Chew it up ~ smooth it out

Chew it up ~ smooth it out

Soil stabilizing made easy for warehouse build site

by Jeff Winke

The soil in central Indiana is fertile farmland. As the USDA says in its Soil Survey Manual, prime farmland “has the soil quality, growing season and moisture supply needed to produce economically sustained high yields of crops when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods, including water management.”

Unfortunately, rich, moist soil for growing corn, wheat and soybeans may not be the best base for constructing buildings. Every building from a tiny home to a large industrial facility requires a stable building pad. Ask Stabilization Services Inc. headquartered in Noblesville, IN – they know.

Located in the greater Indianapolis market, Stabilization Services has been providing soil stabilization, soil drying and full depth reclamation (FDR) to customers in central Indiana since 1993. That was the year sitework contractors and developers Ray Harvey and Tim Peterson saw a market for lime stabilization for treating the fertile agricultural land to create solid pads for building construction. The contracting company has grown and smartly adjusted to the market, economy and needs of their customers. The company has a complete fleet of soil stabilizer-reclaimers, motor graders, compactors, a smooth drum roller, water trucks and material spreader trucks. They recently acquired two new stabilizer-reclaimer machines to keep the company’s capabilities current.

“We are well established in the market as the go-to source for soil conditioning work and site prep,” stated Greg Brummet, project manager with Stabilization Services. “We complete more than 100 jobs per year and much of our work is similar in scope.” A recently completed project was a building pad and parking lot for the Peterson Company, an Indianapolis-based commercial construction and property maintenance firm.

The MC-1 Speculative Warehouse project is located on a 30-acre site in the unincorporated community of Mount Comfort, IN (thus the MC acronym). The site has easy access to I-70, which is a major reason for the Peterson Company’s location.

The warehouse building pad is 368,000 square feet and the surrounding parking lot is 400,000 square feet. Stabilization Services completed its work on the building slab in three days and will work on the parking lot in the spring of 2019.

“When we arrived on the site the earthworks company was placing the final two lifts on the pad in mid-December trying to complete the pad before winter,” Brummet said. “We were able to immediately follow with one of our Roadtec SX-6e stabilizer-reclaimers. The SX-6e has the power and ground speed to get the job done quickly with just the one machine.”

Using the SX-6e, Stabilization Services added approximately 1,200 tons of lime kiln dust to the building pad.

“We needed to dry out the site by chewing up the soil and adding the lime, which binds with the clay in the soil,” said Brummet. “The goal was to create a stable building pad before winter weather hit, so that vertical construction could begin.”

In terms of volumes of soil conditioned, the building pad had 15,800 cubic yards, and the contractor anticipates the parking lot will have 17,200 cubic yards that will require 1,400 tons of lime kiln dust for its conditioning. A GPS rover was used for layout purposes to ensure uniform material placement.

Stabilization Services purchased the first of its two Roadtec SX-6e stabilizer-reclaimers about two seasons ago, after research and testing a couple of competitive machines.

“Our operators liked the way the Roadtec performed best,” Brummet stated. “There are also visibility and ease of operation advantages, like seats that swing way out beyond the machine, side view mirrors, large windows and even a backup camera system like you have in new cars.”

The mid-size SX-6e weighs 83,480 lbs. (37,865 kg) and features a 6-cylinder 675 hp (503 kW) diesel engine that provides power to the rotor through a direct drum drive. The machine is capable of cutting up to 20 inches (508mm) deep and 100 inches (2,540mm) wide. Brummet said they also like the heavy-duty construction, which they feel is necessary for the rigorous production schedule they maintain during the season.

The SX-6e is manufactured at the Roadtec factory in Chattanooga, TN. The machine frame is constructed from A656 grade 80 steel, which is said to have twice the yield strength as the milled steel used in other machines on the market. The custom-made frame is designed to perform in all terrains by providing substantial ground clearance. The wheels are suspended by four independently controlled, hydraulically adjustable leg assemblies that are bolted to the mainframe. This feature allows the depth of cut to be selected via push button. The cutter housing is also securely fastened to the mainframe, providing functionality while the machine is working.

For the MC-1 Speculative Warehouse project, Stabilization Services was able to complete the building pad within the given timetable and to the project specifications. The testimony of success was in the final proof roll, which was witnessed by the owner, the Peterson Company, and a municipality inspector.

What will be remembered about this project? “Probably nothing…which is good,” Brummet concluded. “Projects like the MC-1 Speculative Warehouse that we can successfully complete without a hitch are the ones we like since they allow us to quickly move on to the next project knowing that our quality work can be left behind.”

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, WI. He can be reached at

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