Lancashire County Council (LCC) undertake the maintenance of over 4000 miles of A and B roads running through the county. Consisting of main arterial routes and country lanes, along with residential streets, a large amount of maintenance is required to be carried out on a regular basis. To this end, the Highways team at the council run two highly experienced surfacing and repairs teams covering the whole region, complete with a pair of Volvo pavers.
John Banks, Operations Engineer at LCC, explains the reasoning behind the Council’s use of in-house resurfacing operations; “We find that running our own teams gives us massive amounts of flexibility when it comes to undertaking work. We can put both gangs together for larger jobs just as any sub-contractor can, but we believe we can respond far quicker to emergency works than any external operation could.”
The latest in a line of Volvo paving technology to join the LCC fleet is the first P6870D machine to enter service in GB, and follows on from three earlier models ranging back to an ABG6870 delivered in 2012.
SMT GB caught up with the teams at LCC and their new P6870D as it went to work in the seaside town of Lytham St Annes, where they were in the process of resurfacing a residential street. Prior to the paver’s arrival, the team had used the services of their planing sub-contractor to remove the old worn out surface.
Whilst LCC are no strangers to the Volvo paver range, the latest D series has been greatly improved and updated from previous models. From a health and safety point of view, the days of carrying diesel and AdBlue up to the top of the machine to replenish the tanks is long gone, with Volvo moving all fluid filling points to the safety of ground level. Forward vision has also been improved thanks to the revised bonnet design. Totally flat, the operator now has a clear and unobstructed view into the hopper at the front of the machine, even with the hoppers raised. The centralised greasing system has also been relocated up to the top deck of the machine, making it easier to monitor its levels and easier to refill when necessary.
Outwardly, the design of the paver is similar to the outgoing model, but the changes made underneath the skin now puts the D series of pavers at the forefront of road building technology. Thanks to a Volvo 6-cylinder diesel engine delivering 175hp, the P6870D meets the latest Stage V emissions regulations, making it ideal for working in residential locations. Access to both the engine and hydraulic systems remains straightforward, thanks to the generous access panels on the machine. The P6870D is the first model to be fitted with Volvo’s new EPM3 management system, which provides ergonomic control of all machine functions for both the driver and all other operators. The information is now shown on an all-new dashboard for the driver, and similar control panels mounted to both ends of the screed.
The new system means that any operator in the gang can now take full control of all of the machine’s functions, including the material feed, which leaves the driver to steer the machine in the required direction. The simple and intuitive control system was quickly picked up by the experienced operators at the business end of the machine once it started laying. The EPM3 system also allows the operators to monitor service intervals, productivity alerts and gives a warning to the driver when these parameters require attention. CareTrack on the machine allows for remote vehicle monitoring along with geolocation of the paver at all times.
The new P6870D has been supplied with a standard VB 78 screed, which offers a potential paving width of up to 9 meters. This is seen as an ideal screed unit for LCC’s requirements, and is more than capably handled by the tractor’s impressive traction from its 6×6 driveline. Optional hydraulic end gates have also been specified for this machine, which are controlled from the EPM3 control panels on the screed.
With a potential capacity to lay up to 700 tonnes per hour, productivity issues are something the LCC team never have to worry about. “I’ve been operating the pavers at LCC for over 10 years, and find the Volvo machines so easy to set up and operate.” Comments Alan Jones, one of the regular machine drivers and foreman. “This new version is even easier. Everything is well laid out; the controls are easy to use, and the operator station is very comfortable too.”
Additional working and warning lighting have been fitted to the paver, along with the optional balloon lighting system for the night time projects the teams occasionally undertake.
The machine’s first job went without a hitch, with the gangs quickly laying the 100m or so of base course. The 13t capacity hopper opens to a maximum width of 3.17m, allowing ample room for reversing trucks to tip into. The two heavy-duty conveyors are capable of feeding the two augers at up to 40m per minute, ensuring a regulated flow of material.
Mark Smith looks after procurement for the Council’s highways division and said; “The authority has nine years of experience operating Volvo paving machines. Renowned for their build quality and reliability, the new P6870D model launched in April 2020, is achieving improved fuel efficiencies, reducing our operational costs and our carbon footprint, all of which further enhances the machines’ appeal. The next generation EPM system provides multiple features to assist operational and management control. The EPM3 redundancy concept is an invaluable characteristic of the machine. Procured complete with the CareTrack telematics system, an excellent service maintenance package, with an inclusive comprehensive warranty and aftersales technical support from SMT, gives both operator and management teams peace of mind.”
All in all, the whole of LCC’s highways team are impressed with their latest fleet addition and are looking forward to keeping the roads of Lancashire in fine fettle with it.