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What we do

The network has the strong belief that professionalization in the industry can only happen when research and technology development are driven by practice and guided by scientific rigour. We therefore use advanced technologies and sensors, such as GPS, thermography, digital imaging and virtual reality tools to:

  • Make explicit operational behaviour of asphalt construction teams;

  • Improve overall process quality;

  • Develop insights into the asphalt construction process and provide feedback to operator;

  • Reduce variability in key parameters, improve process control, and continuously advance productivity; and

  • Reduce risks for paving companies in order to improve product quality and value for the clients.

 

 

The collaboration between researchers and contractors has provided several valuable outcomes and insights:

  • An action research approach that captures the operational characteristics of the HMA process in detail and in a more holistic manner. This approach involves the researcher and the HMA team directly in process improvement initiatives, which underscores that the HMA construction team needs to be involved in and take responsibility for process improvement. Through alternating steps of technology introduction and making operational strategies explicit, the HMA team gradually becomes used to new technologies and the benefits that new technologies bring. Rather than just being recipients of technology, they are part of the development of technology and more method-based work strategies.

  • A systematic framework, called the Process Quality Improvement (PQi) method, is used for improving process quality and can be used for monitoring and exposing variability in the HMA construction process. This enables asphalt construction teams to systematically work towards professionalization of their primary processes.

  • Systematic procedures are used to monitor the movements of machinery at the construction site, continuously monitor the surface temperature in real-time, monitor the in-asphalt temperature relative to the surface temperature, systematically monitor the density progression during the compaction process, and continuously monitor the weather conditions. Within the PQi-framework and the developed procedures, several SMART technologies including GPS, laser line scanners, infrared cameras and thermocouples are successfully used to monitor the working methods of the asphalt team and the temperature differentials during the paving process. The temperature profiling highlights the resultant variability in temperature homogeneity and identifies potentially segregated areas. Temperature Contour Plots and Compaction Contour Plots (see examples below) are digitally “georeferenced in layers” and saved in permanent records for future reviewing of on-site pavement distress and failure.

  • Several visualisation tools have been developed and can be used to make operational behaviour explicit. Mapping the heuristics operators use allows a deeper understanding of the on-site paving process. The developed tools include: Innovative plots that visualises actual asphalt temperature and compaction data collected during the construction process, 2D animations showing all asphalt equipment movements during construction and in so doing provide evidence of the rolling patterns and of how compaction is undertaken during the construction process, and a Virtual Reality Training Tool and Gaming Software that can be used to train roller compactor operators.

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