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Soil Compaction: Choosing the Right Equipment for the Job

A lot goes into preparing the foundation for a construction project. Soil compaction is one of the most crucial steps in ensuring that a construction is structurally stable. Choosing the right equipment for soil compaction will ensure efficient and cost-effective completion of your project.
Read on to learn more about soil compaction and how to select equipment that meets your specific job site needs. 

Soil Compaction Basics

In construction, soil compaction is the mechanical removal of air from between soil particles to increase soil density. Constructing atop low-density soil can result in structurally weak structures, leakages, and potentially catastrophic cracks.

Several types of tools are available for soil compaction. All of them utilize either static, impact or vibrational force to boost soil density.
Static Force 
Machines that use static force exert deadweight and downward pressure to compact soil particles. To increase or decrease compaction results, the equipment operator can add or remove some weight from the machine.

Static force is limited because the machine only compresses the upper layer of the soil, leaving subsequent layers prone to settling and destabilization.
Vibratory Force 
Machines that apply vibratory force exert both their deadweight and a downward eccentric rotational force. This vertical rotation impacts the top and lower layers of soil.

The vibrational output rapidly moves soil particles and brings them together to create a dense substrate upon which to build.
Impact Force
Impact force equipment works by introducing high energy to the ground and doing so in quick succession. It is, therefore, a better option if you are compacting large areas of soil. Contrary to what the name suggests, impact rollers are non-cylindrical and multisided. The number of sides can be three, four, or five.

Soil Compaction Equipment

No single soil compactor can perform all types of compaction jobs. The type of equipment you need will depend on factors such as soil type, size of job site, terrain, and other construction site conditions. Soil compaction machines fall into three categories - rollers, vibratory plates, and rammers.
Rollers
Rollers feature large drums to smooth and compact soil. These come as ride-on or walk-behind, which are, in turn, available as padded, smooth, or rubber-tired rollers. Rollers utilize static or vibratory force.
Consider renting:
  • Ride-on rollers if you are compacting soil on a flat and extensive surface
  • Smooth-drum vibratory rollers if the job site has granular soil
  • Padded rollers if you are working in rough terrain and want to achieve high compaction for cohesive soil
  • Remote-controlled padded rollers if you are working in confined utility trenches
A good heavy equipment rental company should be able to analyze your needs and advise you on which is best for you.
Vibratory Plates 
Vibratory plates rotate at a high frequency and feature eccentric weights to move and compact soil. Machines with smaller vibratory plates are the most common and are best suited for smaller areas with shallow soil layers.

Larger vibratory plate compactors feature two eccentric weights and can move forward and backward to ensure maximum compaction. Consider this type of compactor for use on granular or semi-cohesive soils.
Rammers 
Rammers feature a gasoline or diesel-driven engine that drives the machine into the soil. Consider renting a rammer at job sites with space constraints. Rammers deliver high-amplitude force and are suitable for job sites with cohesive soils.

Soil Compaction Equipment Considerations 

When selecting soil compaction equipment for a particular job, consider the machine's frequency and amplitude.
Frequency is the rate at which the machine jumps or the rate at which the eccentric weight rotates. It is measured in vibration per minute (vpm). Each job will require a machine with a specific frequency to ensure maximum soil compaction.

Amplitude is the distance the machine moves from its axis, either forward or backward. This movement will largely depend on the attributes of the soil at the job site.

A construction project can be a costly undertaking. Thorough ground preparation ensures that a constructed structure is safe, durable, and will provide a return on investment. 

At Bryson Crane Rental Service, LLC, we have a wide selection of well-maintained equipment for all of your construction needs. Call us today to discuss your project and to find the machinery that suits your needs.