Packer preps road for widening in Georgia

Case Studies
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The Thompson Slope Packer , manufactured by the Rockland Manufacturing Co. , is an alternative to conventional slope packing with a dozer. It packs slopes 10 times faster, virtually eliminates undercarriage wear and works under conditions that sideline crawler tractors.

Calvin Thompson, owner of Thompson Grading in Dallas, Ga., invented the packer so his company could work smarter. With 30 years of experience in the grading business, Thompson knew there had to be a better way to pack slopes and prevent runoff during grading projects. Track walking with a dozer was time consuming and expensive because it ate up dozer undercarriage. The time spent walking prevented the dozer from completing other tasks.

To remedy these problems, Thompson invented the packer, which captures the capabilities of a hydraulic excavator and dramatically speeds up the packing process. Now, the excavator can be placed at either the top or bottom of the slope to get the job done. Once in place, the excavator can sit in one spot and quickly outperform a dozer. On an excavator, the packer can pack and roughen right up to a silt fence, so it eliminates fence damage on most jobs.

Thompson Grading recently used the Slope Packer when it stabilized slopes for a large highway construction project near Cartersville in northwestern Georgia.

The job involved the widening of Center Road, which runs parallel to I-75. In total, it required slopes to be formed on more than 105 acres, or 1.6 million sq yd, and included the building and rolling of both cut slopes and fill slopes. The packer effectively rolled cut slopes that ranged from 160 ft to 180 ft tall and fill slopes greater than 100 ft tall. It was successful on both types of slope because it is able to surface roughen and compact slopes of any grade and in any soil condition.

Two major obstacles existed when completing the Center Road job: the large scope of the job and the strict environmental laws involved when rolling large slopes. Land developers are very strict about erosion control, because improper handling can cause soil to dangerously run off the site and lead to expensive fines. Safety was also extremely important because hundreds of cars passed the jobsite each hour. The packer helped the company control all of these issues and complied with all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System laws.

The Thompson Grading crew consisted of 30 men who built and rolled slopes in 8-ft sections along Center Road. They used the packer, along with the contractor’s scrapers, articulated trucks, bulldozers, loaders and compactors, to complete the job.

“One Slope Packer kept up with 30 men,” said Kevin Bentley, vice president for Thompson Grading. “We used this attachment to do the work that it takes six bulldozers to do. It was much more cost effective, stabilized the slope much faster, left a nice finish with cleat marks for grass seed to set in and saved time on the job.”

The packer easily attaches to any excavator. For this project, Thompson Grading used the packer with a Caterpillar 330C, Komatsu PC300 and Komatsu PC400.

The packer is available in 4-ft, 6-ft and 8-ft models and fits excavators weighing between 36,000 and 100,000 lb. Its self-cleaning design eliminates carryback and makes it possible to work in wet conditions, which is not possible with a dozer. Its small width allows it to be transported on a flatbed truck without a permit.

“The first day we used this attachment in our fleet, it proved its worth,” Calvin Thompson said. “It took our operator 15 minutes to roll the same 120-ft slope that took 11 hours to complete with a bulldozer.”

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