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Precision Asphalt Paving — Rolling Pattern, Safety

From proper paver setup to achieving optimum mat temperature and conducting the rolling pattern at just the right time — each step in the process will affect the next.

Thu October 01, 2015 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

This article is the last of a four-part series on paving provided by Volvo Construction Equipment

Successful asphalt paving projects don’t happen by accident. They are the result of careful planning and proper preparation. From proper paver setup to achieving optimum mat temperature and conducting the rolling pattern at just the right time — each step in the process will affect the next. And attention to detail throughout the process can mean the difference between getting a bonus and being delayed.

In the previous installments, best practices for paver setup, laying a quality mat and compaction were covered. Maintaining a precise rolling pattern is the final, and especially crucial, step in the road building process. It determines road smoothness and contributes to the long-term stability of the road.

Finally, maintaining correct safety and operational measures on the job cannot be overstated. This series concludes with safety best practices for the road crew and the importance of proper training for road building professionals.

Rolling Pattern

Once an ideal mat temperature has been reached, it’s essential to complete rolling before the mix temperature drops too low to achieve target density. This practice accomplishes two objectives: 1) it allows the highest production to be achieved and 2) for mixes exhibiting tenderness, proper breakdown rolling density can be reached before the mix becomes unstable or develops a tender zone.

Make the first pass with the compactor, rolling in a slight arc toward the center of the panel, maintaining a safe distance behind the paver and crew. Stop forward motion on a slight angle to prevent bumps and depressions in the pavement.

“If you stop straight and back up, you’ll leave a dip across the mat. And as you pass straight through or stop in that same spot, you’ll make a bigger dip. If you stop at a slight angle, the next pass will roll through the angled stop and it will roll out,” said Wayne Tomlinson, compaction training specialist, Volvo Construction Equipment. “You want to always stagger your stops down the mat so you’re not stopping in the same place.”

The pass on the left side stops in an arc and the compactor returns on the same path. The next forward pass is on the right side, crossing over the previous forward pass by angling toward the center of the panel. Change direction slowly to avoid pushing or shoving the mat, which also can result in pavement imperfections, such as dips and bumps.

Roll to the end of each subsequent pass beyond the end of the adjacent and previous pass. Following the forward motion of the paver keeps the compactor in the same relative mat temperature range as the paver. Limiting the length of the rolling zone also helps the compactor keep up with the paver. In order to minimize risk for the compactor operator and the paver crew, the compactor should maintain a minimum distance of 50 ft. (15.2 m) behind the paver.


Each year, nearly 1,000 road construction workers are fatally injured on the job. More than half are related to construction vehicles and heavy equipment operating within work zones. These statistics emphasize the importance of implementing and strictly adhering to general safety practices and formal training programs as part of any road paving project.

The following measures and procedures form the basis of road paving safety. Manufacturer and frequent industry association training programs also are recommended.

• Never operate a machine unless you are trained and qualified

• Ensure proper visibility of personnel and work zone, especially if paving at night

• Become familiar with the jobsite layout

• Maintain a 50 ft. distance between the paver and compactor

• Exercise caution when entering and exiting machines — use a three-point mount

• Keep the operator area free of tools and debris

• Limit the number of crew members on the paver — one paver operator and two screed operators is ideal

• Never operate a compactor with more than the operator on the machine

• Wear proper protective gear — hard hats, safety vests and safety glasses — and avoid loose or baggy clothing

The best practice for safety is to take advantage of training programs, such as Road Institute. Road Institute has been providing practical instruction and hands-on learning to road building industry professionals for more than 50 years. Courses are conducted by professional instructors — including Tomlinson — who are focused on helping paving contractors and those in the paving industry maximize productivity through various paving and compaction best practices, as well as machine performance and maintenance.

“Our job is to get people to apply best practices in order to get the best end result — a high quality paving job with the least amount of wear and tear on their machines,” said Tomlinson.

Registration to Road Institute is open to all paving professionals, regardless of paver brand. The 2015-16 schedule and course descriptions can be viewed at

In the road building industry, knowledge is power. Precision and efficiency don’t come from equipment alone — people make the difference.

Series List:

Part 1: Precision Paving Begins With Proper Equipment Setup

Part 2: Precision Asphalt Paving 101: Laying a Quality Mat

Part 3: Precision Asphalt Paving: Best Practices for Compaction

Part 4: Precision Asphalt Paving — Rolling Pattern, Safety

Part 5: Past, Present and Future of Intelligent Compaction

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