Technology is helping asphalt companies rethink the way they work

The basic components of asphalt paving have hardly changed in the last few decades and still require the use of long-lasting special machines. However, with the advent of technology to improve productivity and the quality of results, operations are being transformed, efficiency increased and real-time effects achieved at every stage of the operational chain.

The technology is also helping to shape the future of the paving industry, from telematics to process monitoring systems, 3D paving control technology to thermal mapping and smart compaction – all of which help get work done faster, smarter, and safer.

Efficient material planning and delivery

Eliminating paver stops relies on the ability to balance laydown with delivery and is key to smooth, even paving and maintaining working conditions. Previously, this involved planning a paper ticket system with little communication between the plant and the construction site. Hence, visibility and estimated delivery time were a guessing game.

Telematics and process monitoring solutions enable the delivery of material exactly when it is needed and allow contractors to see it Real-time delivery from the factory to the site along with the tonnage. These new technologies can be linked to apps that allow site managers to view each cycle time of the truck, whether it is waiting to be picked up, which route it is taking and if any delays are to be expected so that it can proactively make changes to the paving rate if necessary .

3D plaster does it right the first time

3D pavement control is the next technological step and can help achieve the highest levels of smoothness and accuracy. This technology has been common on many construction sites for years and is used for larger paving jobs such as airports, highways and race tracks given the tighter tolerances required for this type of work. For the rest of the industry, the adoption rate was slower.

Basic 2D technology was a standard for Decades and offers a guidance system to achieve the correct incline and slope for asphalt pavers. The equipment requires extreme accuracy to ensure that each layer of asphalt is paved with the correct amount of material. Mistakes are not an option. While 2D tilt control continues to be used for most jobs, customers are increasingly demanding more.

3D technology continues to evolve and is increasingly gaining acceptance in the industry, resulting in improved machine control in every phase of the construction process. Instead of using traditional paint markings on the road surface to indicate the grade and slope of a proposed location, paving control systems use a 3D design to guide the screed from the start of a project to the planned height and slope. Not only can paving operators improve efficiency and productivity by eliminating string lines, but they can also achieve a smoother surface and greater accuracy, especially on larger and more complex structures.

Use of intelligent paving systems

Thermal mapping monitors the surface temperatures of the asphalt using an infrared camera and a global navigation satellite system. By displaying real-time temperatures, contractors can use devices to identify deviations and take action to manage the equipment for the paver delivery process and align their work with more consistent placement temperatures.

Thermal mapping uses an infrared camera mounted directly on the machine to monitor road surface temperatures behind the screed and provide real-time information on the temperature that can be saved as data for documentation and future analysis. Material with large temperature fluctuations across the surface does not produce a constant density after compaction. By monitoring placement temperatures in real time, contractors can resolve thermal segregation issues by changing their paving practices or making the necessary adjustments to equipment.

Paving at the wrong temperature not only leads to poor results, but can also affect driving safety and the durability of the road. As a result, this technology continues to improve and help build long-lasting, long-lasting roads that can properly handle heavy loads and high traffic volumes. Regulations vary by geographic region, but the industry is starting to have thermoregulation and mapping become the standard on many projects.

Protect your employees and manage distractions

Paving remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the construction industry. There are many factors to consider in a project, from having multiple devices operating at the same time, to living traffic and often small work areas. They all need to be managed to keep employees safe on site.

The machines are now equipped with 360-degree vision systems, with which you can see the surroundings of the devices from a bird’s eye view. The transmitted view is compiled by combining several camera images to form an all-round view for the operator. This can be helpful in reducing blind spots and showing obstructions that are not normally directly visible.

Object recognition cameras are now available for devices directly from the factory, giving operators an overview of what’s going on around their devices and alerting them to potential hazards with proximity warnings and avoidance zone notifications.

Proximity systems are another option for detecting ground personnel. They have a high level of accuracy and repeatability and alert the operator with a visual and audible alarm. Proximity detection systems for personnel who use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Technology) and RFID tags can be attached to protective equipment such as protective helmets and safety vests and communicate with the devices via an antenna.

Smart bands are also increasingly used to track employees’ sleep and to synchronize them with a software program as soon as an employee starts work. It can help model and predict impending fatigue risks at the beginning of a shift to ensure site managers know that people are operating machines with insufficient sleep.

The safety training can also be adapted for pavement applications in a controlled and safe environment through Virtual Reality (VR). These solutions immerse the trainee in a virtual construction site so that the employee learns to interact with employees and identify hazards before working on the construction site. VR offers a proactive approach as a safe alternative to real training.

Training and technique go hand in hand. It is key to running a smooth and safe pavement site, and contractors who view this as an investment in training and safety will see greater success in the long run. With long downtime between seasons, there are many opportunities for operators to improve their skills, gain confidence, and test new technologies that they may have been reluctant to try before.

The right equipment partner is also important. Not only can they help you get the right training for your operators, but they can also give you insight into the best technology to get your job done.

Eliminate productivity problems

Despite its advantages, many road construction companies are still reluctant to take advantage of the technology at their disposal. But things are slowly starting to shift. Real-time data and telematics enable contractors to successfully complete projects with greater accuracy. There is also increasing attention to how to attract a younger generation of workers. Those who understand that technology can serve as a tool to become a better and more efficient operator.

Advances in GPS, telematics, and automation have made projects safer, faster, more efficient, cheaper, and less risky to build. Leveraging technology leads to successful project execution, improved customer satisfaction and, in many cases, increased business profits.

Sheldon Allan is the product manager for paving and compaction at Finning.

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