems to be placed in there. It’s one of those instances where they have to wash the tires of the vehicles leaving the site or they won’t allow them to work.”

One of the most popular systems-and relatively new to the Neptune fleet-is the compact unit, used at job sites where compliance is critical, but space is limited.

“It’s fairly inexpensive, and it’s a self-cleaning, self-sufficient system,” says Whitney.

The moderate duty systems include a unit that will wash one complete tire revolution of a truck tire as it drives forward.

“It takes about 12 feet to wash one complete revolution,” Whitney says. “We make a two-tire and three-tire revolution wash system. Depending on the soil on a particular job site, we match up our customers with what we feel is the best to do the job for them along with the soil conditions and the number of trucks per day that are on site.”

That could include the Maximus Portable Wheel Wash System. The system’s components include a wash platform, a water recycling and solids separation tank with an automated scraper conveyor and a tank without an automated scraper conveyor, the water collection chamber and a set of ramps.

MobyDick’s ConLine (Construction Line) series of wheel- and tire-washing systems were specifically designed for temporary installations in the construction, rental and industrial markets, says Bob Lodi, North American sales director for MobyDick Wheelwashing Systems.

“Engineered to maximize portability at an economic price, ConLine’s models incorporate MobyDick’s rugged hot dipped galvanized “˜Tire Flex’ platform, low-pressure/high-volume cleaning, efficient water recycling, scraper conveyor automatic solids removal technologies with “˜Set and Forget” reliability,” says Lodi.

From the ConLine’s core components of a 13-foot-long wash platform and 5,000-gallon recycling tank, a contractor can “field configure” six different systems to meet any wheel washing application, Lodi says.

“This design, unique to the industry, provides unmatched portability and scalability, and it allows contractors and industry to keep their operating costs low,” Lodi says.

MobyDick Wheel washing’s national rental partner is Rain For Rent, which in addition to offering wheel washing systems, also offers a portfolio of products, systems and services that are in demand on job sites, Lodi adds.

In the current economic climate, contractors face the challenge of meeting job-site requirements while keeping productivity up and cost down, notes Benjamin Taylor, vice president of Wheelwash Cleaning Solutions.

One of the goals of the Wheelwash system is to keep traffic moving off site as fast and as clean as possible, Taylor notes.

“Whether it is a low-traffic construction site, a manufacturing facility, or a high-traffic landfill, we have models to fit each need,” he says.

In a recent system installation, a contractor on a highway expansion project in Maryland had been facing fines and jobsite restrictions unless the track-out was controlled and drastically reduced.

Wheelwash placed six units at the job site-four Rhino Compact and two Rhino Multi wash units to control the site exits.

“With hundreds of vehicles per day and a fast-approaching completion date, downtime was not an option,” says Taylor. Initially, the contractor had attempted to use employees with power washers to clean the vehicles, along with road brooms to sweep the trackout from the roadways.

“This proved ineffective, and the costs of labor and operating the road broom continued to climb, along with material still being tracked out onto the roadway,” Taylor notes.

The automated Wheelwash units operated year round and “drastically reduced the cleaning time per vehicle, along with reducing the track-out onto the roadways,” he adds.

Trackout Control’s Grizzly Trackout Device helps grading and excavation contractors comply with track-out requirements, says Jeffrey Lange, managing partner for Trackout Control.

The Grizzly Trackout Device is used to minimize trackout of dust, dirt, debris, or rock onto the roadway from the wheels and chassis of vehicles driving from unpaved roads onto paved roadways.

“Trackout of erosion onto the roadway introduces dirt and debris into the stormwater sewer system and dust into the atmosphere when vehicles drive over it,” says Lange. “This is clearly an erosion and health issue.”

The Grizzly Trackout Control Device separates track-out material from the wheels, undercarriage and chassis of exiting vehicles into the freeboard space below the device.

“Simply prepare the ground by flattening the surface, or if installed permanently, saw cut the concrete or asphalt to the intended size of the Grizzly,” says Lange. “Utilize three Grizzly grates to create 24 feet of rumble grate. Just place the Grizzlys on the ground, abutted tightly together and create a ramp onto the Grizzly with 1.5-inch crushed rock.

“Twenty-five feet of crushed rock ramping up to the Grizzly is effective,” he adds. “A larger gravel pad leading up to the Grizzly will add to the overall effect. Make sure to place gravel between the Grizzly and the paved roadway to keep the wheel and chassis clean onto the roadway. The Grizzly does need to be anchored down or secured together. The weight of the steel keeps the Grizzly from moving around when driven over.”

Lange says the device works best in dry conditions but is also effective in wet conditions and can be set up to the desired length. The freeboard space below the device isolates the dust and rock from the vehicle tracking and collects the material in the freeboard space below the device. Any exit locations or gates that have traffic exiting the property from unpaved roads onto paved roads can use a Grizzly to minimize trackout.

The Grizzly will pay for its capital cost in road cleanup savings “very quickly,” says Lange.

No water, power or sophisticated systems are required for the Grizzly to be effective, he says.

“A study performed by San Joaquin Valley County in California determined the Grizzly removed 80% of the dust, dirt, debris, and rock from vehicles,” Lange says. “The Grizzly is an effective, patented system to minimize erosion, trackout, and promote good housekeeping.”

Lange says gravel pads compress and require continual refreshing. When refreshed, they only remove about 45% of the material off a vehicle.

“The Grizzly can be installed to require very little to no maintenance, depending on the volume of traffic leaving the property,” he says. “The device requires very limited cleaning or maintenance. The amount of dust, dirt, or debris accumulating under the device will vary depending on the amount of traffic leaving the property.”

The device should be inspected monthly to ensure there is remaining freeboard space below the device to collect material, Lange says.

“When set up and operated effectively, the system provides a worry-free trackout control system requiring no maintenance, refreshing, or sweeping,” he says.

Other essentials on the job include portable generators and commercial pressure washers. Generac Power Systems makes both.

For the many challenges on the job site, Generac Power Systems has a solution, says Cathy Olig, the company’s channel marketing manager.

The company’s XP Series Portable Generators feature idle control to conserve fuel with extended run times to meet the challenge of the rising cost of fuel, she says. The generators’ full-panel Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protection meets safety and OSHA requirements.

“The Generac OHVI engine is the only engine designed specifically for generator use, featuring full-pressure lubrication for a long and trouble-free life, lasting up to three to four times longer than many competitive engines,” Olig says.

She adds that the generator features impact-resistant metal corners and oversize full-wrap frame tubing for extra job-site protection, as well as integrated lifting eye, allowing for easy transportation and secure storage.

The company’s commercial pressure washers address uneven terrain challenges with a “perfectly balanced engine and pump for effortless maneuverability,” says Olig. The pressure washer features a horizontal-shaft Generac OHV engine that keeps pump and hoses well above the ground to avoid snags, making it easier to gather the hoses when moving the unit during operation, she adds.

The engine is designed for rigorous operation and features a professional-grade spray gun with an adjustable auxiliary spray handle, easy-to-pull trigger, and thicker cushion grip to reduce fatigue and increase comfort, Olig adds.

A lack of high-quality, code-compliant temporary power and lighting are the two biggest challenges on the job site, notes Phil Bearden, the senior product manager and marketing manager for the Ericson Manufacturing Co.

“Even with just “˜moving dirt around,’ such as excavation, you will eventually have to put the grade back and set it in place,” he points out. “The use of vibrating tampers, bores, and other rough-in electrical tools need power, and there are rules and codes as to how that power is distributed and connected.”

Code compliance is being emphasized more now than ever, says Bearden.

“The National Electric Code (NEC) has new sections written just for temporary power being used properly,” he says. “OSHA has invested thousands of hours retraining inspectors to these new rules. NEC Article 590 is entirely concerned with temporary power and lighting for job sites. Even if you use generators for power, you still have to distribute the power properly-the very plugs and connectors on cord sets have codes and rules for all-weather use.”

The essential issue of being able to work at night or under low light conditions in all types of weather also is monitored by codes, such as the type of lighting used and the lumens in the work area, Bearden says.

To address temporary power and lighting, Ericson manufactures code-compliant lighting and temporary power products for demanding, all-weather environments.

“Our SunTowers have been a big hit with contractors for wide area lighting,” says Bearden. “Our string lights help out when the structure goes up. And through it all, Ericson Temp Power Panels provide power safely around the entire job site.”

Safety-including traffic control-is a paramount concern on the job site, points out David Wilfong, vice president of the precision solar control brand of products for Work Area Protection.

Work Area Protection manufactures and supplies traffic control products for work sites, including cones, barrels and message boards.

Work Area Protection introduced the first solar message board and arrow board in the industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s, says Wilfong. It replaced the diesel engine that was used for message boards and arrow boards.

“It is a clean and efficient system, plus it tremendously reduces the maintenance requirements for that type of equipment,” he says.

Work Area Protection has rolled out a new product, Lane Changer traffic drums. The UV-stabilized, bright orange polyethylene drums feature a rounded ergonomic handle; multiple-base compatibility; recessed reflective band tiers; four 5-inch-wide anti-rotation claws to keep drums facing traffic; a built-in sheeting edge protector; a five-tier design for better visibility; a built-in, 10-inch-wide anti-roll bottom; double light mounts; a domed top; a ribbed bottom lip; and a two-piece top and base design.

While road safety in work zones is defined by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, each state has a different way of interpreting how a work zone is set up from a traffic control standpoint, says Wilfong.

“In manufacturing products for traffic control, we have to get our products approved in each state and then it is up to the contractor who gets the subcontracting job for traffic control to set it up according to that particular state’s requirements. Unfortunately, every state is a little bit different.”

And while some states do a thorough job on specifying the type of traffic control equipment that must be used, not all contractors follow the state requirements, and in some states, there isn’t enough enforcement, Wilfong points out.

“What happens is, a contractor-especially now when times are so tough-will have a job going and he will skimp on the traffic control, doing as little as possible,” Wilfong says.

“Let’s say you’re supposed to have a traffic cone every so many feet on the roadway. Traffic cones cost $12 or $15. They’ll spread it out maybe 6 feet further than it’s supposed to be. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’ve got 1,000 cones on a project, by doing it this way you’re only using 700. They’ve just saved quite a bit of money. That’s where the states come in-they do a very good job of specifying and proving products, but they fall short on actually policing what is out in the field.”