Dynapacs asphalt roller has received honorable mention in the Excellent Swedish Design awards. Formbolaget, a relatively young design firm in Stockholm, carried out this excellent example of redesign that is, with an unconditional approach to an existing product, improving a number of functions, ergonomic design, and aesthetic appearance.
Formbolaget was founded by three fellow-graduates from the Industrial Design Department of the National College of Art, Craft and Design in 1989: Eva-Lena Bäckström, Teo Enlund and Hans Gustafsson.
Jonas Fritzdorf, who graduated from the College in 1990, was hired that year, and Oliver Schmidt joined the firm immediately after graduation.
Around 1990 Sweden was facing a slump. Clients had to be found. Teo Enlund went to the Industrial Expo in the town of Ljungby, where he got in touch with Dynapac Heavy that is, Svedala Compaction in the town of Karlskrona, one of the worlds oldest manufacturers of rollers.
The company need to further develop its asphalt rollers in the 712 ton class. They were called MARO, an abbreviation for Medium Asphalt Roller. Svedala Compaction had contacted three firms but Formbolagets designers were those who could best visualize the companys ideas. By placing the engine behind the cab instead of in front, they gave the driver much better visibility.
The so-called dynamic roller with which they were to work compacts asphalt with the help of vibrations a more effective way. The vehicle has two modules joined by an articulated joint. The steering system, with an articulated joint and steerable rear drum, is unique. It allows side displacement of the drums by up to 50 cm.
Versatility and visibility are immensely important. Just imagine carrying out a precision job to the millimeter with a tool that weighs 712 tons!
The rear module has an engine and water tank that continuously sprinkles the rear drum so that it does not start picking up the asphalt. The driver must have good visibility to the rear so that he can see if the sprinkler system is working. The thin waist designed by Formbolaget gives a much better view of the drum than before. (The engine is located cross-ways on the rear module, behind the articulated joint.)
Formbolaget also provided the cab with two slits at the bottom so that the driver can check the surface of the front drum to see that its sprinkler is also working. The asymmetric design of the cab also makes visibility easier. The drivers seat is placed like a "sled" and can quickly and easily be moved sideways. The seat can be turned more than 180 degrees and the driver no longer needs to twist around uncomfortably.
Design work started in 1992 and the ergonomic report came in 1993. A year later the basic series was ready and in 1996 the new product program was presented, with ten different versions in three weight classes.
A company that exports around the world gains, in time, insight into cultural differences. Different countries make different demands. For that reason Svedala Compaction has designed a basic version which can then be added to according to various needs and wishes. All versions have a crash bar which protects the driver if the vehicle should roll over. The crash bar is built in to the model with a cab.
The small model weighs 7 tons, the big one 12 much more than an adult elephant (three tons). If such a colossus is to move with elegance and precision, it needs the same mobility in its "body" as an elephant. An asphalt roller must have a versatile, elegant and intelligent design. Svedala Compactions campaign for its new cab, which radically reduces the load on the back and neck, is also: "More brain, less pain!".
By Kerstin Wickman