Workers build new road using modern asphalt paving systems.

Modern Asphalt Paving Systems: How Machine Control Systems Create Smoother Roads

It’s a long-running joke that Alaska has two seasons: winter and construction.

However, if you’re working in road construction, you know that once the snow has melted there’s no time to sit around and laugh. Whether you are resurfacing a major highway or fixing potholes in a parking lot, time is money. You need to deliver smooth, accurate roadways as efficiently as possible.

The best way to do that is with modern asphalt paving systems, which use sophisticated machine control technology to help with everything from surveying and modelling to earthwork, milling, compacting, and paving. Here is the technology you need to streamline your workflow.

Want to consult an expert? Contact GPS Alaska today.

Evolution of Modern Asphalt Paving Systems

7 Steps to Perfect Roadways Infographic

Road construction has changed a lot in recent decades. The first three-dimensional machine control and guidance systems appeared in the civil construction industry in the 1990s. At the time, using GPS to evaluate the position of each machine relative to the model of each new road was revolutionary.

Best practice changed again when robotic total stations (RTS) hit the market, utilizing tracking sensors to guide heavy equipment. Nowadays, automated machine guidance (AMG) is standard, combining multiple data sources to relay real-time location information to an on-board computer that can automatically adjust the equipment under the operator’s supervision. As this technology has advanced across the industry, it’s significantly increased productivity and improved quality.

Accuracy has never been more important. Civil construction is an industry which has significant overhead costs, as well as a miniscule margin for error. Cities, villages, and highways can grind to a halt while construction and maintenance is underway, making it imperative to get each job done as quickly as possible. On top of that, it’s incredibly laborious and expensive to fix paving defects.

Technology plays a vital role in making sure each step of the process is done to the right standard, helping modern contractors can deliver great roads that stay in service for as long as possible.

Introducing Topcon Asphalt Paving Systems

Modern companies such as Topcon, a leading technology manufacturer, are continuing to push the limits of what’s possible in road construction, embracing technology with a range of innovative modern asphalt paving systems designed to create incredibly smooth roads every time.

Its products, which are distributed locally by GPS Alaska, ensure you can always deliver smooth and accurate road surfaces. Given the environmental challenges that Alaskan roads face, and the speed at which carriageways can deteriorate, it’s important to utilize all of the tools in your arsenal.

Topcon’s top products, which we’ll explore in detail below, include:

  • SmoothRide™ Solution
  • P-32 2D Milling System
  • mmGPS Milling
  • P-32 Paver System
  • 3D-MC Asphalt Paver
  • C-52 Intelligent Compaction
  • TH-M1 Thermal Mapper

SmoothRide™ Solution

Topcon reports the biggest issues facing road construction crews are poor-quality data acquisition, inaccurate surveying, lane closures, occupational safety, and achieving the right level of smoothness. Tackling multi-faceted challenges such as these exposes contractors to high levels of risk, however, SmoothRide™ is a fully integrated digital workflow designed specifically to streamline these issues.

It coordinates every part of the road construction process to promote quality control. This includes conducting a primary scan, planning, milling, conducting a secondary scan, paving, compacting, and conducting a final scan to ensure the finished project is smooth, safe, and otherwise up to scratch.

In other words, SmoothRide™ helps you identify points of weakness early, so you can take action before small problems become literal roadblocks. This is great for two reasons: first, you can deliver superior roads; second, it can save your company a considerable amount of time and money.

P-32 2D Milling System

Milling is one of the areas of road construction that has changed most dramatically in recent decades. For one thing, modern equipment has replaced the back-breaking labor of the past. For another, sonic averaging technology means you can lay smoother and stronger asphalt with perfect elevation and slope control. The P-32 2D Milling System combines sonic trackers with physical references such as string lines, poured curbs, and existing surfaces, to dramatically improve your accuracy and smoothness. It’s easy to use and very durable to ensure your crew can use it in any conditions.

mmGPS Milling

Gone are the days of installing string lines, creating mill marks, and manually measuring thickness. Topcon is world leader in GPS-based millimeter-accurate milling control systems and it was actually the first company to launch a product of this kind into the market. The latest technology gives you a 2,400-meter horizontal working range and a 40-meter vertical working range, so you can accurately mill in any direction with the help of high-quality 3D modelling. Every millimeter matters when it comes to civil construction and this incredible level of accuracy means your crew will mill only what needs to be milled. The result is better road surfaces and a leaner operation.

P-32 Paver System

Screed control is the secret to smooth paving. The P-32 2D Paving System is designed to give you as much control as possible, using a high-contrast control box to show you exactly what’s going on. This improves smoothness by ensuring your crew can make the slope and material thickness perfect. It’s so straightforward and easy to use that you’ll be wondering why you waited until now to install one.

mmGPS Asphalt Paver

Plans are great, but only if you can stick to them. That’s where the mmGPS Paver comes in, because it allows you to control any paver from your digital site plans. It automatically adjusts to produce the exact level of material thickness your project requires, using transmitters to create a large working window. This takes into account complex details such as slopes, horizontal curves, and vertical curves at a millimeter level, ensuring you can create a perfect new road surface. Roads built using this technology are incredibly smooth and your client will be thrilled with the end result.

C-52 Intelligent Compaction

Intelligent compaction is about maximizing productivity by making every pass count. Advanced compaction is an essential component of modern asphalt paving systems, because it enables you to work faster with better accuracy. This system utilizes multiple integrated temperature sensors to create a constant feedback loop, including pass counts, GPS coordinates for each run your operator completes, and geo-references for workflow tasks. As you would expect, perfect compaction means a perfect road surface. However, on top of that, the system is designed to allow you to easily access data, promote collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, and generate reports.

TH-M1 Thermal Mapper

This thermal mapper comes in a kit that can be mounted on your paver, monitoring temperature to ensure your asphalt is installed to specification. Generating this data in real time helps avoid premature failure points, because your team can react immediately and adjust variables such as the mix and speed. Quick decision-making is essential to reducing risk and maintaining quality control.

Future of Asphalt Paving Systems

Digitalization of the road-making process is well underway and more technological advances are just around the corner. Topcon says machine control, end-to-end digital planning, quality data collection and processing, and improved collaboration are just the beginning. The future will see more steps of the road construction process become automated, however, there will always be a place for human thinkers and supervisors. This will continue to reduce the margin for error and improve quality.

For now, modern asphalt paving systems can transform Alaska’s road network, enabling contractors to construct smoother and more accurate paving projects than ever before. If you’re looking to not just deliver great roads, but streamline processes, maximize productivity, and save time and money, Topcon’s sophisticated machine control systems can help you reach the next level. That way, you can make the most of this summer, as well as all of the Alaskan construction seasons to come.

Ready to build smoother roads? Contact GPS Alaska today.