Concrete paving is pretty complex and achieving quality, long-lasting results requires skill, the right equipment, and advanced technology. At its root, pavement is an outdoor floor...a hardscape surface covering that is driven or walked on. One of the major advantages of concrete pavements is they are typically stronger and more durable than other types of surfaces. They also can be grooved to provide a tough skid-resistant surface. A notable disadvantage is that they typically can be more time-consuming to construct. Thus, concrete contractors have turned to technology for production-enhancing efficiencies and improved results.
According to the American Concrete Pavement Association, the role of technology has been significant to the growth and evolution of concrete paving: "Since 1892–when the very first concrete pavement was placed in America–concrete pavement technology has been changing, continually evolving to meet current and future needs."
As part of this more than a century of improvement, the machines and methods have evolved. Today, technology has improved productivity and quality of results.
"We're seeing progressive contractors...early adopters embracing technology today, and the others realizing they will have to follow or settle for not being competitive," said Brian Lingobardo, systems manager, 3D road construction, Topcon Positioning Systems, Livermore, Calif. "We have the technology to provide contractors with millimeter paving accuracy, which is astounding."
Slipform pavers have become indispensable in concrete paving because of their efficiency in the highly-automated production of concrete road pavements, airstrips, and other large surface sites. The track-mounted multipurpose machines are monster-size masters in the production of a countless range of poured, in-place profiles. Controlling their performance to ensure desired results is where machine control developers step in.
Topcon Positioning Systems offers a 3D paving capability through its Millimeter GPS paver system. According to Topcon, the product is the world’s first GPS-based millimeter accurate control for pavers. The system uses satellite positioning together with a zone laser reference. Mounted on the paver is a control box designed to send control to the hydraulics independently. The color, graphical screen displays the machine position on the job, and the sensors being used to control the left and right side of the pan, as well as the current elevation and slope.
The system has machine control positioning-zone laser receivers with integrated GPS antenna mounted on the rear of the paver. Other components on the paver include the machine control GNSS receiver and slope sensors to control the front or “draft” of the paver.
The Topcon Millimeter GPS paver system features a laser that transmits a unique signal and operates similar to a standard rotating laser. Unlike a standard rotating laser that only works in a flat plane, the Topcon LZ-T5 transmits a Lazer Zone signal that creates a measuring area 33 feet (10 m) in height. Therefore, positioned anywhere within the Lazer Zone, the Millimeter GPS paver system’s machine control sensor is designed to compute the precise vertical information. There is no need for a moveable mast, the technology is designed to determine elevation automatically. Even if the site has an elevation variance of 10 meters (33 feet), there is no need to reposition the instrument or receivers with this technology. For sites with significant elevations or large areas, up to four LZ-T5 Lazer Zone transmitters can be linked to cover a larger area and elevation change of more than 130 feet.