Review: Bomag BF600P paver

By: Editor, Photography by: Editor

Laying hot mix correctly requires a good eye, the right people and quality equipment. The Ed recently found out how a newly-delivered Bomag BF600P paver was working out for one of The Isaac Construction Company Ltd’s paving crews.

Even if you have never visited Christchurch, chances are you would have heard of Isaac Construction. A company with roots dating back to 1946, this large business operates on many different levels. Referring to it as an 'institution' in the Canterbury region would probably not be far wrong.

One division of the business is paving and Isaacs operates five such crews on many differing types of jobs. The crew I had the good fortune to visit is overseen by foreman Kyle Leka. They had recently taken delivery of a new Bomag BF600P paving machine and were using it to lay a new tennis court at a private residence in the suburb of Papanui.

"A typical tennis court job will usually take half a day," says Leka. Even though this job is classed as relatively small, with around 30 tonnes of hotmix, it is being delivered in 25mm 'lifts' (as they call it), by the paving machine, which makes for a 'bit of work' on this technically challenging job. Leka says the thickest mix they have put down on a job is 150mm, and with the machine capable of laying up to 300mm deep there is still a lot more range for the BF600P to handle.

Accuracy is key to achieving the perfect bounce for a Slazenger tennis ball and when working for owners of a private tennis court, it could be fair to say the 'boss would hear about any imperfections' should the finish not meet the customer's expectations.

Before the job can even start though, there is the matter of getting the machine onto the site. Prior to removal from the transporter, there is the straightforward task of hydraulically raising the canopy and flipping the exhaust pipe into position. Quickly completed, the machine is ready for action.

Now I often speak about 'shoehorning' equipment onto site, and this was definitely one of those cases. Operator Nigel Chamberlain shows considerable talent in getting the machine down a tight private right-of-way (made all the more difficult by an impatient oncoming van driver), and through a narrow gateway with just millimetres to spare. The question of the BF600P's manoeuvrability was answered without a word and I stood back to watch the professionals in action.

Like all jobs, it takes a little while to get everything set up. The paver heats up to temperature pretty quickly and thanks to my reference material, I see that this time it is predicted to be around 20 – 30 minutes, although it seems faster to me.

The width of the screed can be adjusted from 2.5 – 5.0 metres. In this case it has been adjusted so the job will be completed with three parallel strips, with a final exit strip placed at 90 degrees to the others.

Once everything is in place, it's go time and the first 10-tonne load of hot mix is tipped into the hopper. The bin is capable of holding up to 12.4 tonnes of mix, so around two tonnes of mix can remain in the hopper and still leave enough room to be topped up with another complete 10-tonne load.

Bomag has its headquarters in Germany and is distributed in New Zealand by Porter Equipment. The BF600P paver is a move into different brand territory for Isaac Construction and understandably it is being closely watched by all parties concerned.

As we all know, machines can be tested in many different environments before being released for public sale, but the most critical testers are the crews that have to work with the machine every day. Even though the BF600P has been with the crew for just a short time, both Leka and Chamberlain have already identified advantages over their previous paving machines.

"The sensors that check how much mix has come out" is one feature Chamberlain likes. Checking over the specs later on, I see the machine has a mechanical sensor as standard. It controls the scraper belt and ensures controlled material flow. Also fitted are two ultrasound sensors on the auger and two channel plates in the auger tunnel, both of which promote even material distribution and prevents build-up in front of the board.

Even though, this setup comes as standard with the BF600P, there are many different specifications available to prospective purchasers.

Another positive feature put forward, is the quality of the asphalt mat the BF600P delivers. "The mat that comes out of it is wicked," says Leka. "With our other machines, there is always that quarter point mark." He is referring to the line commonly seen through the centre of laid asphalt and which comes about from the front and rear screeds not being set exactly correct. "This machine definitely lays the best mat we've seen."

As the guys say, the finished product is all that everyone ever sees, so it is the first thing that someone will point out — 'Oh, there's a line in it.' It seems they are thankful this comment will now be a thing of the past.

Watching the finished product flow from the paving machine, I can see what they mean and thanks to my trusty reference material (yet again), I note the BF600P provides up to 93% of the compaction required for a completed finish.

"For my boss, a good day is not hearing from me," says Leka. With the Bomag BF600P paving machine providing the high quality finishes that Isaac Construction has built its reputation on, the boss may find himself left in peace.

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