Contractors in the market for a concrete slipform paver with a 20- to 53-foot maximum width have a lot to consider beyond how much it’s going to set them back financially.

“Far too often contractors ask only the price of the machine,” says Stephen Bullock, president of Power Curbers Companies. “Total cost of ownership – which includes parts and service, transport and resale value – is a more important, relevant question.”

Contractors also should have clear expectations of what they need and let the dealer know those requirements, so they can get the right model, size and attachments, says Tim Nash, director of concrete products for Wirtgen America.

“I would also encourage equipment buyers to focus attention on the key areas of a slipform paver,” he says. That includes mold and frame design, material flow concept, how quickly paving widths can be changed and whether the paver is compatible with 3D control and which suppliers are certified for the machine.

Roger Bockes, founder and CEO of Heavy Equipment Manufacturing, also recommends focusing on durability and dependability.

“You want a machine that’s going to last and be able to perform in all types of conditions, without worrying that the machine will break down in the field, and you are forced to wait on a manufacturer’s technician for repairs,” Bockes says. “Another factor that you definitely want to consider when looking at different concrete paving equipment is the ease of operation and field maintenance.”

What contractors want

Contractors’ preferences for specific paver features are varied, ranging from basic to high-tech, but certain themes typically come up in dealer discussions.

Stringless 3D paving is one of the top interests, due to the cost-savings.

“Stringless controls have gone from cutting-edge to common in recent years,” says Bullock. “Eliminating stringline saves labor and opens up the jobsite to allow more room for equipment mobility.”

But the high cost of the equipment gives many contractors pause.

“Some are interested in stringless paving and are ready for it,” Bockes says, “but the majority want to know if they can add it at a later date without having to spend the money for the systems now.”

The difficulty in hiring experienced operators is also influencing buying decisions.

“All customers want to know about the ease of width changes and the level of experience and expertise required to operate the paving equipment,” Bockes says.

“Given the limited supply of skilled labor in our industry,” Bullock adds, “finding a machine that’s simple to set up and run is a must for most contractors.”

Bockes says HEM’s SFP 8-15 and SFP 12-27 are nearly equal in popularity.

The SFP 8-15 can pave 8-foot-wide bike paths and trails, as well as perform street and highway paving up to 26 feet wide with an extension kit. He recommends the paver for companies new to slipform paving or those working on small to mid-range projects, because of its versatility.

The SFP 12-27 can perform single-lane paving as well as jobs up to 35 feet wide. “This machine, with its wide range of paving widths, has been popular with contractors for over two decades,” Bockes says, “and can be equipped with many options for concrete delivery, dowel bar insertion, custom curb applications and stringless capabilities at the time of purchase or later, depending upon the needs of the contractor.”

He adds that HEM’s pavers do not require a heavily trained technician to operate them. “Our machines are intuitive, easy to understand, and they’re built with rock-solid durability.” And they all use common parts, “so the customer is not held to using proprietary parts when you need them.”

GOMACO’s GP4 paver can pave up to 40 feet wide and at varying lower widths. It is available in two- and four-track versions.

Its roller frame has dual-telescoping capabilities of up to 7 feet on each side. The company says it easily turns radii with smart leg positioning and smart track rotation. It can be switched to transport mode by driving the legs around to the transport position.

The paver is compatible with GOMACO’s G+ control system, designed to provide quiet running technology and load-sensed hydraulics. G+ Connect enables interface with the company’s smart accessories and guidance system.