The United States equipment rental market has grown by billions of dollars over the past couple of years — an upward trend industry experts have projected to continue. Many types of construction benefit from the use of rental equipment, and one of the most popular is bridge construction.
The United States has more than 600,000 bridges. Regardless whether the bridge is big or small, over water or a highway, made for cars or trains — the construction, inspection and maintenance of these bridges require a fleet of equipment that’s the right size and shape for the job.
Jump to Sections:
- Why Rent Equipment for Bridge Work?
- Types of Rental Equipment for Bridge Construction, Inspection and Maintenance
- Railroad Bridge Work
- Rent Bridge Work Equipment
Why Rent Equipment for Bridge Work?
It doesn’t matter if you are constructing a new bridge, renovating an old one or inspecting a pre-existing bridge — you’re going to need a variety of equipment to get the job done. Bridges come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which means if you want to have a fleet of equipment that would enable you to take on each size and shape, you’d need unlimited funds to purchase an extensive variety — and endless space to store them. Renting bridge work equipment gives you access to the correctly sized equipment you need when you need it.
The scattered location of bridges provides another advantage to renting bridge construction equipment. During bridge construction or inspection, chances are you’re probably going to travel from one project to the next — the distance may be even greater in rural areas. Unless you have several different pieces of the same equipment to work on multiple jobsites — or have a way to transport them from site to site as needed — having everything you need on site for each project is a logistical challenge that may be nearly impossible to overcome.
Renting bridge work equipment can save you time and money through equipment delivery. We can’t speak for all rental companies, but at MacAllister Rentals, we deliver rental equipment to our customers’ bridge sites. You don’t have the extra hassle of worrying about transporting bridge work equipment from one site to the next — instead, the equipment you need will be there waiting for you.
As with any construction or inspection project, it’s ideal to have the latest models of equipment for two big reasons: technology and safety. If you have a newer model, you’ve got access to more recent technology that may be able to help you maximize productivity. With a newer model, you also get the best safety features, which are important on any jobsite. When you rent bridge work equipment, you often have access to the latest and safest models — without having to worry about the initial purchase cost and the depreciation that comes with a newer model.
With more than 11 percent of the bridges in the United States classified as “structurally deficient,” the demand for bridge construction and inspection is significant — as is the need to supplement your fleet with rental equipment.
Types of Rental Equipment for Bridge Construction, Inspection and Maintenance
What is the ideal variety of equipment for bridge construction, inspection and maintenance? We’ve gathered a list that includes many of the different pieces of equipment used for this purpose. From the early stages of removing dirt for the footings to washing the bridge down when it’s complete, this is a comprehensive list of just about everything you might need to rent for bridge construction, inspection and maintenance.
The first piece is an aerial lift — a frequently used type of bridge access equipment. When you’re working on or inspecting a bridge, not all parts of the bridge are easy to access. It’s essential for bridge inspectors to be able to inspect all parts of the bridge, and often they need a boost when it comes to height — specifically when working above the bridge deck.
The two types of aerial lifts that are common as part of a bridge inspection fleet are articulated knuckle boom lifts and straight telescopic boom lifts. Both consist of a platform that rises a certain number of feet into the air. The key difference between the two is in how the platform moves. Knuckle boom lifts are more flexible, as they have joints, enabling them to be nimble on site. On the other hand, straight telescopic boom lifts can go in a straight line, without much flexibility for an angle — but providing maximum reach.
The exact type and model of aerial lift ultimately depends on the specific bridge and environment you’re working with — how much space does the aerial lift have? Smaller spaces may require a knuckle boom lift. How high do you need to be? What capacity do you need to be able to lift? Each specific model comes with reach and capacity limits. These are a few questions that can help you decide.
Vertical Masts and Hydro Platforms
While aerial lifts work well for working on and inspecting elements of the bridge above the deck, they aren’t much help when you need to work under the bridge deck. In this case, two pieces of under-bridge equipment — a vertical mast and hydro platform — make a dynamic duo to get you to the area you need to go.
The vertical mast attaches to the side of the bridge, while the hydro platform attaches to the bottom of the vertical mast and runs horizontally underneath the bridge. These two pieces of under-bridge equipment give bridge workers and inspectors access to the underside of the deck of the bridge — if the bridge is over water, or another landscape, this may be a rarely seen part of the bridge.
Both bridge repairs and inspections rely on these pieces of under-bridge equipment to give them the ability to get a detailed look — or perform repair work on — the substructure. While some bridge locations may be more accessible from a road below, many look to these pieces of equipment to enable them to get the job done.
One of the best examples of technology in construction is the use of drones. They are especially valuable as a piece of bridge inspection equipment. While their use is still limited at this point, the implications of this innovative tool could be game-changing.
Thousands of bridges require inspection each year — at the same time, many that aren’t up for inspection may still need repairs. It can be tough to identify all the necessary bridge work on a deadline, as traveling to various bridge sites takes time. And, unless you’re doing a formal inspection, you may not get a good look at the hard-to-reach areas. That is where drones come in handy.
Drones can travel to various locations, across long distances, in a timely fashion. They can also fly underneath and around bridges to look at areas that are otherwise tough for people to view at a glance. Their photo and video capabilities can give bridge inspectors a thorough look at several bridges and their tough-to-access areas.
It’s important to note that, while the future for drones in bridge inspection looks promising, they are not a replacement for detailed, hands-on inspections. However, their ease of use may be a great way for engineers to get a look at more bridges more frequently, so they can continue to keep a closer eye on aging bridges across the country.
Whether you’re constructing a new bridge, or doing maintenance work on a pre-existing one, you’re going to be moving some large materials. A few pieces of bridge work equipment can help get the job done — one of which is a telehandler.
These pieces of equipment take the job of a forklift and amplify it for a bridge project. Instead of having the limited up-and-down motion of a forklift, a telehandler gives you an extended reach and a greater capacity. Many of the same attachments you’d find on a forklift are available for a telehandler — they’re just much bigger.
Bridge inspectors and workers can combine telehandlers with a platform to get to a specific point of the bridge they need to access — however, they are not as adjustable as boom lifts. Therefore, telehandlers are mostly for moving materials.
While different types of bridges come with different structures, one thing they all have in common is the fact that they rely heavily on a foundation, known as a substructure. Substructures aren’t all the same — for example, longer bridges have piers for additional support, and different types of bridges may use different materials. Despite the differences, many of their excavating needs are the same.
When you’re moving from design to construction of a new bridge, one of the first pieces of bridge construction equipment you’ll need will be an excavator. Just like the foundation for a building, bridges have substructures — footings, abutments and piers. But before construction workers can put any of those in place, they must remove dirt, rock and other materials from the area that will become the base of the bridge.
Once they have removed excess soil and other materials, they also often need to dig trenches to make way for the substructures of the bridge. Workers may use an excavator in combination with drilling and blasting to remove materials underwater.
Once workers have removed excess dirt, skid loaders play an essential role in getting the bridge site in order. At this point in the bridge construction process, there are holes and piles of dirt and rock — all to accommodate the substructure of the bridge. But the dirt moving isn’t over — at this point, skid loaders take over to help move the dirt into its appropriate place.
Once the ground is ready and the abutments begin going into place, backfill is necessary to securing them. Skid loaders are on site and able to move the backfill — and any other dirt and rocks — where it needs to go and then ensure the area is level.
A backhoe is another piece of bridge construction equipment that is essential in creating a strong foundation for a bridge. Like excavators, they can dig holes and trenches for the abutments and piers of the bridge. Much like skid loaders, they can move dirt and rock and backfill holes as needed on site.
Once the substructure of the bridge is in place, cranes serve as bridge work equipment to get the substructure and superstructure of the bridge in place. Frequently, that involves setting beams and culverts in bridge construction. It may also mean serving as a piece of bridge access equipment, placing concrete in areas trucks can’t reach — like tall bridge piers, for example.
Cranes also may play a role in getting shoring in place to provide temporary support while other parts of the bridge are under construction. Shoring isn’t solely for bridge building, since it can also provide temporary bridge support during repairs. Cranes are an all-around piece of bridge maintenance equipment.
In many longer bridges, joints at the piers give room for the structure to expand and contract with temperature. When the joints are open due to contraction, dirt, debris and leaves can accumulate in those areas. The debris could be a result of construction, which inspectors may discover while conducting routine maintenance.
To protect the bridge from having any of this debris interfere with the function of the joint, an air compressor is an excellent tool to get rid of the debris, cleaning the joints of the bridge.
Bridge constructions, inspections and maintenance all require a variety of tools that need electricity. Having generators on site gives you the power you need to keep the tools running. When you’re considering which generator to use, it’s important to consider how much you’re going to need to move it. Portable generators can provide added convenience if tools are necessary at several different points on site.
Many projects also have a construction trailer that serves as a temporary office. The trailer needs electricity, too. Remember — whether you’re choosing a generator to power your tools or your temporary office, it’s important to make sure you select one that’s the appropriate size for what you need and, ideally, in peak condition. Purchasing a larger generator can cost you extra money in energy efficiency.
Concrete is a versatile material in the construction of many bridges — from the foundation and substructure to the superstructure. However, not all concrete comes in exactly the right size and shape. For example, many bridge decks are concrete, as are many of the approach slabs — that is the concrete that’s in place just before the bridge on either side. In both cases, bridge construction workers usually need to cut these slabs of concrete to fit the deck and the roadway leading up to the bridge deck.
But concrete saws also come in handy for bridge maintenance and replacement work. When the deck of a bridge needs to be removed, a concrete saw cuts through the concrete slabs, creating pieces that are easier to move off-site. Therefore, regardless of what type of bridge project you have to do, it’s no surprise concrete saws are an essential piece of many construction companies’ bridgework equipment.
Throughout the bridge construction process, a lot of dirt, debris and dust accumulate on the structure. After the construction crew has completed their work, pressure washers help them clean up. For example, once they have placed the deck of the bridge, pressure washers remove debris and clean the surface to prepare it for use.
Welders double as both bridge construction equipment and bridge repair equipment. During bridge construction, steel piles often provide extra support and stability for the foundation. At times, workers need to extend these piles to provide the maximum amount of support. In these cases, having a welder fuse two or more piles together end to end to create a single, long pile is a big help.
In bridge repair work, it’s common for steel parts of the bridge to deteriorate over time. If inspectors discover deterioration, welding may be able to extend the life of the bridge. In many cases, welders can connect a piece of steel to the part the bridge that is deteriorating to provide reinforced support. If you’re going to need to use the welder in several locations on site, make sure you consider that when choosing a specific model.
Construction crews often work throughout the night to keep a project on track. In this case, several light towers are necessary to increase visibility on site. Safety is a concern on site all the time, but at night under reduced-visibility conditions, it is especially important to ensure you have the right amount of light towers to avoid accidents and provide maximum worker visibility.
Light towers aren’t solely for night construction work — you may also need them if parts of the bridge construction or repair aren’t well-lit and could benefit from the additional light.
Railroad Bridge Work
Any combination of these pieces of equipment may also be helpful for railroad bridge work. While railroad bridges fulfill different specifications — holding tracks and trains, rather than a roadway with traffic — their construction, inspection and maintenance process involves many of the same pieces of equipment. However, additional specialized rail equipment ensures proper construction and placement of the railroad tracks.
Specialized rail equipment may also be necessary for railroad bridge maintenance, as not all construction equipment can travel on railroad tracks. Road-rail equipment — often called “hi-rail gear” — may be necessary for some of this work.
MacAllister Railroad Machinery has a fleet of specialized rail equipment available for rent. If you’re considering rental equipment for an upcoming railroad bridge construction, inspection or maintenance project, contact us to learn more about our rental inventory that could help you get the job done.
Rent Bridge Work Equipment
If you’re in Michigan or Indiana, in need of bridge construction equipment or bridge inspection equipment and interested in renting equipment, MacAllister Rentals has several locations throughout both states and an extensive rental inventory to support your fleet. Regardless of whether your need is short-term, long-term or an emergency backup, we can help you get the job done. If you know exactly what piece of equipment you need, request a rental quote from us online. Not sure exactly what you need? Contact us, and we can help you decide on a piece of bridge work equipment to get the job done efficiently.