First publishedin World Highways
Power Curbers has seen increasing demand for machines that are machine control ready, although the package has to be installed at the factory
Power Curbers has seen strong sales of its machines during 2018, with demand expected to continue through 2019 – Mike Woof writes
Power Curbers has seen strong sales for its slipformers during 2018, with customers keen to replace ageing equip-ment. Sales of the 5700-C have been very healthy.
One of the key changes in the market that Power Curbers has observed is with the growing interest in machine control solutions amongst its customers.
Power Curbers said that there has been a massive change in customer demand for machine control systems in the last 12 months. Typically, just 10-15% of the firm’s production run from the North Carolina plant has been for equipment that is machine control-ready. However, in 2018 a substantial change was noted with machine control-ready machines accounting for around 50% of orders.
While many of these units will initially be used along with conventional stringlines, Daniel Milam, marketing coordinator at the firm said the companies are clearly making themselves ready to utilise stringless technology for slipforming in the near future. This is a significant change as it highlights how many slipforming contractors are now preparing to switch to using stringless operations. Milam commented, “The change began last year, even with smaller contractors.”
He explained that with the slipforming duties often carried out by subcontractors, being able to operate equipment without a stringline is now a more common requirement from main contractors. He said, “They want that accuracy.” And he added that the ability to work stringless is probably more common for barrier work, which is typically carried out on larger highway operations.
According to Milam, the small contractors that specialise in slipforming are now aware of the benefits from machine control technology and are also prepared to invest in these systems. The fact that business levels are good has given them the cashflow to buy new equipment and technology.
One of the firm’s customers in Virginia had three slipformers using conventional stringline technology. However Milam said, “He was seeing the industry was changing so he sold all his machines.” Milam added that the contractor then bought new units and equipped them with technology from Leica Geosystems.
The firm can also fit Trimble machine control technology to its products and shipped its first slipformer with this system in September 2018. This development came following work between Trimble and Power Curbers. Milam said, “We’ve been working with Trimble for some time.”
The firm has been supplying machines with machine control packages from Leica Geosystems and Topcon for some time. And according to Power Curbers, around 60% of its machine control-ready machines have been equipped with technology from Leica Geosystems while the remaining 40% feature Topcon equipment. But with the firm now offering the Trimble technology as well, Power Curbers said that it will be watching closely to see how demand for this option develops.
Power Curbers has had to change production methods at its factory in North Carolina so as to increase output due to strong demand
Milam commented that some customers with Trimble systems on other machines in their fleets have been waiting for this development. In the meantime, they have continued using conventional stringline for slipforming work.
Demand for new equipment is healthy and Milam said, “Things have been really good and we’ve been selling machines all over the world.”
He commented that the export market for new machines has been particularly in Central America and Asia. “India’s been very busy,” he said.
The strong market for highway construction in India has been helpful to the firm, which has supplied one of its larger four track units into the country. And with India committing to building some of its roads from concrete, there is a potential for more sales in the future.
Meanwhile, the company also supplied a machine to a customer in Thailand. This has been used for some of the first concrete slipform paving work in the country, paving a road in two passes and using an offset for the shoulder.
The firm’s dealer for South East Asia is keen to encourage the use of concrete in road construction and the positive results from the machine working in Thailand in terms of productivity and finish quality will help. The project is not without its challenges and Milam said that the conditions are difficult.
As a result, he said that the contractor is taking care to ensure the roadway will last. He said, “It’s a really thick road and it’s got lots of reinforcement in it.”
With emissions requirements changing, the 5700-C is also benefiting from the installation of a new Tier 4 Final diesel. However, there will not be changes to the height and width of the machine and its slipforming characteristics will remain the same.
In addition, production changes are being seen at the plant. Until now, the 5700 models and 7700 models have been built on separate production lines but manufacturing of these is now being integrated into the one line.
Different parts of the machines are being completed as sub-assemblies, but having the two models on the one line is allowing
Power Curbers to ramp up production from its factory.