Equipment fleet owners, such as rental centers and municipalities, have always been faced with the challenge of getting the most use out of their equipment and achieving faster return on investment (ROI). With the development of Tier 4 Final diesel-powered equipment, that challenge couldn’t be truer, leading equipment fleet owners to consider cost-effective alternatives-such as hydraulically powered tools and equipment.
|Indoor/outdoor capabilities, wide tool selections and high outputs make hydraulic tools a desirable option among contractors, homeowners and municipality crews.|
Hydraulic equipment is widely used in Europe and is growing in popularity in the US because of its high versatility and competitive price point. With the implementation of T4F standards, the requirement will eventually phase out Tier 4 Interim diesel engines from the marketplace and nudge rental centers and municipalities toward higher priced equipment. This economic driver helps make rental centers and municipalities poised to escape their tier pressure using equipment with attractive ROIs and high versatility.
Hydraulically Driven ROIs
For rental centers, hydraulic equipment enhances the competitive edge when serving customers who can’t afford climbing rental rates associated with Tier 4 technology. There is a wide range of hydraulic tools, from cut-off saws to hydraulic hammers, that contractors and do-it-yourselfers can use to complete almost any task. And hydraulic equipment is relatively inexpensive to maintain, which makes it useful for budget-strapped municipalities, where operations are at the whim of local tax rates and politics as well as rental centers looking to enhance the bottom line.
Hydraulic equipment might offer a fast and flexible ROI. Rental centers and municipalities, for instance, can get an entire hydraulic tool package-a power pack, twin hoses and a handheld tool-for less than $5,000. The rental center could then keep a similar rental rate as a pneumatic tool package, which means a fast return on investment because of the greater profit margin. Or it might lower its rental rate to maximize utilization. On the municipality side, if utility vehicles feature a built-in hydraulic pump, maintenance crews might only need an oil-flow divider to regulate the oil pressure instead of a power pack, which saves on buying a power pack.
|Rental centers and municipalities can purchase a hydraulic tool package-a hydraulic power source, a tool and hoses-for less than $5,000, which makes it an economic solution for increasing Tier 4 Final equipment costs.|
There’s more to hydraulic tools than money savings, though; indoor/outdoor capabilities, wide tool selections and high outputs make hydraulic tools a desirable option. The hydraulic power packs are small enough to be brought indoors but are rugged for outdoor use. Many hydraulic tools, such as breakers, are generally more powerful than pneumatic equipment because hydraulic oil has more resistance than compressed air. For nearly every pneumatic tool, there is a comparable hydraulic counterpart that fits a variety of applications, including construction, demolition, landscaping, and road building and repairs. Its versatility and ease of use contribute to hydraulic equipment’s attractive utilization rates and in turn, fast ROI.
Low cost of ownership is another highlight of hydraulic equipment. Hydraulic power packs require minimal maintenance-regular oil and filter changes and topping off hydraulic oil in the reservoir. Some manufacturers also use biodegradable hydraulic oil, which is safer than other hydraulic oils in the event of a spill. This creates short turnaround times for rental centers and minimizes maintenance costs for municipalities.
Hydraulic tool maintenance, such as the power packs, is quick and simple. Before the tool leaves the yard, mechanics should check for oil leaks, tool damage and excessive wear. Mechanics also should refer to the manufacturers’ owners’ manuals for maintenance schedules.
The Power Behind Hydraulic Tools
A typical hydraulic power pack measures 25 inches tall, 25 inches wide, and 30 inches long, and easily fits inside a truck box along with other hydraulic tools, such as T-handle hydraulic breakers and cut-off saws. This makes packing a power pack and tools faster, easier and more efficient because more equipment fits in one vehicle instead of loading and securing single-axle or dual-axle trailers. And for some contractors and municipalities that have trucks with built-in hydraulic systems, loading and unloading is easier because crews might only need to pack the tool and an oil-flow divider.
There are multiple hydraulic power packs that operators can match to their particular tools. A 9-horsepower power pack, for example, generates sufficient hydraulic flows for most handheld hydraulic tools, including breakers, posthole drivers and saws. Some manufacturers offer power packs with as much as 18 horsepower, which generate the required flow for some of the biggest handheld equipment, such as 80-pound hydraulic breakers. And operators can increase their productivity by attaching two hydraulic tools to a single unit that features twin engines.
|Hydraulic submersible pumps typically draw more than 500 gallons per minute and handle solid debris as large as 2 inches in diameter.|
In addition to flexibility, hydraulic power packs operate efficiently, too. The engines are relatively small so they need minimal fuel to drive the hydraulic oil to the tools, which results in low fuel consumption. To further reduce fuel use, some power pack manufacturers install specialized fuel systems that conserve fuel until the operator engages the tools’ throttles. This saves fuel that would be wasted during idle periods and allows the operator to work longer between refueling.
Hydraulic power packs also allow the operator to work in cramped worksites, such as stairwell landings, and maneuver around tight corners with a wheeled chassis and handle. Once in position, the operator simply attaches the tool, starts the power pack and begins working.
Tools of the Trade
Rental centers and municipalities have a wide range of hydraulic tools to select from when choosing equipment. Hydraulic power tools are among the most versatile equipment, which can create much revenue potential for rental centers. Following is a brief overview of some of the most common hydraulic power tools, which includes cutoff saws, medium-sized breakers, post drivers and submersible pumps.
For concrete maintenance, a 14-inch hydraulic cut-off saw is the tool of choice for municipalities and contractors. This type of cut-off saw spins as fast as 4,000 rpm and is designed to cut through 5-inch thick concrete, asphalt and steel, making it good for removing precise sections of concrete slabs from walls. For cutting on floors, poured concrete and roads, some manufacturers also offer an attachable cart. The cart allows the operator to push the saw across the concrete without straining their backs from prolonged crouching.
|For nearly every pneumatic tool, there is a comparable hydraulic counterpart that fits a variety of applications, including construction, demolition, landscaping and road building and repairs.|
Contractors and municipalities use handheld hydraulic breakers for several indoor and outdoor demolition and renovation jobs. Their high working pressures and impact rates make breakers useful for removing brickwork and demolishing asphalt and concrete. Like many hydraulic tools, breakers have high power-to-weight ratios. Fifty-pound hydraulic breakers, for example, have roughly the same output as 60-pound pneumatic breakers, which give operators high demolition productivity in lightweight tools. In addition, some manufacturers include vibration-reduction features that minimize operator fatigue and the risk of injuries during prolonged use.
Posthole borers allow contractors and municipality crews to dig holes for a wide range of applications. Posthole borers use augers that range from 3 1/2-inch to more than 13-inch diameters and feature powerful torque outputs-as much as 232 foot-pounds-to quickly drill precise holes for road signs and more. Some borers feature adjustable torque limiters to prevent the posthole borer from spinning if the auger hits a stone. And two-way rotation capabilities make the augers efficient in stony soils by loosening compacted soil and spinning backward to help operators lift the tool out of the hole when finished.
To remove water from areas such as construction sites, flooded basements or utility tunnels, contractors and municipal maintenance crews turn to hydraulic submersible pumps. These pumps typically draw more than 500 gallons per minute and handle solid debris as large as 2 inches in diameter.
Extending Service Life
Adding hydraulic equipment to a fleet opens the door for business opportunities and flexibility. The versatility and easy maintenance of hydraulic tools contributes to maximum uptime and utilization, driving ROI and minimizing tier pressure. For municipalities, their crews can rely on the dependability of hydraulic equipment even as budgets change from term to term. And rental centers can continue to serve customers with existing pneumatic equipment and complement it with powerful, versatile alternatives.