Steep-slope tear-offs can be messy and expensive, even on smaller projects. So the removal of 1,800 squares of asphalt shingles on the 411-unit Highlands atcasse14 Plaza Square apartment complex in New Brunswick, N.J., was difficult at best.

Property manager Riverside Residential Group wisely chose All County Exteriors (ACX) of Lakewood — one of New Jersey’s largest steep-slope roofing contractors — to handle the demanding tear-off project.

ACX was given less than three months to remove the eight-year-old asphalt shingles and replace the entire roof system. However, it was the logistics of the project that presented ACX with its biggest challenges.

The 70-foot apartment complex is in a high-traffic area and constructed close to the surrounding streets — two of which are state highways. ACX and the City of New Brunswick had to close the streets to all traffic on three separate occasions.

Besides delivery issues, the roofing debris from the tear-off had to be brought to the center courtyard of the complex for collection. Dump truck access to the courtyard was denied because an underground parking garage limited the live load in the courtyard to 8,000 pounds.

This weight limitation would have forced ACX to hire 10 additional laborers to move tear-off materials in wheel barrows to a dumpster at the entrance to the courtyard, putting the project’s budget and deadline in jeopardy.

To tackle this problem and increase jobsite efficiency, ACX rented two Equipter RB4000 material handling buggies.

“We rented two Equipters as a precaution,” said Ross Marzarella, ACX’s vice president of Operations/Principal. “We completed the roof on time using only one Equipter. It saved us about $100,000 in additional labor costs.”

The Equipter can hold four cubic yards of materials weighing up to 4,000 pounds. It was driven to each tear-off trash chute, filled, and then emptied in a dumpster outside the courtyard. Marzarella estimates that the debris filled about 25 dumpsters.

“We had six trash chutes installed on the scaffolding around the courtyard,” said Marzarella. “The furthest was approximately 300 feet away from the dumpster, so the Equipter really helped logistically. We positioned it under the trash chutes to catch the debris. It was a safe and efficient process.”

ACX found other uses for the Equipter. The company had a storage trailer parked on the street, and the Equipter was used to transport materials to work sites that were hard to reach.

The Equipter provided other benefits besides labor savings, according to Marzarella. The property manager and tenants benefitted from minimal construction traffic in their courtyard, and worker fatigue was considerably less when using the Equipter. “The ‘partnership’ aspect of this project was paramount,” added Marzarella. “It started with the property manager and trickled right down to the use of the Equipter.”

The first Equipters went out for sale in 2005. By the beginning of 2012, units were being operated in more than 35 states, including Hawaii and Canada.

“We had learned about the Equipter through trade publications and direct mail before bidding this job,” said Marzarella. “The manufacturer (New Heights LLC) referred us to a company for the rentals. It just worked out great for us.”

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