Seat Rotation Offers Roller Operator Safety, Comfort
BY AsphaltPro Staff
Asphalt roller operators originally had no choice but to operate their equipment while facing forward. Over the years, original equipment manufacturers have made adjustments to allow a 90-degree angle, swivel and side-to-side movement on some compaction machines. A new feature optional on all sixth-generation rollers from Dynapac North America, Fort Mill, South Carolina, goes further.
“When an operator sits at 90 degrees, they can see what’s in front of and behind the machine and the direction they are facing,” said Vijay Palanisamy, Dynapac’s director of product marketing and communications. Whether their back is to traffic, their crew or job site obstructions such as walls, Palanisamy added, “everything behind them is in their blind spot.”
With Dynapac’s 255-degree seat rotation feature, the operator can see what’s in front of the machine, to the left and right, and partially behind the machine. “With 255-degree seat rotation, there is no longer a defined forward or reverse motion on the roller,” Palanisamy said. “You’re always rolling forward, and never looking back.”
The seat and accompanying operator controls rotate 255 degrees in one direction. The feature is particularly useful for night paving, he added. Despite illuminating machines and job sites as much as possible, night paving will always offer reduced visibility. Because most of the lights on rollers are located on the back and front, Palanisamy said operators will be able to more clearly see the direction they are facing–always forward.
Palanisamy said the feature also improves focus, which also contributes to safety: “Having the operator always looking forward leads to less distraction from the work they’re doing.”
There’s also the matter of comfort; driving forward means less turning, less craning, and overall better posture. “A comfortable roller tends to be more productive,” Palanisamy said. “At the end of the shift, you’ll see that in the results, from both a quality and a production standpoint.”
Part of keeping operators happy is to keep things simple. The 255-degree rotation utilizes the same type of lever operators have long used to turn 90 degrees.
For Dynapac’s forward-thinking customers who have already invested in the 255-degree rotation feature, the new rotation feature took a bit of getting used to. “It changes how the operator operates the machine, and they’ve been doing it the other way for a long time,” Palanisamy said. However, he added, “once they get used to the new feature, they haven’t wanted to go back.”
Along with the seat rotation option, the sixth-generation rollers come with a mini steering wheel that rotates along with the seat and is always to the left of the operator. “Normally, the steering wheel is in front of them and it makes it more cumbersome to get in and out,” Palanisamy said. “With the mini steering wheel, they aren’t confined by anything and there’s nothing obstructing their view.” The machine automatically senses the rotation of the seat and the joystick adjusts accordingly, so the controls remain the same facing either direction.
The 255-degree rotation feature is optional on all Dynapac sixth generation machines, with +/- 80-degree rotation as standard. Dynapac launched the feature globally on its sixth-generation rollers in 2018, but began to promote the feature in the U.S. market at the end of 2020.
“With so many other improvements in our sixth-generation rollers compared to previous models, we wanted our customers to experience those other benefits first,” Palanisamy said. Other improvements include a redesigned dashboard and control panels that aim to make operation easier and more intuitive, a completely redesigned water system with expanded operations and capabilities, and better performance and compaction characteristics. The sixth-generation rollers have also been redesigned visually, with a more “modern and forward-looking design” Palanisamy said.
Now that its sixth-generation rollers have been out for a couple of years, Palanisamy added, “the next step is to show off the benefits of 255-degree seat rotation.”