Roads are the backbone of our modern infrastructure. We use them daily to get to work, pick up the groceries, take the kids to dance class, or even just to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon cruising down the highway. Roads are vital to our way of life, but we don’t often take the time to think about how they actually get built. Think about it; roads are everywhere! Getting the road system that we have takes some serious heavy-duty machinery and skilled operators to use them. If you’ve ever wondered what types of machinery are used in road construction, we go over the list below.
Before any asphalt is laid down, the area where the road will be constructed has to be prepped. You can’t build a road on any old untouched stretch of land, there is too much debris, and the ground is probably uneven. That’s why we use excavators.
Primarily, excavators are used for the excavation of rocks, soil, clay, and other materials in road construction sites. Still, they can also be used for various other purposes like breaking asphalt, clearing trees, and loading debris onto dump trucks. These machines are controlled by an operator who sits at the controls in a cabin with the ability to rotate 360 degrees for maximum versatility. Attached to the cabin is an arm with a steel bucket on its end. That bucket is the part that gets down and dirty, breaking asphalt and doing the heavy lifting.
Excavators come in various sizes depending on the job’s specifications and can also be either on wheels or tacks.
After the excavation of the worksite, the ground’s surface needs to be levelled before any asphalt gets laid down. Generally considered one of the most important machines for road construction, graders level the soil and remove dirt or snow to ensure the surface is flat enough to construct the road on top. These machines have two axles in the back and one in the front to make sure the machine is stable during operation. The actual levelling is done by a blade that is located between the front and rear axles.
Similar to excavators, bucket loaders are machines with an arm that has a steel bucket attached to the end. Also used for lifting and moving materials around a worksite, they are a common sight where roads are being built. They are usually mounted on wheels which makes them highly mobile and well suited for filling holes and trenches that get dug up during construction.
Asphalt Mixing Plant
This one doesn’t seem like your typical on-site machinery at first glance, but it makes sense once you get into the details. Asphalt mixing plants are where asphalt concrete is made by mixing sand, minerals, asphalt, aggregates, fillers and binders. Now, if you think that doesn’t sound like a machine that isn’t used on a road construction site, you’d be both right and wrong. There are three kinds of asphalt mixing plants:
Stationary plants are basically just factories fixed in one location and used for more centralized urban projects and higher quality mixing. Semi-stationary plants are mostly used in road construction. They get loaded onto trailers to be transported to the worksite and get reassembled on arrival. Mobile plants are mounted on a chassis, and their accompanying parts are on wheels. These versions are mostly used for jobs in more rural areas.
An asphalt paver is the machinery used to lay down the asphalt. They are equipped with a feeding bucket that is constantly loaded with the asphalt as the asphalt is then continuously laid on the ground. These machines are super useful for ensuring the asphalt is distributed evenly on the road.
After the road is laid by the paver, it’s the compactors’ time to shine. Simple yet effective, compactors, also known as rollers, are used to compact and flatten the newly laid asphalt to increase the smoothness and sturdiness of the road. There are many types of compactors, but for the most part they are equipped with a steel drum that can be filled with water or sand to maximize their weight, resulting in more effective compaction.
The amount of work and thought that goes into building the roads that keeps our society running is astounding. From the heavy machinery to the people who operate them, it’s important for us to understand the effort that we take for granted everyday. To learn more about road construction you can visit the website of an excavation company like www.economypaving.ca to read about the services they provide and how they do it.