Roading feature: CAT AP300

CAT AP300 With an expandable screed, a wide range of jobs are possible with the Cat AP300, from a footpath to a three-metre wide run along a road CAT AP300
CAT AP300 On Queens Drive, Invercargill CAT AP300
CAT AP300 The operating station allows remote control of the screed position, and forward and reverse of the asphalt feed CAT AP300

Southroads utilises the Cat AP300 asphalt paver for a variety of projects, and site works manager Kirk Given has found it to be both productive and reliable.

Southroads is a Southland-based construction company specialising in roading and civil engineering, and is a part of the HW Richardson Group. Southroads boasts one of the most modern and reliable construction fleets in New Zealand, an important part of which is the Cat AP300 asphalt paver.

Kirk Given says there are a variety of features setting the AP300 apart from its competitors, and it excels in a wide range of applications where maximum flexibility is required, ranging from new construction to resurfacing and maintenance works.

"The AP300 has an expandable telescope screed, allowing us to complete a range of jobs from a 1.7m wide footpath up to a three-metre wide run along a road or through a car park," Given says. When mechanical extensions are added to both sides of the AS3173 screed, maximum paving width is four metres.

"The AP300 is like having two machines. When compared to the previous paver, the Cat machine can achieve a far greater amount of work across a broader scale."

An electric heating system for the AS3173 screed is provided for by a tractor-mounted generator and replaceable heating elements. Given says that with the electric system the controls remain user-friendly for the operator and the working environment cleaner.

"With the electrically-heated screed there is no need to have LPG bottles filled, which saves time and money, and while the machine is louder than our previous paver, there is less heat for operators to contend with around the screed area making the working environment more comfortable with the correct PPE."

The AS3173 is also equipped with screed assist, an electro-hydraulic device maintaining a constant screed pressure on the bituminous mix, independent from the mix bearing capacity and the paving width.

"The operating station has some helpful new features, such as a canopy, remote control of the screed position from the driver's seat, and forward and reverse operation of the feed."

The AP300 has an ergonomic dual operator station incorporating a sliding control console and two adjustable suspension seats fitted on mechanically sliding platforms to enhance visibility and comfort. The engine is mounted forward and low in frame, giving the operator an excellent view into the hopper, while being positioned away from engine heat and exhaust.

Given says the easy manoeuvrability of the AP300 around the job site is an important factor in maintaining high productivity levels.

"Moving around large sites is easy and quick with the ability to change transmission to high box, and a rabbit/ turtle option. The hydraulics system is quick and responsive, too."

Shifting the AP300 between projects is made easier for Southroads by the machine fitting on a transport trailer along with a roller.

"While the company is based in Invercargill, our business requires us to travel as far as Te Anau, Queenstown, Balclutha and even up to Oamaru, so the fact we can get the paver, asphalt and a roller there in one trip is of great benefit to us."

A recent project contracted to Southroads by Invercargill City Council was the rehabilitation of Queens Drive (pictured), a main arterial road to and from the city centre. Given admits that, relative to the roadworks being completed in the major centres of Christchurch and Auckland, the asphalt tonnage for the Queens Drive project is fairly minor, but productivity levels are high nonetheless.

"For an 800-metre stretch of Queens Drive, we require 2000 tonnes of asphalt in total, but we look at the day-to-day production and the AP300 is processing 300-odd tonne each day, which is an impressive standard of work."

Parts availability for paving machines can prove difficult for competitive units, and Given talks of the benefits of the nationwide branch network and readily available parts inventory offered by Gough Cat.

"It is vital to avoid downtime, and in our previous experience we had all sorts of hassle sourcing parts for the pavers, but this Cat machine is different, and the support offered by the team at Goughs [Invercargill branch] makes the process so much easier. We're always up and running again in no time."

The Cat AP300 has a reliable working history for Southroads to date and, according to Given, it continues to meet demanding job requirements.

"It has certainly increased the productivity on site and also given Southroads more business opportunity when it comes to winning some of the bigger projects."

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