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Roads in south-eastern France and those on the west coast of Spain share a common challenge often faced by road construction crews around Europe: extremely tight working conditions. Such conditions create unique construction demands that can affect traffic flow, the preservation of historic structures and, even the ability to resurface these narrow roads that, in some cases, have been around for centuries. Add to these challenging working conditions, the mountainous terrain found in the Alpine regions of south-eastern France—including hairpin curves and switchbacks—and, contractors are often required to deal with a whole host of logistical concerns that go way beyond simple mat smoothness and densities.

Fortunately, Caterpillar® offers the AP655D Track-type Paver with model AS4251C screed, a versatile machine solution that easily handles the paving challenges of some of the most narrow jobsite situations. The 19,165 kg AP655D (18-19 ton major class size for tracked pavers) excels in a wide range of applications, with the help of two innovative track solutions: the Mobil-trac™ (MTS rubber track)and steel track undercarriages. Each track option is fully bogied with an automatic hydraulic track tensioning system, ensuring greater productivity and superior paving quality.

Crews across Europe, Africa and the Middle East are finding this is one paver solution that handles a demanding highway reconstruction job, or a commercial-sized parking lot project, as adeptly as it handles the tightest Alpine switchback. Its features—standard 2.55 m paving width (up to 5 m with hydraulic extensions, or to 8 m with mechanical extensions), productivity, short turning radius, and excellent maneuverability—are coupled with proven technologies that produce consistent, high-quality mats. This allows crews to focus more on jobsite challenges, than machine operation.

In the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France, a new Cat®AP655D MTS was recently paving its way along a narrow thoroughfare, as crews worked carefully along a winding mountain road. French contractor Braja was demonstrating an AP655D along a 7,1 km stretch of roadway between Villepredrix and Léoux—where the elevation changed from 450 m to 750 m. In this first application, it took crews about 45 minutes to lay 250 tons of a bituminous concrete mixture. The very next day, the paver was put back to work along a similar path, this time paving 8 km of roadway in a machine demo from Verclause to Lemps—along an altitude rise of some 200-plus meters, under a similar timeframe.

Despite the inherent jobsite challenges of any mountainous terrain, Braja crews say the AP655D handled the distances about three times more quickly than steel chain paver finishers they’ve used in the past. What’s more, they especially appreciated the paver’s excellent maneuverability along the roadway’s many hairpin curves. And, crews noted that the AP655D’s Mobil-trac undercarriage provided enhanced “security”—more stability across uneven surfaces. Local Cat dealer Bergerat Monnoyeur is not surprised to see the AP655D perform so well in various terrains and under these challenging conditions.

Pierre Boully, Bergerat Monnoyeur’s Paving Product specialist, is quick to point out that because of the sharp mountainous turns and tight turning radius required for this project, it was impossible to transfer the paver to the jobsite on a lorry. Braja selected the undercarriage option of their new AP655D wisely. Boully explains that despite the rigorous climb, “The AP655D was easily able to ascend the mountain road on its own thanks to its high travel speeds and Mobil-trac System. It easily covered the required distance of 5 km, in one hour. This illustrates the versatility of its rubber-track undercarriage…as a result, the AP655D is able to match the high transfer speeds and maneuverability of most wheeled pavers.”

Over 1,500 km away, Oviga, a Spanish road construction contractor and valued customer of local Cat dealer, Finanzauto, found the Cat® AP655D steel track paver to be a perfect fit for another challenging road construction project in western Spain. Upon delivery, the team recently put their new AP655D through its paces. In its inaugural application, the paver was tasked to pave a worn-out stretch of village road near Palas de Rei, about 70 km east of Santiago de Compostela. Typically, when customers take delivery of a new paver, operators and crews dedicate some time to commissioning—start-up training that thoroughly reviews proper controls and machine functions. In this case, Oviga was anxious to start the project and get the AP655D right into the field. Therefore, they opted for “on-the-job” training.

Thanks to the AP655D’s intuitive operations, and the help of Cat Commissioning Engineer Davide Dalla and dealer Finanzauto, Oviga crews quickly became proficient in the paver’s operation. With no prior experience with the paver, they completed the project to specification, on time and with complete satisfaction. According to those that participated, Oviga and its operators were “more than pleased with the working speed and quality of the final mat surface,” and the paver’s overall performance.

Contractors featured here, from both the mountainous regions of south-eastern France and the western coast of Spain have shown that both undercarriage options of the AP655D provide exceptional traction and versatility. And, dealers across several territories are hearing similar accolades from additional units already employed in the field across a wide array of terrains. Bottom line: the AP655D delivers a smooth, dependable ride, and unsurpassed productivity.

At both jobsites, crews were extremely pleased with the AP655D’s performance and ease of operation. French contractor Braja also cited the paver’s exceptional visibility, and it was noted that they would fully expect the paver to play an important role for any road construction firm well into the future.

Innovative Features of the Cat® AP655D Track-type Paver

The new AP655D with model AS4251C screed offers contractors a versatile high-productive paver solution, meeting a variety of regional needs across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. With an operating weight of 19,165 kg, it competes in the 18-19 ton major class size. It is one of the largest and most productive asphalt pavers in the Cat® paver line.

Its versatility lies in the AP655D’s two proven undercarriage systems, the Mobil-trac™ System (MTS rubber track undercarriage) or steel track undercarriage configurations. Each allows the paver to easily handle surface irregularities, for even the most rigorous jobsite environment (wet or dry!)—while producing exceptional machine stability, mobility and unsurpassed mat smoothness.

Its Cat C6.6 turbocharged 6-cylinder diesel engine delivers ample power (129 kw) and features proven ACERT™ Technology that incorporates a series of innovations working at the point of combustion to optimize engine performance. And, it meets European Stage IIIA engine emissions regulations for off-road applications.

Employing one of the most proven material handling systems in the industry, the AP655D delivers precise material control and unsurpassed paving results. Its Advisor Monitoring System (AMS) offers an intuitive interface, which allows operators to easily maintain optimal machine performance. A dual swing-out operator’s platform delivers ergonomic comfort, control and precise visibility. Serviceability and reliability are engineered from day one.

The AP655D is well-suited for motorways, highways, industrial sites, parking lots, urban and rural roads, city streets, residential streets and other production-sized paving jobs.