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Compaction: How to choose and use the right equipment

Confused about what compactor to hire? Read our guide to choosing the right compaction equipment

 

Compaction equipment, like drum and pneumatic rollers, rammers and vibrating plate compactors, can make light work of any compaction project. Whether you’re looking for plate compactor hire options or to buy compaction equipment, it’s important to choose the right equipment for your job and know how to use it safely and effectively.

 

What is compaction equipment used for?

Commonly found on construction sites, compaction equipment is used to compact and level the ground when performing a variety of earth-moving, construction and landscaping activities. Compaction equipment works by compressing the surface to increase its density and load-bearing capacity. This process also reduces the likelihood of settlement and soil erosion.

Some common uses for compaction equipment include:

  • Construction: Creating solid foundations for houses, buildings, earth retention systems, roads, railways, port terminals and other infrastructure

  • Landscaping: Preparing the ground for new hardscapes, like patios, pavers or concrete pathways, retaining walls, outdoor kitchens and driveways

  • Plumbing and electrical: Securely burying pipes to prevent cracking, and surrounding electrical cables with high-density soil to create low thermal resistance

  • Backfilling: Returning and securing soil to trenches and other excavation sites

 
Different types of compactors

Rollers, rammers and plate compactors are the three main types of compaction equipment.

Rollers are heavy, ride-on compactors that move smooth or padfoot weighted drums over surfaces like soil, gravel and asphalt to compress and level them. Plate compactors and rammers are a smaller and lighter type of compaction equipment that use hydraulic force to compress soils through a heavy steel plate. Coates has a wide range of specialist rollers, rammers and plate compactors available for hire, including:

 
 
Roller vs compactor: which should you hire?

To choose the right type of compaction equipment, it helps to understand the environment that you’ll be working in. You must also consider the type of soil or surface that you’ll be working on, and the strength and density you need to achieve through compaction. For example, dual-carriageway roads require a much stronger soil foundation than domestic driveways or retaining walls. 

The size of your work area

Rammers and reversible vibrating plate compactors do a great job of compacting small areas like driveways, footpaths and backyards. Smooth drum and padfoot rollers are best for levelling and compacting larger areas such as roads, industrial yards, airfields and car parks. Specialist trench compactors, meanwhile, can help you to compact tight spaces and other restricted access environments.

Soil conditions and density requirements

Different ground conditions require different styles of compaction, as well as different types of compaction equipment, to achieve the required density.

-        Plate compactors use vibration to squeeze out air pockets, compacting the soil as it settles. This technique achieves high soil density and high load-bearing strength and is most effective on granular or non-cohesive soils with low clay content. 

-        By applying strong direct compaction across a smaller steel plate, rammers are better suited to compacting small areas of soil with a high clay content (cohesive soil). Rammers also work well in trenches and can easily be manoeuvred in other tight spaces.

-        Ride-on smooth drum rollers (single and double drum) are very efficient at compacting road bases like asphalt, cement stabilised bases, subgrades and subbases across large areas to create strong foundations for roads and other major building, civil and infrastructure projects. Rollers can vibrate or remain static.

-        Padfoot rollers (also called paddies or sheep’s foot rollers) offer light to medium compaction for cohesive, semi-cohesive and granular materials soils, including clay and silt. They work well on embankments and can be used to break up and compact soil before road construction.    

 
How to be safe with a compactor

Safety is paramount when operating any heavy equipment. These tips will help you to work safely and efficiently with compaction equipment.

·        Excessive vibration, noise and dust are all hazards that PPE can easily mitigate. Before you fire up compaction equipment, remember to put on safety glasses; ear protectors; anti-vibration gloves; a dust mask; and suitable footwear. Spraying surfaces with water or a wetting agent before compaction can further reduce the environmental impact and personal health hazard caused by dust.

·        Even small compactors can be extremely heavy. When moving compaction equipment, always apply safe lifting practices to prevent injury.

·        Before using compaction equipment, remember to familiarise yourself with the key components on the machine that you’re using.

If you regularly operate compaction equipment, it’s vital that you take safety seriously to avoid long-term exposure to these and other hazards.

 

5 more things to know before hiring a compressor
 
1. Do you need a license to operate a compactor? 

In all Australian states and territories, operators will need a minimum C-class (car) licence and must be able to demonstrate the required competency to operate a ride-on roller. Additional licensing and certification requirements for rollers and compactors varies between states, territories and industry sectors, so consult your local or industry regulatory body for more information before hiring and operating this type of equipment.

2. Choosing the right size compactor 

The requirements of each job will determine the type and size of compaction equipment that you need. Coates has the equipment to support projects of all types from DIY to large-scale projects, ranging from small rammers and plate compactors to 24-tonne rollers. Connect with a product specialist today to find the right equipment for your next project.

3. How to transport a compactor

Rammers are relatively lightweight, but compactors can weigh upwards of 300kg. Follow these tips for safe and easy transport of compactors to and from job sites.

-        Always use safe lifting practices
-        Ensure the fuel shutoff valve is closed during transit
-        Allow the engine to cool completely before securing equipment to your trailer, ute or vehicle.

For ease of hire, Coates can arrange delivery and pick up of all compacting equipment.

4. How much does it cost to hire a compactor?

Coates offers competitive rates, with daily, weekly and long-term hire options available. Contact your local Coates branch for roller or compactor hire rates today.

5. Where to hire a compactor?

Quality compaction equipment is available from Coates Australia-wide. Our broad range of specialist equipment delivers great depth, efficiency, durability and safety from start to finish.

 

 

To access equipment hire, for advice on all things compaction or to arrange a quote, contact Coates today

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