Paving the way: Volvo CE's first D-Series paver

Volvo CE’s regional director for road building equipment discusses the trends in the paving segment that are guiding product development with a focus on the upcoming rollout of the first D-Series model

Volvo Co-Pilot also tracks the volume of material being laid over a given area.
Volvo Co-Pilot also tracks the volume of material being laid over a given area.

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One machine that will be hitting the market this year with a batch of new features is the Volvo CE P4820D paver — the first of the manufacturer’s D-Series pavers and a new class equipped with a new engine management system and three significant developments in terms of its on-board interface and telematics functionality.

But first things first, as Darren Fitch, road machinery director for EMEA at Volvo CE, explains: “It’s a new class that we’re entering. It’s a 96kW machine, with a paving width from 2.5m to 6.5m. It’s been built to address the question of versatility and efficiency. We call it the inner-city to inter-city paver.

“There’s a growing trend now, especially in Europe, to move away from high volume, high output, new road building towards maintaining existing road networks and efficient paving within cities with low noise and CO2 impact — so we’ve really tried to come with a fuel and noise efficient machine that can work at night in the city.”

From the perspective of the operator who is working up an close to the machines, the noise rating for the P4820D is below 80 decibels, and Volvo has achieved the same with the 6820 and the 7820 — all of them being full Volvo machines using its own engines and powertrains.

Fitch continues: “That’s a significant milestone and we believe we are still the leader across the full paving range regardless of size class — it’s a core competency and it’s been an area we have focused on in the last few years and continue to focus on, because we believe in it.”

The machine is also just light enough that it can be transported with a 10-tonne compacter — a transport configuration that allows both units to attend multiple job sites in one day. “So really, it is aimed at that flexibility and versatility market, and trying to be as efficient as possible,” Fitch adds.

The P4820D also comes with an adaptive power management system that allows the engine to automatically adjust its speed to the needs of the machine, depending on whether, for example, the operator is paving at with a 4m or 6m screed.

“So it’s not always working at a pre-set rpm and burning fuel and generating noise when it doesn’t need to,” notes Fitch, contrasting it with the previous generation, which required the operator to manually select a power load. He adds: “The power management system can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30% depending upon the configuration.”

The width of the basic screed on the machine is adjusted hydraulically between 2.5m and 5m, and can then be extended with two 250mm or two 750mm extensions to achieve screed widths of 5.5m or 6.5m, respectively. A quick coupling system also makes adding or removing the extensions a quick and easy process.

Asked about the prospects for the class in the Gulf, Fitch explains: “Our main volume is the 6820, 7820 highway class machines in most of the Gulf markets, but again we have seen a shift.

“If we go back five years, we were selling mostly 7820s. Then, when we launched the C Series a couple of years ago, we saw a shift towards the 6820 — downsizing towards more versatile fuel efficient machine. So we do see that trend of downsizing.”

At the same time, the capabilities of the medium-duty pavers like the 6820 and 7820 have been increasing in over time, and this has allowed such machines to do bigger projects than that class of machines would have done 10 years ago.

The result, Fitch says, is that “you don’t necessarily need the high power and the capability of a full 10m screed all the time, and customers don’t want to be paying the fuel and maintenance bills that go along with having that higher power availability on the tracked unit when they don’t need it”.

In the Gulf, he affirms: “The larger machines are being used on the larger projects where they are needed, but the general purpose machines have been downsizings somewhat, and as the road network develops more, customers will realise that they don’t need 10m or 15m machines if they’re only going to work in the city or on local roads.”

Returning to the P4820, another development is version three of Volvo’s EPM or electronic paver management — a type of system first pioneered by Volvo on a paving machine in 1998 — that delivers the advantages of the previous versions through an updated and simplified interface.

The new system uses a job wheel concept for controlling the main features — so the controls are laid out physically around the machine like one big menu and require just a single action by the operator to manipulate — replacing a touchscreen that required the operator to repetitively drill down through menu options. It also features with a pre-programmable settings manager that allows the operator to save settings and recall them later for a quicker setup and more consistent results on the jobsite.

The machine also comes with the Volvo CE Co-Pilot interface, which collects performance and quality data, including material consumption, square metres covered per tonne, paving width and real-time feedback on whether the operator is ahead or behind of their targets in terms of the material consumption rate — as Volvo’s customers typically get paid on either a square metre or tonnage basis.

For paving, the Co-pilot also comes in two versions: the basic Pave Assist material manager and a more advanced system that thermally maps the pavement coming out of the back of the machine using two infrared cameras to help identify cold spots. These can shorten the life of the surface and point to problems in the asphalt laying process. The D-Series is the first generation of Volvo pavers with the full CareTrack telematics system.

The P4820D will be available in unregulated markets from the end of Q2 2017.

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