Tools of the Trade

By June 21, 2018 No Comments

Road construction utilizes some of the world’s heaviest and most impressive equipment. It’s common to encounter motor graders, dump trucks and backhoes along the open road. The raw power of these machines is impressive. This article looks at three of the industries most impressive machines: the asphalt compactor, the soil compactor, and the motor grader.

Asphalt compactors are some of the most important tools in road construction. These massive machines, according to Volvo, “knead” the asphalt, mixing the raw materials that create the surfaces we drive on. Construction crews also utilize soil compactors; soil compactors compress the earth. Firmly compacted soil keeps the foundation of the highway from sliding.

Compactors use vibration to apply intense pressure to the Earth’s crust, for example, Volvo’s ABGPTR240 weighs over 26 tons. That’s four times as much as the average African elephant! The compactor’s power derives from a vibratory drum. According to, vibratory force increases the drum’s potency up to six times. A massive unevenly weighted drum applies pressure to soil or asphalt and squeezes air pockets from the substratum. The pressure applied is beyond comprehension.

Compactors, whether they’re used to compress asphalt or soil, are the most powerful of road construction machinery. The aforementioned compactor packs an impressive 114 pounds of horsepower. One foot-pound of horsepower equals 33,000 pounds of work per minute, according to The Encyclopedia Britannica. To further explain, one foot-pound of horsepower exerts the energy needed to lift 33,000 pounds one foot per minute. At 114 foot-pounds of horsepower, Volvo’s ABGPTR240 compactor can complete 3762000 pounds of work per minute! These machines are truly impressive!

Motor graders, although typically tractor yellow, are modern pieces of ingenuity, they’re maneuvered via a joystick! According to, motor graders are used in road construction to create a level surface, they spread soil between the foundation and the pavement. These are powerful machines, for example, the Caterpillar 120MAWD possesses an impressive 138 foot-pounds of horsepower.

It takes heavy equipment to get work done. Next time you’re cruising down the open road, don’t become frustrated with orange signs, take a moment to wonder at the amazing machines road construction crews utilize to get the job done.

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