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Roller-Compacted Concrete, Volvo Help Transform Robert Smith Inc.

The Scenic City is earning its name courtesy of some big work being done by a local contractor.

Tue November 26, 2013 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The official nickname for Chattanooga, Tenn., in the United States is the Scenic City — reinforced by the city’s growing reputation as a haven for all kinds of outdoor activity. It’s surrounded by various mountains, lying between the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau and is about 120 mi. (190 km) to the northwest of Atlanta, Ga.

After four decades in the asphalt paving business, Robert Smith, owner of Robert Smith Inc., began dabbling in Roller-Compacted Concrete (RCC) — a heavy-duty cement mix that can be poured as quickly as asphalt. The company has now perfected the process of laying thousands of ft./m of RCC in just a few days for its industrial client base, according to the company. More than 90 percent of its workload now consists of RCC work — jobs that the company completes with its Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) ABG7820 paver.

That’s the Spirit

Robert Smith Inc. was contracted to repave the Jack Daniels distillery site in Lynchburg, Tenn., to deal with a major maintenance issue regarding its warehouse access roads. The asphalt roads were breaking down because of the weight of trucks carrying products to and from the warehouse. About 990 sq. ft. (92 sq m) of concrete was laid every hour by the Volvo ABG7820 paver, which covered over 527,431.6 sq. ft. (49,000 sq m) of new roads and stockyards. About 5 in. (13 cm) of compacted concrete was placed over 6 in. (15 cm) of compacted aggregate base.

Volvo tracked pavers are particularly suitable for paving a wide range of materials from the wearing course down to the base courses on diversified paving contracts, according to the company. The Volvo ABG7820 paver features a smart power-paving mode that gives high power when needed and reduce fuel consumption when less power is required. It also features an Electronic Paver Management EPM function that combines intuitive and simple operation with an extensive range of possibilities for storing and analyzing machine data.

RCC has been used for decades but it hasn’t caught on in many parts of the United States because the material has been competing with asphalt and the more traditional poured-in concrete. RCC is less damaging to the environment, which was one aspect that was key when Jack Daniels selected concrete instead of asphalt.

Rolling Out the Carpet

At another job site in Dalton, Tenn., north of Chattanooga city, Smith’s crew paved the final sections of a 2,393 cu. yd. (1,830 cu m) industrial lot for a Shaw Carpet facility with dump trucks dropping more than 7.8 cu. yds. (6 cu m) of concrete into the paver’s hopper at a time. The machine’s flexible screed was set to 22 ft. (6.7 m) wide and its dual-tampers compacted the concrete to 96 percent density. Workers could walk on the cement — poured 5.5 in. (13.9 cm) thick — immediately after it was laid.

A pair of Ingersoll Rand compactors (which have been manufactured by Volvo CE under the Volvo brand since 2007) brought the concrete to its final density and smoothed off the surface in two passes. Later, it was treated with a wax-based curing compound.

“I can push a truck straight up a mountain with the Volvo ABG7820 paver, it’s just so powerful,” said Smith. “I’ve seen people come and go in this industry but I couldn’t have done it without our Volvo paver. It has changed our whole philosophy about the jobs we go after.”

Robert Smith Inc., bought the paver through its local Volvo CE dealership, ASC Construction Equipment USA, which has an office located in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“What I like about the Volvo ABG7820 paver is that compared to a conventional paver, it’s extremely solid,” said Robert Jr., Smith’s son and paver operator. “The machine never strains — ever — which is down to its unbeaten power.”

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