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“Better roads at a lower cost,” says Don Taylor, project manager at the Iowa highway, utility and heavy construction firm.
McAninch is testing a Cat® soil compactor equipped with a proprietary system that measures rolling resistance on the go. Rolling resistance refers to the amount of energy required to propel a machine over a given surface. This measurement provides a good indication of soil stiffness and load-bearing strength which in turn helps determine whether a site has been compacted adequately enough to support whatever will be built on it.
The Cat system tracks rolling resistance in real time and delivers results to an in-cab display, making it easy for the operator to assess work in process. If the image is green, compaction targets have been met, so the operator can move on to the next area with confidence. But if it’s red, there’s more work to be done.
McAninch and others testing this technology have great things to say about it. They like the fact that it works on all soil types, including clay and other cohesive materials. They say it’s more accurate than anything they’ve used to date. And they’re enthused about the ability to achieve uniform compaction across an entire site. Site-wide uniformity translates into less rework, fewer downstream repairs and longer road life.
There are big productivity gains associated with this technology too. When McAninch used it while preparing a site for a new on-off ramp structure, they reached target density in 75 percent fewer passes. That meant lower fuel costs and less wear and tear on the compactor. Plus, they were able to finish on time, even though heavy rains had caused delays. The company also reduced compaction testing costs on the project by 75 percent and had no rework because problems were identified while the base was still open.
Taylor has seen a lot of breakthroughs in his long construction career. This just might be another one.
“It’s a game-changer,” he says. “Better measurements and better roads at a lower cost. Those are tough points to argue.”
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