by Shane Kroeker
April 27, 2012

The benefits of combining articulated dump trucks with scrapers for your earthmoving needs

To move dirt, many contractors have benefitted from using Articulated Dump Trucks (ADTs) as power units to pull earthmoving scrapers. This productive equipment pairing provides a return on investment, leading to increased profitability in this competitive construction market.

The Right Combination

To select a productive pair of equipment, several factors should be considered. Start by selecting an ADT make and model. This decision may be simple if you already own a fleet of ADTs or have a preferred equipment brand.  

If you want the most efficient and viable ADT power unit, be sure the horsepower can efficiently handle the size of the scraper that will be pulled. A 450-horsepower ADT will enable you to haul the largest loaded scrapers. To move loads efficiently, avoid ADTs that have a horsepower lower than 400. Other considerations may include the smoothness of the ride and fuel efficiency. 

Once you choose an ADT, you must the select the scraper model. First, determine the required unit size. In today’s market, the scraper models that hook up to ADTs vary in size from 25 to 54 cubic yards in heaped load capacity. To determine the correct scraper size, figure out the total cubic yards involved in the project and the timeline needed to complete the project. 

Construction-grade scrapers have been designed, built and tested with heavy construction market applications in mind. Since the construction industry relies on machine uptime, look for a manufacturer who provides a durable machine with high-tensile steel and a solid multi-year warranty program. Also, be sure the scraper has good flotation to enable working in muddy soil conditions for increased productivity. Once you have a make and model in mind, contact the scraper manufacturer to see if the ADT will be compatible with the scraper.

Return on Investment

Investing in a traditional scraper can be financially straining. On average, an ADT/scraper package can save a contractor considerable amounts when compared to the purchase price of a new traditional scraper. The ADT/scraper pairing gives contractors a much more fuel-efficient solution. And traditional scraper units typically weigh more, which causes problems in wet jobsite conditions. 

These benefits have led progressive construction company owners to move dirt this way. A contractor in Kansas eliminated six traditional scrapers from their fleet by replacing them with three pairs of ADT/scrapers. Another contractor in Wyoming claims that the efficient duos can outperform a traditional scraper by two times if the correct combination has been chosen.

The other alternative earthmoving setup usually includes one excavator, two ADTs and one dozer. This collection of equipment will move dirt but will not generate a healthy profit. Consider the large upfront investment for these four units. With an operator for each unit, they will require more labor, and the four machines have four engines, which simultaneously skyrocket fuel expenses. 

This setup requires an intense maintenance schedule as well because the operation would be crippled if any of the machines experience downtime. Also, the four-unit earthmoving setup can be a hassle to move between construction jobsites and result in high transportation costs. 

With an ADT/scraper combination, contractors can get the job done more efficiently with less machinery. Not only will the upfront investment be less, but the variable costs of labor, fuel and maintenance will also be significantly less. 

Flexibility

By using an ADT as the scraper’s power unit, it can self-load while maintaining a high speed on a haul road, which gives you flexibility. Using the scraper as a low and large target for top-loading material with an excavator can be another creative way to use the scraper to move dirt. Contractors can also use their existing ADT, convert it to pull a scraper by removing the box and still have the versatility to switch it back to a hauling rock truck for future jobs. 

Using the correct piece of machinery for the job will be key—for instance, rock trucks excel at hauling rock, while scrapers work best when moving dirt. Scraper units also retain a high resale value  in the classified and auction market. All of these factors will immediately enhance your fleet’s versatility.

Construction Applications

Many types of construction projects have experienced the advantages of pairing these two pieces equipment—such as airport runway expansions, road building and retention ponds.

With an efficient equipment setup, you can be more aggressive in bidding for jobs. Contractors who pair this equipment not only can win more jobs, but they can also maintain or even increase their profits due to the cost-savings. To stay ahead of the curve and reap the financial benefits, consider adding a profitable pairing to your fleet of construction equipment. 

Construction Business Owner, May 2012

 

Earthmoving Equipment Checklist

Use this list to identify the most efficient scrapers for your needs based on application specifics:

  1. Total yards of material required to move for the job ________
  2. Time frame required to complete the job _________
  3. Jobsite size (narrow application, open space) ________
  4. Soil type/ground conditions ___________
  5. Average haul distance _________
  6. Support equipment currently available in fleet _________