Continue maintenance or upgrade

By Jeff Winke

When it comes to asphalt pavement sealcoating equipment there is a balancing act between continued maintenance or replacement. The contractor must decide if their trusted existing equipment can continue to produce at its highest productive level or whether a new replacement will outperform and be more profitable? Knowing when the fulcrum has pivoted to the time to replace is crucial.

“It is different for every company, typically we evaluate the balance between performance, down time and maintenance cost,” stated Randy Tattershall, director of sales for Rayner Equipment Systems an Etnyre International Company, Sacramento, California. “The greater the wear on a machine the higher the maintenance cost and lower the production. Every production hour a machine is out of commission is expensive, this is lost production time we cannot get back. The actual cost of maintenance is an important consideration, however time is the number one factor. So, the time to upgrade your equipment is determined by when the maintenance cost and performance impede production demands.”

Replacing a machine from an asphalt paving contractor’s fleet is a big business decision that challenges and can plague a contractor with a lot of “what ifs” and concerns about best timing and what is best.

Some contractors will evaluate their needs at the end of the season, conduct a year-end inventory to determine what equipment in their fleet should be replaced.

The best time to upgrade is at the end of a season,” stated Jason Mixell, engineering and sales manager at Nealco Equipment, LLC, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. “At the end of the season, you can take your time and talk with a manufacturer to get the machine that is best for your situation. Perhaps you plan to take on more of those jobs you turned down because your machine and crew couldn’t schedule them. Or perhaps you want to improve completion times so you can win those big jobs you bid on and lost in the past.

“Buying a machine in the fall is beneficial because you have time to shop around. Manufacturers are less busy. They may have machines in stock or they can plan and build something custom if desired. In the spring demand is higher and many are left on waiting lists, especially with today’s supply chains. Additionally, receiving a machine in the off season gives you and your crew time to become accustomed to any differences so you don’t have that learning curve during productive time.”

As Perry Hudson, territory manager for Texas and sealcoat product expert with Crafco, Inc., Chandler, Arizona said, “When your sealcoat projects have outgrown the equipment you are currently using, it’s time to look at acquiring larger sealcoat equipment. Larger sealcoat equipment means larger tanks. Larger tanks allow you to complete jobs at a faster rate by not traveling as often to refill. This will increase production and your overall margins by lowering labor cost.

Hudson continued, “Also, with new equipment you have less breakdowns. Less breakdowns equals more production.

Breakdowns are not only costly in repairing equipment but also costly in not finishing the project in a timely manner.”

The technology found on new equipment can improve the benefits of asphalt sealcoating. As with all parts of our modern world, technology helps the paving contractor proactively achieve better results, better quality.

“Improved technology increases the machinery’s performance where more work can be accomplished with less manpower,” Tattershall said. “Faster application speeds, precise application rates and wider application per pass delivers more completed projects with lower labor costs.”

Successful sealcoating of asphalt pavement requires focus.

“Perhaps the best advice for contractors regarding sealcoating,” Hudson offered, “is to educate property managers on why sealcoating is beneficial. Once they understand the advantages and can see it firsthand their pavement they become a strong customer.

“It also is critical to know what sealer and mix design is best for the pavement that’s being coated and definitely follow the manufactures recommended application rate to ensure a successful outcome.”

Tattershall said, “In our experience, the top three tips for contractors to be successful at sealcoating are quality, efficiency, and attention to detail. These are the elements that set top contractors apart from the competition.”

Of course, using the best equipment for a contractor’s business will yield the best results. Ultimately, contractors need to determine what is best for them in balancing between continued equipment maintenance or replacement in order to best serve customers with sealcoating to make their asphalt look fantastic and protect it against different forms of damage.

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through