Don Taylor, project manager at McAninch Corp., an Iowa highway, utility and heavy construction firm, has seen some big breakthroughs in his day—from cable to hydraulics to GPS. Now, he’s ready to add another one to the list: Machine Drive Power (MDP).
“It’s a game-changer,” he says.
MDP is a machine-integrated soil compaction measurement technology that evaluates rolling resistance. That resistance provides an indication of soil stiffness and load-bearing strength—and whether compaction is adequate to hold the road, parking lot, building or whatever is planned for a site.
This proprietary technology is catching the attention of contractors because it works on all soil types, including cohesives, and can enable a compactor to act as a proof roller, even when not vibrating. Plus, MDP can eliminate the need for multiple passes of a compactor and deliver considerable cost savings.
In Altoona, Iowa, McAninch is putting MDP to the test to determine proactively if compaction is adequate to support a new on-off ramp structure. Operators inside the MDP-equipped Cat® CS74B Soil Compactor can view real-time results on a monitor in the cab. A green area on the display means the area was covered and targets were met. A red area indicates troublespots and alerts the operator to make adjustments.
Here’s an example: Realizing that one red area likely resulted from too much moisture, one of McAninch’s operators switched from the compactor to a tractor and disk and spent about 15 minutes turning the soil so it would dry more quickly. Then he took another pass with the CS74B, and the screen turned green.
“It gives you confidence that you’ve reached density and can move on,” Taylor says. He and others testing MDP say it is a more accurate indicator of stiffness and load-bearing strength than anything they have seen to date, perhaps in part because of the high clay content of the Iowa soil—though it works well in other materials, too.
“You can add a lot of road life with uniformity,” Taylor says. “States spend a lot of their transportation money on maintenance. If the base has no weaknesses, you’ll only have to replace a wear course from time to time. That is a huge cost savings at a time when every dime is being watched.”
McAninch estimates a 75 percent savings on pass count and a 75 percent reduction in testing costs using MDP on this project. Even better, there was zero rework—because the company was able to identify potential problems while the base was still open.
Learn how another company eliminated thousands of passes using MDP in this article.
“You can’t leave technology like this on the shelf,” Taylor says. “You would have better measurements, and better roads, at a lower cost. Those are tough points to argue.”
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