At The Utility Expo 2021, Felco unveiled an ingenious excavator attachment that gives contractors the ability to compact trenches in three different ways.
The aptly named 3-in-1 Vibratory Compaction Roller combines a low-profile tamp compaction drum with vibratory compaction functionality and a vibratory plate.
With these components you can use the attachment for static wheel compaction, vibratory wheel compaction, and vibratory plate compaction. As such, this excavator attachment is aimed at being an alternative to a trench compactor.
“Trench compactors have their place. They work very well and are prolific in the industry, but there’s never been an alternative to them, which was the genesis of this product,” said Aaron Ketchum, President and head of research and development at Felco. “You probably have an excavator on the jobsite and you can use this on the excavator rather than having to have a second piece of equipment.”
“We feel this product can be an alternative to that trench roller product at a more cost-effective position and a more reliable long term, lower maintenance cost option.”
The attachment uses a low-profile tamp design as opposed to the four-inch tamps you’d see on a traditional wheel compactor. Felco implemented this tamp design to limit disruption to the top layer of soil because it’s intended more for use in a finish grade on the compaction.
“Our standard wheel compactors…they work very, very well, but they do kind of chew up that top layer of soil where you’re compacting,” Ketchum explained. This product gets used in more of a finish situation where you want to have a finish grade on your compaction and allows you to have enough bite in the soil to roll, while not putting too much of an indentation in the top while you’re rolling along.“
Beyond the flexibility of three types of compaction in one tool, Ketchum said the design of the 3-in-1’s compaction plate in particular makes an operator in utility applications more versatile.
“We were watching the operators use it in the field for our prototype testing and they were running up against utility lines that were coming up vertically out of the soil,” Ketchum recalled. “What they would do is they would tilt the attachment up to the plate compactor and they would compact right up next to that utility line coming up with the plate compactor, and they could get in a very tight area with a much lower risk than you would with a standard rolling operation.”
Beyond saving you the extra cost of buying a trench compactor, because the attachment is completely driven by the hydraulics of the excavator, this attachment could provide major fuel savings as well.
And because it’s a Felco product, durability and long-life are at the core of this attachment’s design. Key to this attachment’s durability are the circular travel limiters on either side of the attachment. While a major benefit of the attachment is that it returns feel and a higher degree of control to the operator when compacting the trench, the downside is that operators could apply too much pressure through the attachment and overstretch or tear the isolated pads.
The limiter is designed specifically to mitigate that pain point.
“[The limiters allow] you to go just under half the diameter of the isolator pads, which is what the manufactures recommend,” Ketchum said. “So you can push that down, the pads will stretch, but you won’t stretch them too far and prematurely wear those isolator pads. And those are $250 a piece or more—so if you tear those up you’re talking bout $1,000 to repair them, plus downtime on your equipment.”
Another big benefit is that are no daily maintenance points on the attachment. With Felco’s sealed internal bearing axle—backed by a five-year warranty—you only need to change the oil once each year. The isolator pads will require changing once they wear out, but those could last some customers as long as two years between replacements.
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