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The Do’s and Don’ts of Compaction

by: Vijay Palanisamy, Vice President of Product Management, Dynapac
Compaction is the process of mechanically reducing the air voids in soil, aggregate, or asphalt materials. It enhances the load-bearing capacity of the material, reduces settling, and increases its durability. Proper compaction ensures uniformity and stability, preventing structural failures such as rutting, cracking, and potholes.

Compaction is an integral process in the construction and maintenance of roads, highways, parking lots, and various infrastructure projects. The compaction process plays a crucial role in ensuring the longevity, stability, and safety of these structures.

Best Practices
With the necessity for strong support to withstand heavy loads, modern construction demands a high degree of subgrade support achieved through proper compaction using suitable equipment. Recommendations include:

Understand Material Characteristics

Before compaction, assess the material type, moisture content, and compaction requirements. Different soils or asphalt require different compaction methods and equipment.

Use Dependable Compaction Equipment

Case  - CE
Your local Case Construction Equipment Inc dealer
Beauregard Equipment
Monroe Tractor

Select compaction equipment suitable for the material type and job requirements. Ensure equipment is properly maintained and operated by trained operators.

Compact Material in Lifts

Compact soil or aggregate materials in layers or lifts to achieve uniform compaction throughout the depth. Each lift should be compacted to the specified density before adding the next layer.

Monitor Compaction Density

Use compaction testing methods such as nuclear density gauges, sand cone tests, or plate load tests to verify the achieved density meets project specifications.

Adjust Compaction Effort

Adjust compaction effort based on the type of material, moisture content, and lift thickness. Avoid excessive compaction that may lead to soil degradation or over-compaction issues.

Coordinate Compaction with Paving

Coordinate compaction activities with paving operations to ensure freshly laid asphalt or concrete is properly compacted immediately after placement.

Maintain Safety Measures

Follow safety protocols when operating compaction equipment, including wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensuring a safe working environment.

Avoid Overworking Material

Refrain from overworking excessively wet soil or material, as that may lead to soil smearing and diminish compaction effectiveness.

Exercise Caution Near Structures

Be careful when compacting near existing structures or utilities to prevent settlement or damage.

Do Not Skip Compaction Testing

Ensure that compaction testing is conducted diligently throughout the construction process to prevent future settlement or pavement failure. Intelligent/continuous compaction control systems help identify weak spots in a compacted area using accelerometer-based measurements and GPS coordinates. It can be used as a quality control/assurance tool.

Prioritize Safety Over Speed

Prioritizing safety during compaction operations minimizes the risk of accidents, injuries, or compromised compaction quality.

Avoid Compaction in Poor Weather

Refrain from conducting compaction operations during adverse weather conditions, as they may compromise compaction effectiveness and safety.

Do Not Assume Uniform Compaction

Conduct frequent inspections and testing to ensure consistency in compaction quality across the project site. Use of intelligent compaction systems will help continuous measurement of compaction performance.

Ensuring Optimal Results
By following the do’s and don’ts of compaction, contractors can ensure effective compaction, leading to stable and durable infrastructure.

Understanding the material characteristics, utilizing proper equipment, conducting tests, and prioritizing safety are key to achieving optimal results. With advancements in technology and innovative techniques, these practices continue to evolve, promising more efficient, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure solutions for the future.

Wirtgen America Inc
Your local Wirtgen America dealer
United Construction & Forestry
WI Clark
Wirtgen America Inc
Your local Wirtgen America dealer
United Construction & Forestry
WI Clark
Your local Doosan Infracore Construction Equip dealer
Equipment East