Moving Materials Around the Job Site

July 20, 2015

The factors that go into making an appropriate selection from among the choices depend on job site needs and regulations.

Clement Industries offers a wide variety of steel and aluminum dump trailers for different operations, designed to be lightweight and durable. “On the steel side, we make everything from bottom dumps to end dumps to side dumps, both with high tensile steel and also with AR450 high-abrasion resistance steel,” says Greg Leong, president. “On the aluminum side, we have the extruded side panel aluminum models and also the sheet and post aluminum trailers on the end dump trailers.”

Certain trailers lend themselves to specific materials. For instance, for large particle sizes and more abrasive loads, contractors look for trailers with thicker steel, says Paul Pickett, Clement Industries’ sales and marketing coordinator.

“We build up to 5/16ths wear plate trailers, which will take a 2-ton boulder dropped on it with no damage. Aluminum trailers are more appropriate for sand and gravel applications,” he adds.

Among the changes that Clement Industries is making to its trailers is a redesign of the top rails.

“The top rails were being destroyed by grapples and we’ve changed that to limit the damage to the top rails,” notes Pickett.

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The company’s most recently-launched model is the PaveStar, designed for asphalt and light aggregate. Its body is constructed of a thinner-gauge AR material. It is designed for the right suspension heights to where it “matches completely” with other machines a contractor would be using, says Leong.

The MonStar is made of quarter-inch AR450 and is designed for demolition and scrap hauling. It is 45 feet long and holds 99 cubic yards.

“It’s called a MonStar for a reason,” says Leong. “It’s a massive trailer. At that demolition site where a grapple hook is grabbing big demolition material and dropping it in there, this trailer can handle that.

“Likewise, we make a rock trailer which is a shorter-sided half-round trailer with a quarter-inch 450 material to handle up to big boulders that can be carried in it. For contractors who are wanting to haul rock, but not quite as extreme as big boulders, we make a 3/16th version of that AR material half-round.”

The company’s bottom dumps are better suited to dirt handling, says Leong. Contractors like them because the material doesn’t go up in the air and the “inherent instability when it comes to doing that,” says Leong.

“With the bottom dump trailer, the wheels are always on the ground and the material just drops out of a gate from the bottom,” he adds. “With the side dump trailers, all four wheels stay on the ground and you’re not going to the extreme heights—you’re tipping to the side. That’s crucial if you’re going down the side of a road and you want to dump on the side of a highway. You can actually dump that load while you’re still moving forward and dump along in a row with both gravel and dirt.”

The popularity for side dumps is growing, particularly in the western US, notes Pickett.

“A lot of folks like them for the stability—they feel they’re more stable than an end dump that raises way up in the air,” he says. “They don’t have the range of the capacity that end dumps have.”

Contractors do like the convenience of side dumps when working on highway jobs on the edge of the road to dump materials right where they want it, points out Pickett.

“It’s also made out of wear plate and will take large rocks with no problem,” he adds.

Belly dumps are used primarily in construction and can spread material so that it doesn’t take as much grading in contrast to an end dump, which produces a more of a centralized pile of material, notes Pickett.

Pup trailers complement dump trucks. “You can put a pin lock on your dump truck to pull a pup trailer and double your payload with a relatively small increase in fuel consumption,” says Pickett.

The top factor to consider in making a material hauling choice is how much material can be hauled legally and efficiently, says Leong.

“With a shortage of truck drivers, the high liability that goes along with running these trailers and trucks on the road, and the fuel costs that are associated with it—the more that you can haul legally, the better off you are,” he says, adding that was a driving factor in his company designing equipment that is light, yet durable.

Being able to move more material in each individual load—for instance, 5% more—means reducing fuel, driver, and insurance costs by that much, says Leong.

“Every time that trailer goes down the road, you need to make sure you’re maximizing your payload,” he adds.

Durability is another factor contractors should consider when making choices about material haulers.

“We just got contacted the other day about a need for a part for a 1960 model trailer that’s still in operation,” says Leong.

Material hauling trucks such as those manufactured by Bell Trucks America “offer the ability to haul material on job sites that have not prepared haul roads,” notes Wayne Michels, vice president and general manager.

“When they first get there, the ground has never had anything done to it, so they start excavating. They want to haul this material from this side of the job to that side of the job, so they don’t have to build a road,” he says.

Bell Trucks are articulated, bending in the middle. They are six-wheel drive, enabling the trucks to navigate through ground that is rough, soft, sandy, or muddy, points out Michels. They are designed for fuel economies that offer a fuel consumption per hour that is 15–20% less than elsewhere in the market, says Michels.

The company offers five product models in the United States: 25-, 30-, 35-, 40-, and 50-ton models, the latter being the largest articulated dump truck on the market, says Michels.

“In some places, production is what’s important—how many cubic yards of material you can move in one day, one hour, or whatever the time frame is—and if you have a job that is long enough,” says Michels.

Articulated dump trucks are typically rented for the duration of the contract or the job. But if a contractor buys a truck for an application that calls for them to keep it for a long period of time, the bigger truck is more suited to the task, offering more production with fewer costs, says Michels.

The trucks can haul anything a contractor wants to put into it, says Michels.

“I’ve seen trucks haul anything including dirt, sand, rocks, and iron ore,” he says. “The reason to use an articulated truck is it will go anywhere compared to other kinds of dump trucks. You’ve seen dump trucks on the highway, but they won’t go two inches if you get them off of the road into the soft ground. Anything you can haul in a dump truck, you can haul in an articulated dump truck. The difference is they’re built to go anywhere.”

The main factor to consider in choosing what truck to use for a particular job starts with the amount of material that has to be moved, says Michels.

“You could have several million yards of dirt to move from one place to the other, whether it’s to fill up a hole or to dig a site for a landfill operation,” he says. “You have to then consider how long is the haul road. Once you do that, you have to incorporate the time it would take to load the truck with the excavator or digging machine, and that’s how you figure out how many trucks you can operate on the job.

“If the truck can be loaded in two minutes and it takes 10 minutes for it to haul the material, dump it, and come back to the excavator, the crew can load five more trucks while that one is gone. In that case, they end up with an operation that has six trucks running.”

Another alternative is to use a larger truck and make fewer trips, says Michels, adding, “That means fewer operators I need so it cuts my costs down in that fashion.”

Europeans have used Wacker Neuson’s dumpers for a long time to move material around on a job, and now they are catching on in the US market, notes Marcus Auerbach, director of compact equipment for Wacker Neuson Sales Americas.

“In many cases, the dumper is the first machine on the job and the last to go,” he points out. “The Europeans use the dumper for a wide variety of tasks for whatever they have to move on a job site—be it dirt, sand, trash—whatever it is that fills the bucket, they’re moving it around. Moving materials around on a job is a huge part of the construction process and dumpers are very effective doing just that.”

Wacker Neuson offers a dumper that is effective for short distance transfer tasks on a job, not between jobs, says Auerbach.

“Many job sites in the US are big enough that moving material from one side to the other is major task,” he says. “Most of them are commercial jobs and contractors always have to move stuff at least a couple of hundred yards on off-road terrain. This is what the dumpers are made for. They are four-wheel drive for excellent traction in muddy conditions and climbing up hills and fully hydrostatic—so no gears to shift—and consequently very easy to operate.”

The dumper’s construction is as such that it doesn’t get stuck in the mud, says Auerbach.

“We looked at the US market and noted that there is a lot of material transported on a US job site. Typically one of two machines is used: a skid-steer bucket or a full-size dump truck. With a skid-steer, you go back and forth a hundred of times with what is essentially a ‘teaspoon’ and lose quite a bit,” says Auerbach. “Every time you hit a bump, you spill a little bit out of the bucket.”

Large dump trucks are oftentimes too big to get access and better suited for on-road transportation, he says.

“The dumper can load more than a skid-steer can, is a lot more versatile and fits into more tiny spaces than a big dump truck would,” says Auerbach. “The Wacker Neuson machine is in-between those two extremes of a small machine and the very large dump truck.”

The machine is offered in a 1.5-ton, 3-ton, and 6-ton model, with a next-generation model of the latter offering improved emissions features. The 3-ton is the most popular model, adds Auerbach. While it is set up as a general purpose machine, some contractors use them to pour concrete for footings, concrete walkways or large concrete flat work jobs at warehouses or shopping malls, he adds.

One of the dumper’s advantages is a bucket that can swivel 180 degrees left to right.

“You can go next to the area you want to fill. You don’t have to make a 90-degree turn with the machine,” says Auerbach. “Turn the bucket to the side and fill to the side. That’s a feature that comes in handy when you’re backfilling trenches. You dig up the trench for a utility line and you have to put some sand in on the bottom or backfill it with dirt. The dumpers are very nice for that because you just dump your side to the left or right.

“If you’re doing anything next to roads, it results in less interruption for the traffic because you don’t have to shut off two lanes of traffic. You only need to shut off of the traffic the width of the dumper that’s enough to go along the trench. If you use a larger machine like backhoe loader, you need more space and more cycles.”

In choosing the right piece of equipment for the job, the 3-ton dumper is chosen to work with 3- to 5-ton excavators, says Auerbach. Larger excavators call for the use of a 6-ton dumper.

Other factors to consider include accessibility, weight, and height restrictions.

Auerbach has found that many contractors who have used a skid-steer on a job site but not a dumper are surprised to find after they rent one that it helps them move more material and get the job done faster.

“You have less ground disturbance,” he says. “In a skid-steer, when you spin around, you rip up the grass. A dumper is a lot more surface-friendly because it’s got big tires so it cuts back on the restoration work where you have to go back in and fix it up afterwards.” Turf tires are also available as an option and are commonly used on landscape, parks, and golf courses.

Manac offers grading and excavation contractors several choices in its CPS product line.

“The bottom dump is used for moving large volumes of dirt, sand, gravel, or asphalt. This trailer is very efficient in operation,” notes Keith Limback, general sales manager for the company’s US operations. “Unlike an end dump truck, you can unload it while you are still traveling along. You don’t have to take the time to back it up, position it in place, and raise the hoist to dump the load, then lower the hoist and proceed, which requires the driver to get in and out of the truck a couple of times.

“These bottom dumps are very time-efficient and very good at spreading large quantities of material in a very efficient manner,” continues Limback. “Additionally, any truck may be used to pull a bottom dump. Gates are controlled pneumatically so there is no need for a hydraulic pump or fluid reservoir on the truck.”

Manac offers a standard and lightweight model.

Limback says that Half Round End Dumps are primarily used for hauling large rock or demolition materials, made possible through a heavy-duty rigid design. The tub is made of Hardox AR450, a damage-resistant high-wear steel.

The Light Weight End Dump is a construction materials trailer used for hauling sand and gravel.

“This design combines the benefit of light weight with the strength and durability of steel, as opposed to an aluminum tub,” says Limback.

SmithCo offers a large variety of axle configurations, tub styles, frame lengths, cubic capacity, and tonnage ratings. Among its offerings is the SX Series for the traditional side-dump aggregate customer, with the MHV and SHV Series being best suited for the agricultural and waste industries, notes Rick Lawrence, national sales manager.

The Mine Series trailers are built in 60- to 100-ton net payload capacity for quarries and mine work.

The company also offers two pulled trailers for the agricultural industry: the 20-ton rated Ag-Pup is built for the agricultural industry and the CP-30 is a 30-ton version for the aggregate customer.

The common aggregate trailer in a tandem axle unit is a SX2-4034. “This 40-foot trailer allows a gross weight of 80,000 pounds in all states,” notes Lawrence. “The common tri-axle is a SX3-4234, but in states that allow extended weights 44-feet to 49-feet tri-axles also are available.”

A side dump trailer offers a great deal of versatility, points out Nick Jensen, president of the Thurston Manufacturing Co.’s side dump trailers can haul anything from rip-rap to demolition materials . . . even trees, he adds.

“They’re fantastic for hauling dirt in to road construction projects where you have to dump over a barrier,” says Jensen.

Thurston has increased capacity in its side dump trailers through adding to its line the Super Cube Dump Body, offering 37-foot capacity in contrast to the company’s standard 34-foot dump body, which the company still offers.

The newer model increases the capacity to 26.1 yards “and that’s water-level—not heaped—full,” notes Jensen, adding that capacity can increase to 42 yards when a high side kit is placed on it.

The dump body has a “rounded V,” which allows for dumping of materials as a half-round or a smooth dump body would, but also offers extra capacity. The dump body sits within the frame rails, offering added capacity per linear foot of dump body.

That also offers a lower center of gravity while keeping the same low-loading height, adds Jensen.

“We’ve gone beyond the tri-axle on that 37-foot dump body as well in the last year and a half and come up with a quad-axle and a quint-axle on that 37-foot super cube dump body,” he says.

Factors to consider when choosing a material hauler include the length of the haul and the total versatility of the hauler, notes Jensen.

Jensen contends “there’s nothing better than a side dump in terms of versatility. If you haul certain things in an end dump, some materials get hung up on the end gate. If you haul them in a belly dump, they can get hung up underneath the trailer.”

Regarding the average distance of the load, Thurston’s Circle R side dump offers a cycle time of approximately 30 seconds.

“That’s dump and retract and when you’re trying to jockey an end dumper around for example, a lot of times it will be more than a minute by the time you stop and unload and retract and go again,” says Jensen, adding that side dumps “run circles around belly dumps or end dumps” on short hauls.

On longer hauls where capacity is more of a concern, contractors may want to consider whether a side dump would be the best choice or would something with higher cubes or higher capacity be a better choice, adds Jensen.

“You want to weigh that against what the state bridge laws are, how much you can actually haul, and how much does the material weigh that you’re putting in that dump body,” he points out. “An end dump body might have more capacity than a side dump but when you start looking at weight of material, you’re going to be hauling about the same amount.”

Therefore in terms of cycle times, it may make sense to use a side dump for longer hauls as long as a contractor knows the weight of the material and how much room it’s going to take, says Jensen.

Another consideration in material hauling choices is serviceability and reliability, he adds.

The company’s Circle R product has non-greasable hinge points, which offers time saved from not having to grease them once or twice daily, says Jensen.

“If you change them once a year or twice a year when you’re doing your yearly maintenance items, you can save a lot of time that way,” he adds.

The location where materials will be unloaded is another consideration in choosing a material hauler, says Jensen.

“Some places are not ideal for a side dump,” he says. “Maybe you’ve got a tighter area that you’ve got to dump into that an end dump would be better for. Maybe you’ve got to have the ability to switch sides, so a side dump would be better in that scenario.”

A recently-added feature to the Circle R enables the driver to safely switch the side of the trailer that he’s dumping on without getting out of the cab.

“It’s a time saver and a safety issue and it ties in with the tarp kit,” says Jensen. The company also added an automatic tarp lockout so if the tarp is covering the load, the trailer won’t dump.

“There have been guys who’ve dumped with the tarp on,” points out Jensen.

There are maintenance and replacement items to take into account when considering a trailer choice, particularly a side dump, says Jensen.

One of the biggest: fenders. “What are those fenders made out of? If the fenders are a cheap plastic fender, eventually you’re going to have a loader or a piece of material from that side dump hit that fender and plastic fenders tend to crack easily,” says Jensen.

Circle R features a metal fender with a rubber edge, which reduces the number of fenders a customer has to replace. When they are replaced, it’s done through a bolt-on system.

Side dump trailers are extremely versatile, concurs Kelly Rogers, CEO for Side Dump Industries.

“You can literally haul anything in a side dump trailer,” says Rogers.

Side Dump Industries manufactures a trailer with a 50-degree dump angle, which allows the driver to derive time and cost efficiencies by dumping over a K-Rail on highway and interstate projects, Rogers points out.

“Shutting down multiple lanes is no longer a requirement for these projects,” he adds. “A driver can pull up next to a K-Rail, start the dumping process, and keep right on driving.”

Another advantage: the side dump trailer is water-tight.

“You can haul any type of waste and not have to worry about spilling out a tailgate,” says Rogers. “That is a huge environmental advantage.”

Side Dump Industries has standard configurations such as tandem, tri-axle, quad-axle, train sets, and converter dollies. The standard side dump configurations are set up to maximize hauling capacities according to federal regulations. The company also works directly with state Department of Transportation (DOT) offices when a custom configuration is requested.

Sidump’r offers more than 20 different variations of its trailer from large quad trailers or trains—which are two trailers connected together—to the single-axle trailer. The company designed its trailers with a single cylinder that dumps to the tub in the middle of the trailer.

“Instead of having a cylinder on both ends of the tub, this cylinder in the middle is protected and has less of an angle once the tub is dumped,” notes Dana Ienn, Sidump’r sales director.

The one cylinder design is more advantageous in colder climates, says Ienn.

“You’ve got oil going to one cylinder, instead of actually separating and going to two separate cylinders and having them fight against each other,” he adds.

With no center divider, the Sidump’r allows for an even load and dumping capabilities in stationary or moving conditions, says Ienn. The dumpers are offered in 36- to 40-foot interior lengths.

Sidump’r offers a dump cycle time of 17 seconds for a trailer hooked up to a tractor running 1,800 or 1,900 psi with 40 gallons a minute.

Until this year, the company offered eight different trailers but has now expanded to more than 20 variations. The driving factor was to accommodate the different state regulations, notes Ienn.

“Each state has a different DOT regulation as in how many pounds can be carried per axle and it axle spacing also varies,” says Ienn. The variations enable contractors to maximize their loads depending on the state regulations.

Sidumpr’s trailer construction enables contractors to haul anything from aggregate to sand to demolition material, Ienn points out.

“If they’re tearing down buildings and have concrete and rebar, the side dump trailer is very effective because the material doesn’t get tied up into the tub when you’re dumping like you would on a typical dump truck or end dump,” he adds.

Sidump’r offers a 3/16th-inch tub in addition to its regular quarter-inch Hardox “Abrasion Resistant” AR450 to offer an alternative for hauling materials such as sand over longer distances, enabling the contractor to maximize load capacity.

“We’ve also added a rock guard on our standard, triple, and quad-axle trailers that goes in the rear of the trailer,” says Ienn. “It’s a steel piece that’s between the two side rail frames behind the tub and we call it a rock guard and that protects all of your air cans, air lines, and axles in case a rock falls off the tub in the back and that saves down time.”

Another new standard feature is a safety switch on all of the tarps that does not allow the operator to dump the trailer unless the tarp is completely recoiled back into its open state.

“If the contractor keeps the tarp closed and accidentally dumps, the trailer can tip because the material cannot come out,” says Ienn. “If it does go through the tarp, it’s a $3,000 tarp system that is ruined.”

Freightliner trucks can be configured with bodies to carry any material, notes Mary Aufdemberg, the company’s director of product marketing. “Freightliner severe duty truck models are designed for the toughest challenges,” she adds.

“The rugged and versatile 122SD is ideal for heavy, oversized loads. The flagship of the Freightliner severe duty line-up, the 122SD, is ideal for a variety of severe-duty options, including oil/gas field services, concrete mixing, specialty/heavy haul, crane, dump, and towing/recovery.”

The “durable, reinforced aluminum cab meets stringent impact tests, and the vocational chassis is available with single and double channel frame rails” on the 122SD, says Aufdemberg, adding that the model is available with manual and automated transmission options designed for heavy-duty applications, as well as powerful engine options with ratings up to 600 horsepower and 2,050 pounds per foot of torque.

Recently added new options for the 122SD for severe terrain and off-road applications include oil pan skid plates, 12-inch frame rails, threaded front suspension spring pins and bushing, and heavy-duty bolted cross-members. Front-bumper mud flaps and fog lights with rock guards are also now available.