The road surfacing business requires a high level of machine availability and total back-up from the manufacturer. For surfacing contractor Toppesfield, that means buying the best equipment, with the highest levels of customer support.
Toppesfield started out in business five years ago. Directors Matthew Pryor, Gale Pryor and David Last brought together experience and expertise from a number of industries, with only Mr Pryor having worked in road surfacing before, to create a company that has proven popular with a growing number of main contractors. “We make ourselves very easy to deal with,” says Mr Last. “We’re very client focussed.”
The company has a turnover of more than £15 million and is growing rapidly. The initial focus was very much on selling, and that remains true today, as Toppesfield has found work in a highly competitive industry. “After a few months as we grew, we decided that we wanted to have gangs of our own. We started to purchase our own plant, but it was almost a year before we bought our first paver,” says Mr Last. That paver, an Ingersoll-Rand ABG machine, was only purchased after a thorough examination at the market and consultation with the firm’s rapidly growing experienced workforce. Additional machines joined the fleet and the company now has six gangs working with paving equipment.
When Volvo Construction Equipment expanded its portfolio to include road machinery products two years ago there was little doubt that the company could provide the necessary support to existing ABG customers in the eyes of Toppesfield’s management. Those first two pavers at Toppesfield have recently been replaced, after three years of almost constant service, with the latest Volvo ABG 6870 models. But Toppesfield didn’t just opt to stay with the same make straight away, the machines’ performance and the back-up that has come from Volvo sealed the deal. “We expect the same levels of service that we offer our customers,” says Mr Last. “We wouldn’t be back buying Volvo if we weren’t happy with any aspect of the product or the service.”
The ABG 6870 is the largest of a three-model range of Volvo wheeled pavers, offering a paving output of up to 700 tonnes/hour, with a maximum mat thickness of 300mm. The three axle machine offers a high degree of flexibility, with paving widths of 2.5-9m available from a single screed. Volvo’s Smart Drive technology means that all six wheels are driven, providing traction for the most difficult ground conditions.
Powered by a Tier III liquid-cooled Deutz engine, providing 166hp (122kW), the machine uses a Smart Drive system of anti-slip control with load dependent torque control for the front wheels and an electronic differential system on the rear axle. The front wheels are automatically hydraulically levelled, to ensure a smooth ride and optimum laying conditions. The front wheels are independently suspended, resulting in a screed that remains level for the best paving results.
There are three drive modes; paving, shunting and travel, offering travel speeds up to 40km/h. In paving mode, which has a 20km/h maximum speed, the Smart Power system lowers the engine speed, reducing noise and emissions, and cutting fuel consumption for the customer. Switching to the shunting mode automatically deactivates the paving systems, which restarts as soon as paving mode is re-engaged. Two Vario Screeds are available, the VB78 and VB88, both offering varying paving widths for maximum flexibility. The screeds can be extended hydraulically to twice the basic paving width.
Operators benefit from a large graphic monitor, with push-button controls for Volvo’s Electronic Paver Management (EPM) system. The operator can adjust almost every system on the machine from the screen, tailoring the paver to the dimensions of the job. The EPM monitor provides a comprehensive range of information on machine systems and operating status. This control unit can easily be repositioned on either side of the platform, allowing the operator to sit on the left or right and maintain a direct view of curbs and guides. The operator can also slide the seat out beyond the cab floor, with the roof extending out to protect from rain and sun.
Toppesfield has been very impressed with the new machines, which are already being kept busy, thanks to a full order book. “We’ve just had our biggest first quarter, and in fact the biggest quarter that we’ve ever had,” says Mr Last. “There is work out there but you’ve got to go and find it and do it. It’s just the difference between what we do and what our competitors do,” he says. The company is so busy that its machinery is rarely left standing. It has no team of engineers to ensure that they keep running, relying instead on Volvo to take care of service and maintenance on site. Mr Last expects turnover to continue growing as the year progresses. Volvo paving machinery is sure to remain at the core of this rapidly expanding business, as its reputation for service and performance continues to grow. “With the clients that we want to work with, you can’t turn up with any old machines,” says Mr Last.