Padfoot Rollers and Soil Compactors: Who Makes the Best One?
Even though smooth and padfoot rollers across different brands have the same base functionality, each manufacturer's models have unique features that improve efficiency and can make them a preference for different operators and job sites.
In this guide, we'll focus on breaking down the top eight single-drum soil compactor brands and their differentiating features.
What are Rollers?
Rollers are construction equipment that compresses soil, asphalt, and other cohesive and non-cohesive materials. They resemble wheel loaders from afar, but their front wheels are replaced with rotating metal cylinders. These soil compactors increase the load-bearing capacity of the earth below, as more compression allows the soil to support more weight.
The drums on rollers and compactors come in two styles and designs: smooth or padfoot. Smooth drum rollers flatten granular, non-cohesive soils like sand and gravel. Padfoot drums, also known as sheepsfoot drums, have little rectangular knobs attached to the drum. The studded design helps compress sticky, semi-cohesive soils like silt or clay.
Most road rollers have scrapers, which clear excess material off the drum's surface. This prevents it from sticking to the drum and unevenly compacting the earth below. These compactors are often used to compact the subbases of driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, industrial construction sites, roads, interstates, and more. They are commonly used machines during the site preparation stage.
Padfoot and Smooth Roller Brands
The most popular manufacturers and soil compactor brands in North America include BOMAG, Hamm, Ammann, Sakai America, Caterpillar, CASE, Volvo, and Wacker Neuson. They are industry leaders in roller equipment manufacturing, and each has unique features that will ensure quality compaction on-site.
As an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of rollers and compacting equipment, BOMAG offers a massive product fleet equipped to handle specialized jobs. In the single drum roller category alone BOMAG has 98 rollers, offered with smooth and padfoot drums, that weigh between 7,275 and 57,982 lbs.
As experts in compaction, BOMAG models include features that facilitate better performance. They've coined the phrase "one switch, one function" as the majority of BOMAG rollers are easily operated in this manner. This approach makes them easy to use and more rental-friendly.
BOMAG Economizer compaction technology analyzes soil and asphalt, then displays its findings on-screen. Within the cabin, the operator can see the degree of compaction and adjust their approach accordingly, preventing excess passes.
BOMAG Telematic is another program included in BOMAG compactors. The program generates a report on each machine's fuel consumption, idle times, and usage data. BOMAG models also use Ecomode speed controls, which save up to 30% of fuel consumption.
Overall, BOMAG's specialty features and roller expertise make them great options for all of your compaction needs.
Owned by the Wirtgen Group, a John Deere company, Hamm is another roller specialist. Their offerings include soil compactors, trench rollers, pneumatic tire rollers, and tandem rollers. These comprise over 200 models that range from 3,000 to 50,000 lbs.
Hamm has 37 soil compactors in their Series HC and Compact Lines. With sizeable drum widths ranging from 54 to 84.25 inches, Hamm models can compress large areas of dirt within one pass.
All models in both categories have three-point articulation. The three-point system includes one more linkage than the standard two-point linkage. This results in better steering capabilities, enhanced operational safety, and navigation. They're an ideal choice for areas that require compaction in tighter spaces.
Many Hamm rollers include Easy Drive and Hammtronic systems. Easy Drive is a branded system that standardizes the operator concept between many Hamm roller and compactor models. Hammtronics is another branded program found on these models. It monitors and regulates machine functions, including breaking, fuel consumption, and torque distribution along the drum and back wheels.
In addition to asphalt and concrete plant services, Ammann manufactures reliable soil and asphalt compactors. They offer 15 single drum rollers with either smooth or padfoot drums, all of which use one of Ammann's industry leader smart compaction systems: ACEforce and ACEpro.
Both versions identify patches of earth or asphalt that require additional compaction. The ACEpro has more functionality, including automatically adjusting vibration parameters, measuring material stiffness, and GPS System integration.
Ammann's diesel-burning machines can run on HVO biofuel. Made from hydrotreated vegetable oil, HVO reduces carbon emissions by up to 90%. Eight of the above-mentioned models have 83.9-inch drum widths, making them a great choice for larger job sites.
Sakai America is another roller specialty manufacturer. They offer eight single-drum soil rollers sorted into the 200, 400, and 500 series.
A feature unique to some Sakai American asphalt rollers is their Guardman Safety Auto Brake Assist System. Guardman uses either millimeter radar or 3D-LiDAR to identify objects, people, and equipment within its path. If anything is found in close proximity behind the roller, the machine will automatically brake to avoid a collision.
Sakai America's soil compactor rollers have many interesting features as well, including manual traction control that allows for compaction in both directions, raised exhaust pipes suitable for work in trenches, and halogen work light kits.
Even though Caterpillar produces multiple types of equipment, they also offer 46 roller models that service different applications. They have two static and 19 vibratory soil compactors. The 815 and 825K are four-wheel drive static soil compactors with padfoot drums. They're notably powerful with 249 and 405 HP, respectively.
CAT's 19 vibratory rollers are fit for multiple soil and job types. The smooth drum models use a Compaction Meter Value (CMV) monitoring system. The CMV reveals sections of the earth that require further compaction. It also identifies rocks and other objects buried beneath the ground and advises whether additional moisture will improve compaction.
CAT's exclusive Machine Drive Power (MDP) software measures the resistance generated when rolling to measure how stiff soil is. MDP is only found on smooth and padfoot drum B-Series models.
Overall, CAT soil compactors are suitable for multiple projects, big and small.
CASE is one of the most popular compaction brands for soil, asphalt, and pneumatic rollers. Their rollers are well known for gradeability. Due to the automatic traction control installed on CASE rollers, the single drum models can compact on sites with gradients up to 67%.
CASE has five single-drum soil compactors, four of which have a padfoot drum. The V207E, SV211E, SV213E, and SV217E have some of the industry's best centrifugal force on soil compactors.
Centrifugal force is the force imposed on an object that's rotating. Stronger centrifugal force implies stronger compaction capabilities. Their largest model, the SV217E, reaches a maximum of 74,861 lbs. of centrifugal force and has 58% gradeability.
If your job site requires heavy-duty power and compaction on uneven terrain, CASE roller compactors are a good fit.
Volvo offers 17 roller models to choose from. Their B-Series soil compactors come with a drum control system. The system allows for operation on five frequencies, multiple amplitudes, and auto vibration.
On all three compactors, the operator can attach a padfoot shell to the standard smooth drum, which coverts the machine into a padfoot/ sheepsfoot roller. The "two in one" approach makes Volvo rollers perfect for compacting multiple materials.
Low noise levels, a tilting operator platform, and engine hoods that operate on hinges are unique features of Volvo rollers that improve operational efficiency.
The final smooth and padfoot compactor brand to consider is Wacker Neuson. They categorize their models into single-drum soil compactors, tandem rollers, and remote trench rollers.
There are three single-drummed Wacker Neuson soil compactors, which are designed to cover large compaction areas. Each model has a padfoot drum, ensuring that they're well-equipped to handle cohesive soils. Compact, open work platforms enable 360° visibility for the operator and better navigation.
Finding the Best Soil Compactor
Whether you're looking for excellent gradeability, peak centrifugal force, or high-performing compaction software, at least one of the above-mentioned brands has the right compactor for you. We hope this guide has helped break down the most important features for BOMAG, Hamm, Ammann, Sakai America, Caterpillar, CASE, Volvo, and Wacker Neuson construction rollers.
For your next compaction project, check out DOZR's rental equipment marketplace for a wide selection of padfoot and smooth soil compactor rentals!