"With infrared equipment contractors have the ability to heat up the existing asphalt in a larger area without damaging the pavement," Strassman says."That will enable contractors to do bigger jobs and bigger jobs quicker, which will make it more available to their customers."
He says that advancement in the thermoplastic industry will spur use as well.
"Thermoplastic is not new, but people have been getting more creative with it," Strassman says."Thermoplastic manufacturers can make virtually any color and any design you want now. They can create unique logo systems. People aren't used to seeing a red and white Bucky Badger that lights up in the middle of the road when headlights hit it."
Easy way to install rumble strips
While infrared equipment can be used to repair a variety of pavement defects, such as potholes, alligatored areas and even "bird baths" in new pavement, the equipment also can be used for improvements or additions that are thought of after the pavement has been placed.
Carl Morris, president of Keizer-Morris Inc., Almont, MI, says the infrared process can be very effective when constructing handicap ramps, speed bumps and even rumble strips.
"We were approached by officials of Lapeer County in Michigan who wanted to know if we could use the infrared equipment to add rumble strips before stop signs on a number of low-volume roads," Morris says. "We hadn't tried it or thought of it but we figured it could work."
Morris says the process is similar to the process for pavement imprinting, but the imprints are deeper for the rumble strip. He says they made a homemade template, ripping 3/4-inch plywood into five 3-inch-wide strips. The strips were fastened three inches apart to metal supports on each side, creating a one-piece template 8 feet wide.
Once the template was made and the crew was at the jobsite, they followed a standard infrared repair procedure. Backpack blowers were used to clean the pavement of any debris, foreign objects or standing water.
"That's an important first step because if you don't clean it first, two things happen," Morris says."First, if you leave dirt or water on the asphalt and then you heat it, that dirt or water becomes part of the asphalt, weakening it, and you don't want that. The other thing that happens is dirt or water acts as like an insulator and makes it more difficult to heat and heat evenly."
Next they heated the pavement using a KM4-48 machine, a unit that has four heating zones and offers 15 different heating configurations. For the rumble strip, zones 1 and 3 were used to create a 4 foot x 8 foot heating area horizontally across the pavement. Then the pavement was heated.
"All you're doing is softening the asphalt,"Morris says."It's a very simple and quick process."
After heating the template is placed on the heated area and compacted 3/4 inches deep. Morris says they have used both a walk-behind plate compactor and a one-ton roller to make the impressions.
"You don't have to make much of a distortion in asphalt to get a driver's attention," Morris says.
Morris says that using the infrared process for improvements such as rumble strips can be quick and easy for contractors, enabling them to offer additional services to their customers. He says the entire process, once the crew placed the heater on the surface, was 10 minutes from start to finish.
"When adding things such as handicap ramps or speed bumps the infrared approach has additional benefits," Morris says. "If you construct a speed bump, for example, you are just adding something on to the top of the pavement. But if you use the infrared process to construct the speed bump you heat the surface, score it with a rake, and then build the speed bump on top. The bump then becomes a part of the existing pavement, making it stronger and ensuring it will last longer."
Producing seamless utility cut repairs
Many contractors are in the utility cut repair business, which can be lucrative but can also cause substantial headaches, particularly where call-backs for failing repairs are concerned.
But as Knipfing Asphalt Solutions, the contracting arm of KASI Infrared equipment learned, the infrared process can solve the utility cut problem. In fact, both Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) now rely on the infrared process almost exclusively to repair many of their utility cuts.