The Making of Intelligent Compactors

NBM&CW gets a market outlook from company heads of Wirtgen, L&T, Volvo CE, JCB, Dynapac, and Escorts.
With competition set to heat up in the compactor market, a customer’s choice of brand is likely to be determined by the innovative features, design, and technologies like telematics being offered by the OEM – features that increase fuel efficiency, enable ease of use, minimize maintenance, and improve ergonomics in the operator cabin.

The higher initial cost of new machines that come fitted with the CE IV emission engine, falling rental rates, rising fuel costs, and higher cost for services rendered are reasons why demand for compactors has been subdued this year. Customers are cautious while considering a new purchase so much so that many would-be buyers are preferring using their existing machines for as long as possible.

However, manufacturers, hopeful of a revival in demand from the fourth quarter, are marketing their products more aggressively, and are integrating their compactors with newer technologies to enable higher productivity so that users can enjoy lower operating costs. They are offering soil compactors for more efficient compaction of different soils and aggregates in the construction of highways, large residential, commercial, and industrial sites, etc, and which can be applied on rough terrains as well.

Contractors are also looking for machines that are more fuel-efficient and require minimal maintenance due to their advanced technology as intelligent compaction technology allows the operator to optimize compaction. Oscillation technology for instance, eliminates vertical vibrations and offers high compaction performance, smart vibratory system, and an in-built Compaction Meter are some of the features that are raising the brand value of manufacturers offering such features. Global players present in India are therefore investing in R&D to design products that are more suited to the Indian jobsite conditions.

Deepak Shetty, CEO & Managing Director - JCB India
Deepak Shetty, CEO & Managing Director - JCB India

“Every JCB compactor has unique features and a robust structure, and whether it is a single drum soil compactor or a vibratory mini tandem road roller, all JCB compactors offer high efficiency and productivity.”

In 2021, JCB introduced the new VM 117 single drum soil compactor, powered by a 74 hp JCB ecoMax 444 engine, without needing engine after-treatment. It is about 10% more fuel-efficient as compared to the previous model, enables high productivity, reliability, and operator comfort, making it a preferred choice for compaction needs. It has an operating weight of 11,400 kg, engine power of 74 hp, and a drum width of 2100 mm. It is backed by JCB’s premier line solutions, a lifetime lubricated central joint, higher centrifugal force of 256KN and telematics

JCB compactor

We believe that JCB117 is leading the compaction industry in output with one of the best compaction performances per pass. In addition, the machine is equipped with ‘LiveLink’ and ‘IntelliCompaction’ – a Compaction Monitoring System. This assists in optimising the number of passes and enables monitoring of performance with real-time compaction information. It measures relative compaction density which is continuously displayed to the operator on a colour LCD screen so that the operator can avoid both excessive and lower-than-required compaction levels with predetermined set values as reference. This saves time and resources by avoiding repeated compaction.

Model VMT330 is a small 3-ton category mini Tandem Roller that has been exclusively designed to meet the road construction needs of our customers. It can undertake various jobs, depending upon the volume of compaction required. It has a drum size of 1250 mm, maximum engine power of 33 hp, and an operating weight of 3,300 kg. It is ideal as an entry-level road construction machine and best suited in the making of highway road shoulders, retaining walls of flyovers, footpaths, trenches, rural roads, service roads, and industrial and residential columns. It has a fuel-efficient engine, a unique drum offset, free vibration system, and articulation joint.

Our compactors, designed for various applications, have optimised front and rear weight distribution, amplitude and frequency combinations, high centrifugal forces with a new balanced suspension system to ensure the highest energy transfer - be it soil or asphalt application. The well-proven design of the vibratory system with a single-piece eccentric shaft and overturning weights, delivers excellent compaction performance in all kinds of applications. This also results in improved manoeuvrability as the vibratory drum remains stable on compacted levels as well as on gradients. Higher energy transfer ensures that a minimum number of passes are required to achieve the required compaction.

Our JCB IntelliCompaction relays real-time data of compaction value and vibratory frequency live in the cabin. A warning light comes on during jump operation and lets the operator know about hard and soft spots, surface conditions, and gives over-compaction alerts. Intelligent compaction measurement eliminates guesswork and takes productivity to a whole new level by giving the operator better control, saving time and fuel, and optimizing the number of passes.

Machine optimization, availability, and real time productivity information is available 24x7 through LiveLink such that customers get a daily / weekly performance report and data analytics. Remote monitoring, fleet management, preventive maintenance, service schedule, operations and security of equipment are also made possible. This technology is helping over 2,10,000 JCB machines communicate in real-time on their location, operations, performance, downtime, service alerts, and security. It enables better site management and equipment utilisation, thereby improving operational efficiency and cost-saving. Features such as geofencing and time-fencing have significantly enhanced the security of our machines.

To ensure after-sales support at all times and in all the places where JCB machines are deployed, JCB has put in place a wide distribution network of over 60+ dealers and has over 700 outlets across India. It is imperative to have a well-connected support system to minimize machine downtime and thereby maximize productivity. Our dealers employ about 8,000 professionally trained personnel to provide the required product support to our customers. The company has warehouses for spare parts located each in Pune, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Guwahati, and the country’s largest 160,000 sq.ft. warehouse at Bhaproda near New Delhi.

JCB compactors are manufactured at the company’s facility in Pune and are marketed for both domestic use and export to the USA and European countries.
Vishwesh Rai, General Manager - Dynapac India
Vishwesh Rai, General Manager - Dynapac India

“The best compaction parameters guarantee an optimal output, so a machine that can determine soil characteristics and then automatically interact with them, will make a world of difference in compaction results. Let the machine feel the soil and cooperate with it.”

With our wide range of highly productive compactors ranging from 3-ton rollers to 15-ton CEV-IV rollers, we are well positioned to cater to the needs of all kinds of projects, including greenfield projects. Our compactors come with our patented advanced technology, are energy efficient, and offer options like compaction meter, dyn@link, padshell etc to optimize passes – all of which enable our customers to get quality results with fuel efficiency and lower operating costs.

Dynapac - compactors ranging from 3-ton rollers to 15-ton CEV-IV rollers

The operator cabin in our compactor is spacious, has a comfortable seat, ergonomically designed steps, handrail, anti-skid pads, and a hood. We also offer ROPS as an option for jobs that demand better and safer working conditions for the operators. Other features include an informative and a user-friendly control panel with night illuminated keys, and a digital LED color display with cool white backlight for night vision. A safety switch alerts the operator if the machine is in running condition while he is not on his seat.

We were the first to offer an optimized design of eccentric system for rollers to give better fuel efficiency, maximum performance, and minimum environmental impact. Almost 11 kW less power is required to initiate the vibratory action, reducing energy consumption at start-up by 50% and thus using less fuel. Our compactors are also equipped with an intelligent compaction system. We also provide a Compaction Meter which reduces the inspection period of checking density and eliminates chances of double bouncing and over compaction. The Compaction Meter can also be used as initial proof if the compacted area is homogeneous and there is no organic material in the lower layers.

Dynapac compactors also come with best-in-class static linear load that plays a significant role in achieving the desired density and stiffness earlier, with a lesser number of passes, and thereby also saving time and fuel. In our soil compactors, the system of eccentric elements has been optimized by moving the weight to the right side of the axle, so that less weight counteracts the movement at start-up and helps save fuel.

To reduce the risk of over compaction, the company’s compactors feature Dynapac Seismic. While the conventional vibratory compactors deliver a rapid succession of impacts to the soil surface at a frequency that is pre-set at a high or low amplitude, or at a frequency that is adjusted manually, our Dynapac Seismic does it differently. Since the drum and the soil act as one dynamic system, several benefits can be found from the system’s natural frequency. At the natural frequency, the drum amplitude is enhanced since energy is automatically fed to the system at exactly the right time. This, in turn, maximizes the contact force between the drum and the ground, yielding maximized compaction and energy efficiency.

For optimized performance by evaluating material stiffness and enabling fewer passes, Dynapac CompBase software bases the selection of machine and method on the material to be compacted. The software provides information on the expected depth effect and degree of compaction after a given number of passes. The compactor is accordingly designed with a higher static linear load and optimized engine power to reduce fuel consumption and achieve the desired density in fewer passes.

Dynapac Seismic technology automatically detects the frequency of the soil characteristics, works together with it, and applies the correct amount of energy exactly when required. Dynapac Seismic will reduce fuel consumption, eliminate any unnecessary wear and tear, and even reduce the number of passes required to reach the optimum compaction.

To ensure uniform and consistent compaction, Dynapac compactors are designed with an optimized drum design as per the operating mass and specifications. The predefined drum design parameters help avoid drum bouncing as well as too heavy drum frame for best compaction results. So, our various soil compactors come with different drum shell thickness and diameters.”

A single point articulation joint enables better turning radius and a heavy-duty hitch optimizes traction. To achieve higher gradeability, we have introduced high climb machines with heavier components in the rear axle, and a drive motor with fail-safe brakes allows the drum to stay in better contact with the ground.

Since the initial cost of the new generation compactors is higher, we take care in ensuring that our customers derive the highest productivity and performance from Dynapac machines. To provide them with the best solution, we examine the project requirements and the material to be compacted, the layer thickness, and the speed with which the machine should be operated for optimum results. We have the application know-how to guide customers on the best compactors for their projects through our CompBase software package. Our endeavor is to ensure that our customers get the highest quality along with cost efficiency.
Dimitrov Krishnan, Managing Director - Volvo CE India
Dimitrov Krishnan, Managing Director - Volvo CE India

We are keen to target the higher segment of the market with our 13 to 20-ton soil compactors where we see a lot of potential, especially in road and irrigation projects that require deeper soil compaction.

We have a variety of offerings in our compactor segment, led by SD110C soil compactor, DD90C tandem/ asphalt compactor, DD100C tandem/ asphalt compactor, and PTR 220 pneumatic tyre roller. We have launched these machines with Volvo Eicher engines that adhere to the new emission norms and are fuel efficient too.

Volvo Compactors

Our Compact Assist system powered by Volvo Co-Pilot gives operators access to a selection of tools that help boost the efficiency and profitability of our Soil and Asphalt Compactors. This industry-leading real-time density mapping technology (with a 10-inch touchscreen monitor) eliminates guesswork and delivers precise performance for unbeatable productivity.

Compact Assist displays a number of passes and Compaction Meter Value (CMV), showing operators the exact number of passes across the entire work area and whether those areas have reached sufficient compaction. This real-time guidance enables operators to easily spot gaps in coverage so that they do not spend time on unnecessary passes once the soil has been compacted.

In our Asphalt Compactor, there is also a temperature mapping feature that ensures that compaction is completed at the optimum pavement temperature. A color-coded map of surface temperatures and the ability to set the maximum/minimum range enables the operator to avoid rolling with a temperature that is too hot or too cold.

In our Soil Compactor, a compaction gauge monitors and displays compaction values, frequency, and amplitude. An acceleration sensor is mounted on the drum frame to monitor drum movement and give feedback to the CompGauge. The operator monitors the CompGauge display, which gives an analysis on the compaction and thereby prevents over-compaction and also allows the operator to be more productive by decreasing the number of passes needed.

Volvo CE will continue to support its customers through its 20 dealers with a network across 200 locations.
Gaurav Panwar, Product Head - Wirtgen India - Hamm and Voegele
Gaurav Panwar, Product Head - Wirtgen India - Hamm and Voegele

Hamm compactors are designed as per the high-quality standards, reliability, and capability to perform in all the given conditions and deliver high productivity, and with their modular design, they can be used in all kinds of projects.

Our compactors offer the highest safety and operator comfort as they are designed keeping in mind the best possible front and rear visibility while working or traveling. Their slim hood design offers wide and open rear visibility. In the night, high lumen halogen/LED lights enable high visibility. Operator safety and comfort is enhanced with a wide protective roof, hand-rails, vibration-isolated operator platform with rubber buffers, comfortable suspension, backrest adjustable seat, and anti-slip profile platform. The roof, which is included as standard, protects the driver from the sun and rain.

Wirtgen Compactors

In India, Hamm is offering its HC series of soil compactors in the 11-ton and 13-ton category, with or without a drum drive, and optional pad foot attachment, and tandem rollers HD 99i and HD 109i. The HD 99i weighs nearly 9 tons, while the HD 109i weighs approx. 10 tons. With a drum width of 2.14m and 1.68 m in soil and tandem, respectively, they can be used in inner-city projects, for compaction on motorways, airports, and other large areas.

The Oscillation system developed by Hamm is a recent advancement. It enables the compactors to achieve compaction results that are scientifically proven to be more homogeneous and of higher quality. In an oscillation drum, two eccentric shafts are fitted at a 180° angle to each other. Both unbalanced masses rotate synchronously, which causes the drum to perform a rapidly alternating forwards-backwards rotational movement. This results in the compaction energy being transmitted forwards and backwards tangentially into the ground below in the form of shear forces. The drum is therefore in constant contact with the ground, which means that permanent static compaction also takes place because of the weight of the machine, as well as compaction caused by the shear forces. The result is faster and more significant compaction.

Hamm also offers a variety of compaction monitoring digital tools - starting from basic compaction to full blown systems with longitude and latitude data. Using these digital tools, customer can monitor the compaction in real time and can take corrective measures - also in real time. This ensures a uniform and desired compaction result.

Hamm offers two amplitudes (High and Low) and two frequencies (High and Low) to derive the right compaction force. This range of amplitude and frequency ensures optimum compaction results in almost all operating environments in India. Hamm’s new technical advancements in compaction equipment like the HCQ Navigator, HAMMTRONIC, and VO (Vibrations-Oscillation) machines, offer continuous compaction control, energy compensation for machine to work at set parameters and to avoid less and over compaction of surfaces.

For adjusting the frequency and amplitude as per the compaction measurements, and for eliminating drum bouncing and risk of over compaction, Hamm offers oscillation drum, compaction measurement tools in real time like HCM (Hamm Compaction Meter) and HCQ (Hamm Compaction Quality). This is available for earthworks and asphalt for determining stiffness values. The Hamm Temperature Meter (available for asphalt) measures the asphalt temperature in the articulated tandem compactor.

For minimizing passes and adjustment of amplitude and frequency, optimization of all the machine parameters is done through the electronic machine management system “Hammtronic” that monitors and controls all key machine functions. The advantages offered by Hammtronic include automatic adjustment of the diesel engine speed to meet the power requirements of the individual drives (driving, vibration). It controls start-up and braking and distributes the drive torque across the drum axle and/or rear wheels in accordance with real-time operating data (e.g. incline, driving speed, direction). Hammtronic also controls the hydrostatic vibration drive and the various steering programmes (for DV+ series only), guaranteeing even, smooth movement of both drums.

The Hamm Compaction Meter measures and displays the corresponding values for the stiffness of the subsoil via the acceleration sensor on the vibrating drum. Using the Hamm Compaction Meter (HCM), drum acceleration can be determined when vibration is switched on. This raw data reflects the reaction of the soil to the vibrations triggered by the roller, and the HCM Compaction Calculator continuously calculates the Hamm Measurement Value (HMV) of material stiffness from this. By preventing over-compaction, extra passes are reduced, leading to fuel saving.

Working on a range of construction sites in the earthworks and asphalt sectors requires rollers to have optimum driving and steering characteristics. To meet this need, Hamm has installed three-point articulation - a more sophisticated upgrade from conventional articulated joints in all soil compactors and tandem rollers in the HD CompactLine, HD and HD+ series, as standard.

Three-point articulation is different from conventional joints due to its geometric arrangement and connection of the three individual joints and one additional connecting link between the two conventional upper joints. The three-point articulation in the Hamm compactors guarantees even weight distribution, offers outstanding directional stability, impressive stability when negotiating curves, and a high level of safety against overturning. The benefits of the 3-point articulation can be seen every day in many situations on construction sites. The articulated joint guarantees unrivalled driving comfort because it absorbs shocks very effectively. In addition, any tendency of tipping in curves is greatly reduced – an important safety factor.

The company provides adequate product support for their products to ensure high availability with optimized operational costs. In accordance with this, from time to time, cost-effective offers are rolled out along with long-term maintenance and health checkup benefits, supported by a strong network of Wirtgen service teams, and financially assisted by banks and NBFCs. A dedicated product team with application expertise along with a fully trained sales team work closely with customers to select the right machine for the right application.

Hamm compactors are also price competitive compared to other players in the market as their modularity allows their price to be varied by adjusting the features offered or as desired by the different segments of customers.
Devinder Sharma, National Portfolio Manager- Road Construction - Escorts
Devinder Sharma, National Portfolio Manager- Road Construction - Escorts

“We will be introducing a 9 Ton Tandem compactor HD85Plus with added features to meet upcoming demand tandem compactors for use in road projects. High Kerb clearance, give advantage to compact extreme edge along culverts, Fuel efficient High Compaction force& High gradability.”

ECEL’s range of compactors comprises the EC 5250, 10-ton soil compactor; EC5511, 11-ton soil compactor; HD 85 C, 9-ton tandem-double drum roller; and EC 3664, 3-ton tandem mini roller. Our versatile range of compactors can undertake all types of applications.

Escorts Compactors

Demand for compactors is likely to remain subdued this quarter but could rise marginally after the monsoons when road projects gather pace. Purchase of new machines has also slowed due to their higher price on the backdrop of new emission norms. The slowdown in the market has made business highly competitive. However, we plan to expand our product portfolio and take more initiatives to retain our current 8% market share, and even grow it. We will push sales of our compactors in the hiring segment and to the main contractors with the help of our dealers. In fact, we plan to increase the number of dealers from 60 to 70 by the end of this year.
Jaikumar D. Kamath, JGM & Head - Road Machinery Business - L&T
Jaikumar D. Kamath, JGM & Head - Road Machinery Business - L&T

“Competitive pricing, prompt presales support, and timely delivery have made L&T the preferred supplier of compactors to most contractors.”

L&T compactor range comprises L&T 1190 Soil Compactor – CEV-IV, L&T 990HF i Tandem Compactor – CEV-IV, L&T 2490 HD Pneumatic Tyred Roller – CEV-IV, and L&T 491 Mini Tandem Compactor. The compactors have been designed to give ease of operation and are fitted with anti-vibration pads that prevent drum vibrations from reaching the operator cabin. Plus, all the controls are within the operator’s reach and all refill points can be reached from the ground. In the cabin of L&T Tandem Compactor ‘L&T 990 HF-I,’ the operator seat can be rotated for a better view and both the drum surfaces are visible from the seat.

L&T compactor range

Our technologically strong compactors can do homogenous compaction. Compaction by inducing vibrations to realign particles is the most preferred compaction method. The moisture content, the layer thickness and the weight of the roller all play a part in achieving the desired compaction results.

L&T compactors have dual amplitude; the amplitude change is achieved by changing the direction of rotation of the eccentric shaft. The compaction forces generated are optimized to ensure the best results. L&T has designed the vibration system in-house and it has proved to be very reliable at work sites.

An intelligent compaction system (offered as an option in L&T compactors) enables the operator to get an alert once the desired compaction is achieved, thus avoiding over compaction. The system also optimizes the compaction meter, which keeps a check on the compaction achieved by measuring the rebounce on the drum, and gives inputs to the operator on the degree of compression. The operator saves fuel when he stops compacting a bed that has already achieved the desired level of compaction.

It has been seen that a very high drum module weight in the total weight of a compactor makes it difficult for the machine to climb gradients. Having noted this, L&T has optimized the weight ratio in its compactors so that they can continue to be productive in all kinds of terrains. The articulation system has also been designed in-house to achieve the desired result using hydraulic cylinders. The entire drum surface is in contact with the ground throughout the compacting.

L&T compactors are designed and manufactured in India with substantial indigenous content. This has enabled us to keep costs under control despite a falling rupee and steep input cost increase over the past few months due to rising steel and diesel prices. We now have many customers with a fleet of 20 compactors or more and there are 3000 machines already working for varied applications. We are seeing rising demand from contractors who are showing faith in L&T products by placing repeat orders.

Our product development team helps customers select the right machine as per the site requirements, and also with better fleet utilization so that they can enhance their productivity. Recommendations are made keeping in mind that the dense bituminous macadam (DBM) and the AC (asphalt concrete) follow BIS standards so that compaction results are predictable. We also ensure timely maintenance and parts support so that our customers’ machines experience minimum downtimes.

Since embankment compaction varies due to the different soil conditions, it becomes necessary to prepare test beds at the site to arrive at the desired compaction results. Once the number of passes needed is proven on the test bed, it is easy to replicate the results at the site. So, all L&T compactors undergo extensive field trials and the compaction results are verified with samples tested in the laboratory during their validation stage.
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