A recent Intelligent Compaction Workshop sponsored by the Massachusetts DOT, MassPort, FHWA, ACEC/MA, CIM, & MAAPA. The stated goal of the workshop was to address IC fundamentals, a walkthrough of the MassDOT Pilot IC specifications and Pilot projects, an
Who Wants To Go First? If you’re a participant at a State Transportation Innovation Council Intelligent Compaction workshop, those words pack a lot of meaning. First of all, they’re an announcement that sitting back and taking notes is officially over — good news for the roll-up-your-sleeves, active types that make the great majority of the audience. And of course, they let you know that now you get to be the one at the controls of a roller, putting to work what you’ve learned a couple of hours ago. And by the way, there’ll be lots of people watching — peers, coworkers, a couple of media people, maybe your boss…no pressure.
So what are you doing here anyway?
Good question, long answer. The Federal Highway Administration Intelligent Compaction or IC workshops come in two flavors, Intelligent Compaction Data Management (ICDM) workshops and Intelligent Compaction Overview workshops.
ICDM workshops offer hands-on IC training, while IC Overview workshops remain at a general, conceptual level. If you’re attending an ICDM workshop, you’re probably a paving or an earthmoving supervisor, manager or operator. You’ve heard about IC and you realize that it’s going to be the way of handling paving projects.
You may also be the owner of the company, and the reason you’re attending is simple — you want to get that competitive advantage sooner rather than later. You’re ready to implement it, either in a pilot project, or across the board, so you want to know what it involves and expose your people to it as soon as possible.
Is There Such a Thing as an IC Machine?
Mike Jouben, head of SITECH Northeast, official dealer of Trimble Positioning Technology, said “Yes — and no.
“Basically an ’IC machine’ is a vibratory roller, as opposed to a static roller, equipped with mounted accelerometers, a global positioning system (GPS) and infrared sensors to track asphalt temperature.”
As Jouben explained, it’s not a totally different machine, but it’s outfitted with technology to manage and monitor the compaction process in ways that an ordinary vibratory roller cannot; IC equipment collects and displays information real-time that historically was not able to be leveraged by the machine operator.
“With IC, the operator can keep track of roller passes and monitor coverage of the entire surface, helping to prevent areas being missed by the roller train. The temperature of the asphalt surface and the stiffness of compacted materials are also recorded and provide feedback that the rolling pattern is doing its job,” Jouben said.
What’s the Point?
In two words, improved performance and consistency.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Agency, “Pavement is typically designed to bear traffic demands for at least 20 years with regularly scheduled maintenance.” When pavement cracks prematurely, one of the causes could be that the pavement and base layer were not compacted properly, or there is not a uniform thickness. Reducing highway repair costs speaks volumes, and that alone could be a major reason for going IC. And if that’s not enough, there’s also increased productivity.
IC vibratory rollers are able to compact greater amounts of pavement with fewer passes than the traditional, non-technology equipped rollers, with the resulting time and fuel savings.
Why is that?
“The operator can keep track of roller passes, the temperature of the asphalt surface and the stiffness of compacted materials, all in real time, therefore he does not waste time over-compacting it,” said Jouben.
For the practical implementation portion of the most recent ICDM workshop, participants went to a demo site especially set up at the nearby Milton CAT location in Milford, Mass. The area had been carefully planned to include challenging obstacles — one of them was buried foam, simulating the unexpected inconsistencies that paving crews have to deal with. On hand were Trimble paving specialists, Kevin Garcia and several representatives from SITECH Northeast as well as Milton CAT paving salespeople.
As the first brave hands went up in response to the “Who wants to be first?” dare, attendees who volunteered to put into practice their newly-acquired learning sat at the controls of Caterpillar vibratory rollers equipped with Trimble IC technology. Several parallel mock roads allowed multiple participants to practice compaction at the same time.
So How Did It Go?
• The real-time data was a big hit with the participants; the comment was that being able to know right away the percent of change in the stiffness value allowed the operator to know when his efforts to compact were not making any additional progress in the density of the mat.
• Managing your roller pattern prevents any missed spots, improving consistency in the efforts to compact the road.
• The simplicity of the system was a surprise. Given the richness of the data it provides, you’d expect to have to deal with a more complicated process.
• The IC versatility also got high marks from participants; the system works across the brand range, in vibratory rollers from all major makes. It also performs the same functions on soil rollers, minus the temperature sensors of course.
Is it your turn now? As an exploratory step, attending an overview workshop could make sense. Or maybe testing out some equipment with Intelligent Compaction capability…without a crowd.