Road materials, in general, have developed slowly over the decades. However, the maintenance and creation of asphalt have rapidly evolved through the years. As a result, associated construction technology will change the way paving contractors work.
Street sweepers are essential to the preventive maintenance of asphalt roads. They’ve come a long way since their horse-drawn introduction in the 1800s. Vacuums were added into the mix in the early 1900s and excelled at collecting smaller particles. Unfortunately, they covered less than half of the sweeping path and released plenty of dust back into the air. Regenerative air and high-efficiency street sweepers arrived in the late 1900s. Waterless high-efficiency sweepers claim fame in cold climates that are prone to freezing.
The newest street sweeper on the block is bound to take the industry by storm. Created in Finland, soon this autonomous street sweeper will be globally available. This electric sweeper resembles a large-scale robot vacuum. Its ability to run on electricity drastically reduces CO2 emissions. Machines can run so quietly they can operate at night. Nighttime sweepings will not only be better for traffic but will also leave roads open for any additional construction during the day. These machines may also bring lower operating costs to contractors while promising cleaner air in the process.
Recycled Plastic Asphalt
Recycling holds the key to perhaps the most exciting innovation to asphalt in decades. The use of recycled plastics may change the industry as we know it. Traditionally, bitumen is the binding agent in asphalt. With this new concept, recycled plastics would replace petroleum-based binders. Machines will compress plastics into pellets. The focus is on single-use plastics, like bottles and bags, that have become a strain on society. These plastic pellets combined with hot milled pavement melt together to create a new binding agent.
Today, best practices involve milling old pavement and transporting it to a plant for reprocessing. But with plastic binders, milled pavement can be reused immediately. This immediate use will eliminate the need for contractors to haul, store and reprocess pavement millings. Without these extra steps, you’ll be able to place your focus on completing more jobs in a smaller period.
Newer vehicles are jam-packed with new technology and features that save time in the field. Compactors offer pneumatic tire rollers designed to complete a job in fewer passes. Pneumatic tire compactors feature a simple ballasting system that evenly distributes weight on the axles. Thermal mapping systems included in some vehicles offer real-time temperature monitoring. Viewing temperature shifts on the spot allows for quick adjustments during the job. New features hit the market often and are sure to make operators’ lives easier down the road. Working with a construction partner like PNBA will keep you apprised of innovations in the industry.
The pavement industry is ever-evolving. Be it street sweepers, recycled plastics or simply new vehicles; you need to be informed. Become a member with PNBA to stay up to date. Visit our website to learn more. We’re here to help you pave the road to your future.