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Nowadays, construction involves several machines. While some are prominent, others are not. One of the types of equipment that belong to the latter group is the road roller. Road rollers are relatively unpopular than other construction machines. This is because they only come on board when it is time to prepare or finish foundations. That said, their importance cannot be underestimated – the success of most road construction and residential construction projects depend on road rollers.

In this post, we will discuss all there is to know about road rollers.

What is a Construction Roller?

Also called the steam roller, compaction roller, or road roller, the construction roller is a heavy wheel that helps to compact and level out a surface, for instance, asphalt, dirt, soil, terrain, or other kinds of base or foundation material. You will hardly find a steam-powered roller nowadays, but they used to exist.

Road rollers exist in different forms. We have the double-drum rollers and the single drum rollers, as well as vibrating and Padfoot rollers.

Compaction is crucial to foundations and constructions – here is why.

The compaction road roller helps to create a more stable and solid foundation for your construction projects. The process involves compacting the asphalt or soil particles tightly, to ensure they do not sink, crumble, or shift. The stability this process confers on the foundation extends to the building. In the case of road construction, it improves the road’s quality, durability, and stability across seasons.

What is the role of Rollers in Agriculture?

The first application of rollers was in Agriculture. The first traditional rollers found essential applications in farming, where they were used to break large masses of soil and dirt after clearing the land. Horses propel the solid circular roller. The massive weights of the roller even out the surface of the farmland.

Thanks to technological advancement, horses have been replaced by tractors and other machines. When the land is flat and smooth, it is easier to control weed and harvest when the fall comes.

The Dilemma of Rollers

You will expect something as useful as this to be easy to use. But the rollers do not exactly follow this logic. The best rollers are the heaviest ones. The heavier they are, the more compaction they deliver. Before now, the heavy rollers were underused because horses cannot push them around effectively.

Then steam engines came around, and weight became less of a problem. Rollers found more applications outside agriculture. They were used in road constructions. So, once there were more powerful vehicles to drive the rollers, they became heavier.

Currently, there are rollers as heavy as 1-20 tons. For comparison, 3 and a half elephants weigh 20 tons.

Single and Double Drum Construction Road Rollers – any difference?

What differentiates a single drum from a double drum construction is the number of rollers. As the name implies, there is one drum in single drum roller and two drums in double drum rollers. The presence or absence of an extra drum determines the type of jobs and terrain each drum can handle.

Single Drum Construction Rollers

The single large roller drum in this type of rollers are on the front, while the wheels are at the back. The wheels here are puncture-resistant, ensuring proper grip on smooth terrain. Excellent mobility and traction come from the wheel at the back. The single drum also makes them faster and smaller than the double drum models. Therefore, they are suited for construction involving tight spaces or small areas.

The single drum rollers come in handy for ground levelling and other prep work during construction. They are also used in residential and highway road paving and foundation construction.

Double Drum Construction Rollers

The double drum roller is a combination of two rollers and an operator cab. Traditional wheels are absent here. Thanks to the double drum setup, the roller can smoothen the surface in front and behind. Therefore, it is good for finishing projects. The double drum rollers offer increased compaction, thanks to the second drum.

The only downside of the double drum rollers is traction. The absence of rubber-tracked tires means there is almost no traction. So, they are not suitable for specialised work. Instead, they are better deployed in even or slightly gradual slopes.

That said, they are very powerful and deliver 2x the capacity of the single drum. This makes it ideal for laying asphalt for highways and other heavy-duty jobs.

Padfoot or Sheepsfoot Rollers

You would ordinarily think all drum rollers are smooth, but that is not entirely true. In Padfoot and Sheepsfoot rollers, different parts project out of the roller. This helps to create a zigzag pattern of compression points. This extra space offers additional force to push down and compact the surface – more than the smooth drum rollers can do. These rollers also keep the soil in place when under pressure, ensuring that the material is uniformly pushed down.

Typical applications of Padfoot rollers include a higher-level fortification and compacting fine-grain soil.

Vibration Compaction Rollers

As mentioned earlier, we see more technological advancements in the construction industry by the day. One of such advances is the vibrating rollers. While traditional rollers rely on their weight and force to push the particles of the terrain together, vibration rollers do more by shaking the particles together. This shaking makes the particles fit closer and more compact.

With this technology, the vibration roller delivers a more reliable and durable foundation.

Road Rollers are more important than we currently find them.

Yes, rollers are not as popular as other pieces of construction equipment, but the truth is they are quite important. It is almost impossible to have a stable and strong foundation without using rollers. Considering how crucial the right foundation is to a successful project, it is safe to say that rollers are indispensable to the construction industry. You will definitely find excellent applications for single and double drum roller machines, as well as smooth and Padfoot drum rollers in your future projects.

Article by KEP Services specialists in Cat Parts & Spares in the North East UK.

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KEP Services in the North East UK are trusted suppliers of excellent quality aftermarket Cat® parts at very competitive prices.