Applications and Innovations: Spreading gravel
The heights of the skids on each side also adjust, up to 15 inches. Mullett figures in an additional amount for compaction, depending on the type of aggregate used.
By adjusting the slotted blade edge up or down the attachment can achieve up to a 3-½-percent crown.
AggreScreed’s width limits it to being used for uncompacted gravel and light materials. One contractor approached Mullett about using it for a 1-inch dirt pass. “I think it would work for that small of a pass, but it’s not for pushing dirt,” he says.
Mullett says between the decrease of labor and the accuracy of gravel placement, the attachment could be paid for after placing 10 miles of road. “At $12 to $14 a ton, the savings in gravel costs alone can make a big difference,” he says. In addition to truck drivers, the operation requires two people – the dozer operator and someone to operate an auxiliary machine to reposition any misplaced gravel.
A natural add-on will be GPS and laser, which Mullett plans to offer in the near future. Such add-ons, however, will add significantly to AggreScreed’s anticipated $65,000 cost.
Two other models are also in the planning stages, one that would adjust from 10 to 15 feet wide, and a fixed blade for skid steers. “We see the skid steer product used for creating trails or large shoulders,” Mullett says. And he envisions a trailer capable of hauling the 6,000-pound attachment at full width, so it won’t have to be retracted for transport.
Mullett’s anxious to see what uses other contractors can make of the AggreScreed. “Let anyone use his or her imagination when it comes to applications,” he says. “Right now, it’s for laying gravel, but who knows what someone might come up with? v
Manufacturing was not Mullett’s initial goal. He first asked the manufacturer of the snowplow he had converted into the first AggreScreed prototype if the company had any interest in the idea. It said no. He also searched for any similar products, and failed to find any. He finally came to the conclusion it would be best to take the product to market himself. That route would require help.
Mullett applied for the AggreScreed patent more than four years ago, a process full of delays and discouragement. This past November, however, the U.S. Patent Office told him his patent had been approved.
Mullett used the patent process time to not only improve his product but also line up how he would get the attachment to market, knowing the effort would require talents outside of his skill set. About two years ago, a mutual friend introduced him to Tim Lorenzen, now TerraTec Industries’ chief operating officer. Mullet calls Lorenzen’s background in manufacturing and sales a natural for his new company. Together, they have lined up an industrial designer, fabrication shops, and worked with a local marketing firm to create the company and product name, logo, Website and promotional materials.
One of their key marketing pieces will be a DVD showing the attachment in action. “Once contractors can see what it does, they’ll understand,” Mullett says.
For more information, go to www.terratecind.com.
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