What contractors should look for when buying a concrete slipform paver

Contractors in the market for a concrete slipform paver with a 20- to 53-foot maximum width have a lot to consider beyond how much it’s going to set them back financially.

“Far too often contractors ask only the price of the machine,” says Stephen Bullock, president of Power Curbers Companies. “Total cost of ownership – which includes parts and service, transport and resale value – is a more important, relevant question.”

Contractors also should have clear expectations of what they need and let the dealer know those requirements, so they can get the right model, size and attachments, says Tim Nash, director of concrete products for Wirtgen America.

“I would also encourage equipment buyers to focus attention on the key areas of a slipform paver,” he says. That includes mold and frame design, material flow concept, how quickly paving widths can be changed and whether the paver is compatible with 3D control and which suppliers are certified for the machine.

Roger Bockes, founder and CEO of Heavy Equipment Manufacturing, also recommends focusing on durability and dependability.

“You want a machine that’s going to last and be able to perform in all types of conditions, without worrying that the machine will break down in the field, and you are forced to wait on a manufacturer’s technician for repairs,” Bockes says. “Another factor that you definitely want to consider when looking at different concrete paving equipment is the ease of operation and field maintenance.”

What contractors want

Contractors’ preferences for specific paver features are varied, ranging from basic to high-tech, but certain themes typically come up in dealer discussions.

Stringless 3D paving is one of the top interests, due to the cost-savings.

“Stringless controls have gone from cutting-edge to common in recent years,” says Bullock. “Eliminating stringline saves labor and opens up the jobsite to allow more room for equipment mobility.”

But the high cost of the equipment gives many contractors pause.

“Some are interested in stringless paving and are ready for it,” Bockes says, “but the majority want to know if they can add it at a later date without having to spend the money for the systems now.”

The difficulty in hiring experienced operators is also influencing buying decisions.

“All customers want to know about the ease of width changes and the level of experience and expertise required to operate the paving equipment,” Bockes says.

“Given the limited supply of skilled labor in our industry,” Bullock adds, “finding a machine that’s simple to set up and run is a must for most contractors.”

Manufacturers of 20- to 53-foot-maximum-width concrete slipform pavers highlight some of their most popular models.

Wirtgen SP 64i

Nash names Wirtgen’s SP 64i as the company’s most popular inset concrete slipform paver.

At 12 to 25 feet, the SP 64i’s “paving footprint hits the majority of the work in the market,” he says.

He says contractors also like that it’s a multi-application machine – able to perform barrier, curb and mainline paving – that can reach out to 25 feet.

It features the lowest fuel consumption available with its Eco Mode, he says. It also can be transitioned quickly from paving mode to transport mode and back. For transport, the mold or super smoother does not have to be removed, which means no need for additional trucks or lifting equipment to haul the paver and less work to make the move.

Intelligent steering and control systems are designed to provide smooth operation and precision. The machine’s interface is compatible with 3D control systems from leading aftermarket suppliers.

Other features include 90-degree track turn, dual hydraulic telescoping frame, standard front spreading plow, hydraulic edge slump adjustment and an auto-lift mold feature that mitigates stop/start bumps.

Power Paver SF-1700

“Our SF-1700 is compact and simple but robust and equipped with the latest technology, including 3D stringless controls,” Bullock says.

It is designed for half-width paving and roads up to 24 feet wide. It has a minimum paving width of 10 feet.

Contractors can choose from a 160-horsepower Tier 3 or 165-horsepower Tier 4 Final Cummins engine. It has two 12-foot heavy-duty track systems with 12-inch-wide steel track pads. Track components have sealed links and lifetime lubricated rollers.

Paving speeds are 0 to 30 feet per minute, and travel speeds are 0 to 60 feet per minute.

The paver can be towed without having to be disassembled, and it can be easily loaded and unloaded with side ramps.

The SF-1700 features a low-profile design for operator visibility to the front and rear, with no main frame to block the view. The operator can see into the vibration chamber, to the back of the paving pan, and to the finished product, the company says.

It needs only 26 inches of side clearance, allowing it to pave close to obstacles.

HEM SFP 8-15, SFP 12-27

Bockes says HEM’s SFP 8-15 and SFP 12-27 are nearly equal in popularity.

The SFP 8-15 can pave 8-foot-wide bike paths and trails, as well as perform street and highway paving up to 26 feet wide with an extension kit. He recommends the paver for companies new to slipform paving or those working on small to mid-range projects, because of its versatility.

The SFP 12-27 can perform single-lane paving as well as jobs up to 35 feet wide. “This machine, with its wide range of paving widths, has been popular with contractors for over two decades,” Bockes says, “and can be equipped with many options for concrete delivery, dowel bar insertion, custom curb applications and stringless capabilities at the time of purchase or later, depending upon the needs of the contractor.”

He adds that HEM’s pavers do not require a heavily trained technician to operate them. “Our machines are intuitive, easy to understand, and they’re built with rock-solid durability.” And they all use common parts, “so the customer is not held to using proprietary parts when you need them.”


GOMACO’s GP4 paver can pave up to 40 feet wide and at varying lower widths. It is available in two- and four-track versions.

Its roller frame has dual-telescoping capabilities of up to 7 feet on each side. The company says it easily turns radii with smart leg positioning and smart track rotation. It can be switched to transport mode by driving the legs around to the transport position.

The paver is compatible with GOMACO’s G+ control system, designed to provide quiet running technology and load-sensed hydraulics. G+ Connect enables interface with the company’s smart accessories and guidance system.

For a detailed, comprehensive view of available concrete slipform pavers, as well as other major types of construction equipment, check out Equipment World’s 2019-2020 Spec Guide & Yearbook. You can compare machine specs online by clicking here. To view a digital copy of the print version of this guide, go to http://bit.ly/digitalEWspecs.