Special Report on Material Feeders:
The Facts You Need to Know

VÖGELE Feeders Combine Quality and Cost Efficiency.

With their PowerFeeders MT 3000-2 Standard and MT 3000-2 Offset, VÖGELE offer cutting-edge technology that sets the standards in today’s road construction industry, both in terms of quality and cost efficiency. We put the spotlight on the various facets of material feeder technology, highlight opportunities and possibilities and take a look at the offerings of some of the competitors.

Though we have amassed a great deal of information from the market, our own experiences and from our customers, this material does not constitute a scientific study. However, it does provide a very concrete picture of the current market situation. And ultimately, that’s what counts.

12 Facts You Should Know About Feeder Technology

Fact 1 – Continuous Paving

Maximum conveying capacity for non-stop paving

If the paver stands idle, this has a negative impact on the pavement quality. Consequently, a continuous supply of mix is one of the most decisive quality factors. Ensuring this requires two things: perfectly functioning logistics and a machine and material conveying concept that can transfer large quantities of mix easily and reliably.

The high-performance VÖGELE PowerFeeders MT 3000-2 Standard and MT 3000-2 Offset can store a total of 40t of mix in the overall system of feeder and paver, and convey up to 1,200t of mix per hour. The VÖGELE technology allows a 25t feed lorry to be completely emptied in just 60 seconds – one of the key factors for an uninterrupted paving process.

This ensures that the paver always has sufficient material and can even handle high daily laydown rates of 4,000t and more with no problem. The use of a material feeder significantly increases daily paving performance, especially when it comes to major road projects, such as the construction or rehabilitation of motorways, where maximum laydown rates and a non-stop paving process are called for. At the same time, job site logistics are speeded up and the driver of the feed lorry has more time for the process-critical manœuvring.

Measurements prove it:
A material feeder increases job site performance by 25%

If you compare the pave speed of a paver operating without (Fig. 1) or with a material feeder (Fig. 2), the enormous importance of an uninterrupted supply of mix becomes plainly evident.

Figure 1: Operation without material feeder
Without a material feeder, regular stops are often unavoidable. These are identifiable in the graph by the repeated downturns of the red curve. The average pave speed – shown in blue – is 2.28m/min.

Figure 2: Operation with VÖGELE PowerFeeder
With a VÖGELE material feeder of the PowerFeeder generation, the paver is in continuous operation: the red curve remains at a constant level. The average speed is 2.83m/min, which is almost 25% faster than without a feeder.

Fact 2 – Non-Contacting Material Feed Process

No contact, no loss of quality

Uninterrupted asphalt paving is based on the material management of the VÖGELE PowerFeeder. High daily laydown rates with outstanding quality can only be achieved in this way. Our attention focuses particularly on ensuring that the mix is transferred to the paver precisely, absolutely safely and without contact.

Sensor-based distance control

A key technical prerequisite for a non-contacting transfer of material from the feeder to the paver is a robust, sensor-based distance control system. In this context, mechanical or optical sensors ensure that the feeder automatically maintains the correct distance from the paver. In the case of the VÖGELE PowerFeeders MT 3000-2 Offset, this is achieved with a redundant system comprising three individual lasers. The control system calculates a mean value from these three sensors. This ensures that the distance remains constant, even if one or more sensors are blocked, e.g. by passing workers.

Anti-collision protection enhances safety

The system is rounded off by an anti-collision protection solution in the form of a contact bar on the paver’s material hopper and an EMERGENCY STOP function. If, for example, the convoy comprising the material feeder and paver has to stop for some reason and the feeder comes too close to the paver, this function triggers an immediate stop upon contact or pressure, automatically eliminating the danger of a collision. This allows the feeder operator to concentrate fully on the transfer of material.

Distance control and anti-collision protection are both critical technical solutions for a high-quality and safe material transfer process. It is therefore imperative that these features be taken into account when choosing the right machine technology.

Things you should know:
It is true in principle that other feeders also permit a non-contacting transfer of material. However, they often fail to provide the support and safety of advanced technology such as distance control. As a result, the feeder operator has to constantly concentrate on maintaining the correct distance between his feeder and the paver. This results in a high risk of the machines colliding, potentially causing unwanted mix spillages.

Fact 3 – Wide Range of Applications

Freedom of choice in terms of job sites and materials

The more flexibly a material feeder can be used, the more cost efficient its use becomes. No matter what the job site conditions are or which material is to be placed, VÖGELE feeders can be used virtually anywhere and for any application. After all, they can handle not only every conceivable hot or cold material, but are also capable of supporting a diverse array of paving tasks on virtually any kind of terrain.

Material feeders are most commonly used in the construction of motorways. And the VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2 Offset is, for all intents and purposes, made-to-measure for paving “hot-to-hot” with two pavers. However, offset technology also allows quick and economical filling of cavities in safety barriers. And when surfacing footpaths or cycle paths, the feeder really brings all of its advantages to bear: thanks to its pivoting conveyor, it can conveniently drive on the road while simultaneously transferring the mix to a small or compact paver on the pathway.

The VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2 Offset also excels when used with InLine Pave trains, where the binder and surface courses are paved “hot-on-hot” in a single pass. In this case, the pivoting conveyor feeds the paver for binder course and the paver for surface course alternately.

Things you should know:
Some feeders on the market are unable to transfer coarse-grained materials due to their inflexible conveying concept and relatively sensitive remixing unit. This means a considerable disadvantage, e.g. when placing non-bituminous materials like crushed stone, for which an additional feeder is then required.

MT 3000-2 Standard and MT 3000-2 Offset offer a broad range of applications. This makes their use particularly economical.

The precisely controllable conveyor of the VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2 Offset, which can be pivoted through 55°, is practically made-to-measure for paving “hot-to-hot” with two pavers.

The offset technology also allows quick and economical filling of cavities in safety barriers.

Material can be fed from the side wherever paving has to be carried out in cramped conditions and normal mix supply is not possible, e.g. if the feed lorry is unable to manœuvre in a deeply milled track.

The VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2 Standard is the ideal machine for applications that do not require the use of a pivoting conveyor. This material feeder stands out through high performance and extremely low transport costs.

Fact 4 – Modern Machine and Material Conveying Concept

High-quality mix thanks to effective homogenization

The material feeders in the VÖGELE PowerFeeder generation use conical augers in order to homogenize the mix. The conical shape prevents the formation of so-called “tunnels” in the material. Instead, the material is withdrawn evenly from all areas of the feeder’s receiving hopper. And because fresh hot mix is constantly being conveyed in from outside, it is also thermally homogenized. The result: significantly better homogenization and, consequently, better pavement quality.

Homogenizing the mix due to the conical shape of the augers

The auger shaft is particularly thick on the outside due to the conical shape of the auger, meaning that it can only receive and further convey a small quantity of relatively cool material.

In contrast to the conical base body, the diameter of the spiral worm remains constant along the entire length of the auger. An increasing amount of space is thus available for the material being conveyed.

The result: the small quantity of somewhat cooler material from outside is mixed with an increasing amount of warmer material from the middle of the feeder’s receiving hopper. This has the overall effect of homogenizing the temperature.

Trough shape prevents mechanical segregation

The VÖGELE PowerFeeders operate with the most compact material conveying system possible. To prevent the mechanical segregation of coarse-grained and fine-grained materials, the number of transition points has been consciously kept low and the mix remains in a constant state of flow. The trough-shaped conveyor is a key element in this context, providing for stable material transport and thus counteracting mechanical segregation. This in turn ensures that the mix quality is maintained in every phase of conveying, up to the point of paving.

Extra hopper without corners or edges

In order to optimize the flow of material, the extra hopper for the paver was intentionally designed without superfluous corners and edges. Smooth transitions and steep walls prevent the material from accumulating and blocking the flow of mix. The entire quantity of mix is thus continuously fed into the paving process without any of it being able to cool down.

The only feeder with a heating system

In order to ensure optimum material management, a specially developed diesel heating system with non-contacting infra-red heating panels maintains the correct temperature of the conveyor. The conveyor is pre-heated to the required temperature even before the first feed process takes place, so that no material can stick to it.

In this respect, the diesel heating system has decisive advantages. Only one type of fuel is needed on the job site. Replacing gas cylinders is a now thing of the past. Other material feeders have no heating systems. This means that they have to be heated with hot grit or hot mix, which have to be delivered especially for this purpose. This is unproductive, time-consuming and expensive.

Fact 5 – Low Fuel Consumption

50% lower fuel costs

With fuel prices continuing to soar, the fuel consumption of a material feeder has long been one of the key factors for cost efficiency. VÖGELE PowerFeeders boast a highly advanced drive and machine concept. This allows particularly economical and eco-friendly operation. Measurements confirm that extremely low consumption levels of approx. 17 litres of diesel fuel are possible, depending on job site conditions.

Things you should know:
Some material feeders on the market require more than 40 litres of diesel fuel under the same conditions and for the same quantity of material – in other words, more than twice as much!

Fact 6 – Low Maintenance and Service Costs

Less wear equals lower costs

In normal cases, the more wearing parts a machine has and the more frequently they have to be replaced, the higher the costs of operating the machine. VÖGELE material feeders clearly hold the cost advantage in this respect thanks to their rubber conveyor belts, which are less susceptible to wear. Conclusion: VÖGELE feeders are significantly more cost efficient to operate in terms of maintenance and replacement parts.

Professionals, such as construction machine rental firm Werwie, Germany, confirm the extremely low wear of the conveyor belts of the VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2: “We’ve been operating our VÖGELE material feeders for around 3,200 hours without any problems!”

Things you should know:
Material feeders with metal conveyor bars in particular are far more susceptible to wear and costly to operate. These conveyor bars have to be replaced regularly – a time-consuming undertaking that costs a pretty penny, too.

Fact 7 – Inexpensive Logistics Costs

Up to 58% lower transport costs

Transporting a material feeder is also a cost factor that should not be underestimated. One extremely favourable aspect of VÖGELE feeders is that their design is optimized from the ground up for transportation. The MT 3000-2 Standard in particular is ready for transport in virtually no time at all, saving the owner a great deal of time, manpower and costs.

What’s more, with a height of 3m, VÖGELE PowerFeeders do not exceed the permissible transport height of 4m, even when being transported on a regular trailer. That equates to big savings in logistics costs. A practical example: the costs for transporting a VÖGELE MT 3000-2 Offset over a distance of roughly 370km in Germany are approx. 58% less in comparison with a selected competitor.

Example: Transport cost comparison

A VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2 Offset and a competitor’s material feeder were transported. The transport costs were shown according to the distance travelled. The VÖGELE feeder yielded a cost saving of as much as €750 for a distance of up to 100km. This saving potential rises significantly over increasing distances (see tables below).

Things you should know:
With material feeders from other manufacturers, specific machine components may have to be removed in order to make the machine ready for transport. That costs additional time and money. And transport costs are even more expensive if the material feeder is over 3.5m in height. In such cases, the machine has to be transported on a special low-bed trailer to avoid exceeding the permissible transport height of 4m. However, this type of transport requires a special permit that prescribes a defined – often circuitous – route. Also, such transport is only permissible at night. As you can see, the greater the height and weight of the material feeder, the greater the logistical challenges and the higher the costs.

Fact 8 – Maximum Manœuvrability

Off-road-capable and extremely manœuvrable

Be it steep gradients or slopes, difficult terrain or tight radii, they pose no problem for the VÖGELE PowerFeeders. This is thanks not least to the good off-road capability, maximum traction and precision of the crawler tracks, as well as a very small turning radius.

Things you should know:
Some material feeders are simply unable to negotiate difficult terrain. The reasons for this are numerous: a high net weight, enormous height and width and a sensitive wheeled undercarriage. These are all characteristics that limit their off-road capability to a minimum, for instance because they are already in danger of tipping over on a slope of 5° and above. And because these material feeders are not particularly manœuvrable either, even the terrain on the job site can severely impede operation.

Fact 9 – Greater Ease of Operation

Ergonomics you can grasp

VÖGELE material feeders are characterized by their advanced ErgoPlus operating concept, in which the focus is squarely on the operator. This is illustrated by the outstanding overview afforded by the operator’s platform, as well as by the simply arranged operator’s console, which greatly reduces the risk of accidents and operating errors. Instead of a number of different control panels, VÖGELE material feeders have just one central operating console that provides the necessary information at a glance and is intuitive to handle.

And talking of intuitive operation: a joystick is used to pivot the proportionally controlled conveyor with the utmost precision and sensitivity through max. 55° in both directions and to tilt it by up to 23°. Such high-precision manœuvrability has many advantages. These include the safe and effortless feeding of pavers from the side, backfilling trenches or the cavities in safety barriers during motorway construction, as well as reconstruction measures on hard shoulders.

Things you should know:
The material feeders of some competitors are extremely difficult to operate. These have multiple, decentrally positioned operator’s consoles. Their layout is also so complex that even experienced personnel require special training. The consequence: substantial additional personnel and training costs.

Easier operation equals greater cost efficiency

The ErgoPlus operating concept of VÖGELE PowerFeeders also trumps when it comes to cost efficiency. This is because most applications can be handled with just one machine operator. The feeder operator has a convenient overview of the entire process, from the intake of mix all the way to transfer to the paver’s material hopper. VÖGELE also offer a number of intelligent functions that greatly facilitate the machine operator’s work.

For example, the automatic distance control system ensures that the material feeder and paver always maintain the optimum distance from one another. This allows the feeder operator to concentrate on the real task at hand. A second machine operator is only needed in the event of complex material transfer processes. VÖGELE PowerFeeders also save money in this way day after day.

Things you should know:
The material feeders of some competitors have an outdated and extremely confusing machine design. This prevents the machine operator from having a clear overview of either the intake of mix or the transfer of mix to the paver. The operator’s consoles are also very complicated which renders cost efficient operation by a single person virtually impossible under normal job site conditions. A second operator is often needed on board. And that costs extra money every day.

Fact 10 – Advanced Heating System That Boosts Quality

Nothing is wasted

The paving material is the greatest cost factor in road construction. That makes it all the more important to handle it efficiently. VÖGELE PowerFeeders are the only feeders on the market equipped with a modern diesel heating system that heat the conveyor to the ideal temperature in order to prevent the mix from cooling. To make absolutely sure that no material sticks to any of the relevant transition points, the scraper for the conveyor belt and the upper discharge unit are also electrically heated.

Things you should know:
Competitors who do not have a separate heating system to heat up the conveyor use hot grit or hot mix instead. This material has to be heated and delivered at great expense and led unproductively through the machine. Last but not least, the now useless material also has to be disposed of because once cooled, it can of course no longer be used for paving.

Fakt 11 – Superior Service

The world’s closest-knit service network

Just how good or bad a company’s service really is only becomes evident when push comes to shove. At such times, it’s comforting to know that you can rely on the closest-knit and most competent service network in the world – that of the WIRTGEN GROUP.
With 55 subsidiaries, well over 700 service technicians and a dealership network that spans the entire globe, we are always on hand to quickly help you wherever you may be.

Things you should know:
Unfortunately, a few competitors on the feeder market do not have a good track record when it comes to service: this is because the density of the service network and the number of contacts vary extremely from country to country. Even in countries with a high level of road construction activity, such as Germany, this can mean that only a single person acts as the point of contact for service requests in the entire country.

Fact 12 – More Environmentally-Friendly

A topic of wide public interest

Environmental protection and sustainability have a very high priority in the public eye and construction projects often come under scrutiny.

So it’s good to know that VÖGELE material feeders fulfil the relevant criteria in exemplary fashion. VÖGELE PowerFeeder MT 3000-2 machines have a highly advanced drive concept with cutting-edge engine technology. The ECO mode also permits significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. What’s more, their rubber conveyor belts are many times quieter than conveyors using metal bars. This benefits both the job-site team and any nearby residents.

Things you should know:
Competitor machines that use metal conveyor bars to transport mix are not only much noisier than material feeders with a rubber conveyor belt, but also have far higher fuel consumption – more than twice as high as that of VÖGELE feeders! Consequently, they are not only louder, but also emit twice as much CO2.

VÖGELE Material Feeders Ensure Top Quality

Extremely even and durable road surfaces are no coincidence, but rather the product of clearly definable quality factors. Every interruption to paving, for instance when asphalt runs out, every jolt of a feed lorry docking onto the paver and every instance of material segregation is immediately evident in the quality of the paved road. The use of a material feeder prevents this. It is a crucial link between the feed lorry and paver, continuously supplying the latter with mix without any physical contact whatsoever. It thus comes as no surprise that the use of a material feeder is increasingly becoming mandatory in invitations to tender.

With the material feeders of their PowerFeeder generation, VÖGELE offer a complete machine and paving technology package featuring components which complement one another logically and interact effectively. This perfectly fulfils all requirements on quality and cost efficiency.

Something that has long been common practice in various countries around the world is now also being introduced in Germany: with effect from 01 January 2015, the use of material feeders for construction projects on national motorways with an asphalt surface area of greater than 18,000m² will become a standard requirement in tender documents. This was announced in a circular issued by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development on 18 October 2013.