What Are the Different Types of Compactor Systems?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2020
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Various compactor systems can be used to achieve a multitude of goals: some are designed to compact soil or other particulate matter, while others are used to compress raw materials for storage or transport. In the construction industry, some compactor systems are small and are used to compact soil or other materials in smaller spaces. Exceptionally large systems feature large rollers that compact materials; these machines are sometimes known as steamrollers or double drum compactors. A single drum compactor will feature one large steel roller and two rubber wheels to propel the machine forward.

Vibratory plate compactor systems are commonly used in smaller construction settings to compact soil or other materials. The machine features a weighted plate that vibrates at a high rate of speed to compact materials. A gas or diesel engine is used to power the machine, and an operator will walk behind the plate compactor to guide it over the area that requires compaction. This is one of the most commonly used compaction systems on job sites, and the machine can vary in size and function to accommodate various types of construction jobs.


A trench compactor features a narrow body and rotating steel wheels to achieve compaction. Compactor systems that are designed for trenches may be remote controlled so a user does not have to walk behind the machine as it compacts the materials. This enhances the safety of the operator, since he or she will not need to enter a trench in order to operate the machine. The trench compactor can also be used once the trench has been filled in; it can be run over the trench to compact the replaced soil.

Exceptionally large construction projects will require larger compactor systems. Double drum compactors are large machines often used to prepare soil before a paving project, as well as to flatten and compact asphalt once it has been laid down. These machines may feature articulated steering for greater maneuverability; they generally move fairly slow to allow for the greatest amount of compaction. A single drum compactor will also flatten or compact materials in much the same way as a double drum compactor, but for added traction, the rear wheels of the machine will be rubber.

Other types of compactor systems are used for specific purposes. A trash compactor, for example, will compress trash within a container or bin to maximize storage space. A tire compactor will compress rubber tires for baling; a hydraulic arm will press the tires together, and baling wire can be used to prevent the tires from decompressing once the hydraulic arm retracts.


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