In an effort to control the rising costs of materials and the impact that has on the amount of work road agencies can accomplish, there seems to be an increasing trend in the number of warranty projects agencies are awarding to asphalt paving contractors.
Warranty projects place more responsibility on the shoulders of the asphalt producer/contractor, who will be required to have accurate and reliable lab and field testing equipment to ensure pavement quality during placement and the duration of the specified warranty period.
We asked several suppliers of quality control products to respond to the following questions. Here's what they had to say...
Will this warranty project trend require asphalt producers/contractors to beef up their testing capabilities? Please explain.
David Apkarian, president, Transtech Systems Inc.: "Absolutely. No longer will it be acceptable for a contractor to push off QCQA. They will need to take responsibility for testing. Wages will have to increase and be equal to machine operators so the QC tech becomes an interracial part of the crew.
"Experience will be key to the performance of the job, and a contractor's success rate will depend on how they embrace the new idea of Warranties and QCQA."
Wade Collins, vice president, Pavement Technology: "Yes. Depending on the specifications on warranty projects, contractors will need to know how their asphalt mixes will perform prior to placement. Some contractors around the United States are utilizing the Asphalt Pavement Analyzer (APA) and APA Jr. to evaluate their mixes.
"Contractors can use this type of equipment to test their mix designs, the mix they produce at the asphalt plants, and cores from the final in-place compacted mix.
"By monitoring the performance of a mix from the beginning to end, contractors will know how their mixes will perform and will be able to meet the requirements of a warranty project."
Tom Akehurst, Troxler Electronic Laboratories Inc.: "The general consensus of the people we polled is that because the producers are now held accountable for the performance of their work, they will need to do more testing to feel more confident and provide increased supporting documentation to agencies, partly to reduce exposure risk."
Maurice Arbelaez, marketing director, InstroTek Inc.: "Most contractors that I have spoken with have told me that the equipment they have in place can assure quality pavements, but it will mean a tightening of procedures and making sure all testing standards are followed with special attention to key indicators of asphalt performance.
What type of lab testing equipment will asphalt producers need to perform the quality control tests a typical DOT warranty project requires? Detail the basic equipment requirements and what each piece of equipment is designed to test.
Apkarian, Transtech Systems Inc.: "This will vary from state to state and greatly depend if the contractor subs out there testing or elects to perform it all in house. My experience is field related, so I can tell you what is required to perform field testing to ensure quality.
"First and foremost is an experienced quality control technician that has responsibility and authority to perform the job at hand and a work vehicle. A density gauge that is in good working order and is factory calibrated. The user must be trained on its operation — not just safety trained, but trained on how to take readings.
"We can not simply hand the tech a gauge and say, 'Here take readings with this.' We need to have gauges that can obtain fast and accurate readings and be able to interoperate those readings to correct any problems and do this on the fly.
"The ability to profile the mat is imperative. A good working core rig to take samples to test back in the lab for QCQA. A form of communication, a radio or cell phone, so the tech can communicate with the plant and the paving crew/superintendent.