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Cat asphalt paver proves popular in projects across Europe

AP655D asphalt paver meets the needs of road construction contractors

The Caterpillar AP655D tracked paver is proving to be a suitable machine for contractors involved in projects across Europe, from Portugal, France and Spain to Germany and Norway. The possibility to equip the machine with a choice of conventional steel tracks, or the flexible rubber Mobil-trac System (MTS), offers customers a paver with manoeuvrability, high traction capabilities, rapid travel speeds and good flotation.

The machine provides three steering modes: one for paving, one for travel and a manoeuvring mode that permits the tracks to counter rotate, allowing the paver to turn within its own footprint. This Caterpillar-designed system permits operators to rapidly reposition the machine when moving to a new start point. It also allows the machine to access restricted job sites, including narrow mountain roads.

Portuguese contractor Jose de Sousa Barra opted to purchase the machine on steel tracks. The AP655D was put to work in the town of Vilamoura, repairing the Avenida Cupertino de Miranda, the main street in the busy town, which is in the heart of the Algarve.

The company had to complete 1.3km of paving work in a single day of operations. That meant laying 1,200 tonnes of asphalt, with the AP655D working alongside a Bitelli BB651C, within a single eight-hour shift. The access to the jobsite was restricted due to the importance of keeping the street open for traffic through the town. The operators were impressed with the power of the AP655D and its ride over the ground.

An AP655D was used by French contractor Braja on a narrow roadway in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Working on a 7.1km section between Villepredix and Leoux, where the elevation of the road rises from 450-750m, the machine was able to lay 250 tonnes of bituminous concrete mixture in just 45 minutes.

The next day the same machine was utilised to pave an 8km stretch of road from Verclaus to Lemps, again covering a change in altitude of more than 200m.

Braja’s road crews said that the AP655D, fitted with the MTS rubber track system, handled the jobs in one third of the time that it would have taken with a conventional steel track paver. The operators also claimed that the Mobil-trac system provided additional stability and security on the mountainous roads.

On the Braja contracts, the rubber track system was not only suitable for the actual paving work, it also provided a solution to support transport difficulties as well. Due to the sharp mountainous turns and confined space available, it was not possible to transport the machine to the job site on a truck. However, with the mobility provided by the MTS track design, the machine was able to make swift progress up the mountain roads without damage to existing paving.

In western Spain, contractor Oviga has had similar experience with the AP655D. On its first contract for the company, the paver was used to repair a worn-out stretch of village road near Palais de Rei. Cat dealers Finanzauto, with help from Cat commissioning engineer, Davide Dalla, commissioned the machine on the site, allowing Oviga to get straight to work with the new AP655D. Thanks to the machine’s intuitive operations and the start-up training held by Dalla, Oviga crew quickly became proficient in the paver’s operation. With no prior experience with the paver, they completed the project to specification, on time and with complete satisfaction.

In Germany, road construction firm Steffes-Mies, a subsidiary of KH Gaul from Sprendlingen, have also put their first AP655D to good use. The company saw the machine at the Bauma exhibition in Munich, and were immediately impressed with the build quality and specifications of the paver, resulting in an order for the Cat machine.

In Norway, the arrival of the first AP655D has been the cause of much interest among road building companies. Traditionally, Norwegian contractors have opted for wheeled machines due to the greater mobility of the rubber-tyred models. However, the rubber tracks of the MTS-equipped AP655D have made Velde Aggregates keen to try this new technology.

Velde’s AP655D was put to work first on a site close to Stavanger, laying 1km of roadway with widths of 4m to 8m. Norwegian Cat dealers, PON Norway, were on hand to ensure that the work progressed smoothly.

Velde reported that the machine has a good transport speed, as high as a wheeled paver at 16km/h. The company were also impressed by the low noise output, both from the rubber tracks and from the engine that was running at just 1,280rev/min. A secondary benefit of this lower operating speed was low fuel consumption. The machine’s superior stability was also noted, resulting in a smooth finished surface.


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