The following article will be published in the Equipment Journal in October:
Excavators and skid-steers are ubiquitous throughout construction sites, so it only makes sense to use them to their fullest capacity. This is the main idea behind compaction attachments. After all, why buy a dedicated compacting machine if it is just going to sit on the side-lines most of the time? The attachments minimize the amount of additional equipment required on the job site, saving time and increasing the productivity of your heavy equipment.
Since the hydraulic compactor was invented by Allied Construction Products in 1965, compactors have evolved into highly versatile tools. As well as compacting excavated soil, some compactor attachments can drive piles, posts, and pipe, and break up hardened materials.
Compaction attachments are available to fit on any size carrier, from your smallest mini-excavator or skid-steer, to the largest excavators capable of managing compactors exerting forces of 40,000 pounds or more.
Compaction attachments may take the format of tamping plates, vibratory plates, vibratory rollers and static rollers. Within these formats, the compactor will use either a dynamic or static form of action. Dynamic compactors use hydraulic-powered vibration to remove air and shift soil into a more compact format, or impact force to physically push soil into place. Static compactors use downward force created by the carrier, and may also apply a “kneading” action by employing pads on the surface of the plate or roller, as in the case of sheepsfoot rollers.
If soil is more than 50% granular in composition, then dynamic vibratory compactors are ideal, since the soil moves freely under vibration. If however, the soil is less than 50% granular (higher in clay), then impact-style dynamic compactors, or static compactors work best, because the soil is pushed into a more compact shape. The space being worked on also determines the best compaction type. The less confined the space is, the less effective impact and static compaction becomes, since it tends to push the soil outwards. Where possible, use vibratory compaction in open areas, as long as you have suitable soil types and conditions.
There are other reasons besides cost savings to choose compaction attachments over dedicated equipment: ease of use and safety. Since the compaction attachment is added to the boom of an excavator, the compactor can be used in areas such as heavily sloped trenches or narrow ditches, without having to physically lower down a machine. This has the added benefit of keeping workers safe by not exposing them to the possibility of collapsing ditch sides.
With the advantages of cost savings, flexibility, ease of use and safety, compaction attachments make a great edition to most construction projects.