Utilizing an intelligent compaction system helps alleviate equipment concerns. Because the energy adjusts as the material achieves density, there is less potential for energy to be redirected back into the roller. This reduces required maintenance and encourages a longer service life. And given the high costs associated with new equipment, the more one can stretch roller longevity - the better.
Time is Money
Another benefit of intelligent compaction systems is increased efficiency. For example, consider the roller operator encountering a job armed only with experience. He or she assesses the jobsite and determines that the surface will need five passes with the roller for proper compaction. After completing the passes, an independent testing device is used, either nuclear or non-nuclear, and it's found that adequate density has been achieved. But were all of these passes necessary?
Going back to this same job with a roller featuring an intelligent compaction system, the operator may find that the surface only requires three or four passes for optimum compaction. Additionally, after qualifying results against an independent testing device, there is no need to conduct independent testing because the roller does it on the fly. Therefore, instead of wasting one or two passes and taking extra time to test the material, the job is completed with less effort. Decreased effort means less time required on the job, less fuel to burn, less maintenance, less wear-and-tear hours on the equipment and a better chance of meeting deadlines or receiving bonuses. All this, in addition to knowing that the best possible compaction results have been achieved, offers quite the argument for implementing an intelligent compaction system.
Knowing that the best possible compaction results have been achieved in the shortest period of time is good, but it's better if one can prove it. Today, all contractors must agree to some type of guarantee on their work. This is typically specified in the bid and it locks the contractor into a particular quality or performance standard. Because of this, contractors should document the results achieved on every job in order to offer some sort of recourse in the event that a problem arises within the given warranty period. If this documentation isn't available or sufficient enough to prove that the job was done right the first time, the contractor may be required to come back and fix the problem at his or her own expense. To combat this, most intelligent compaction systems offer a way to document job-site results through the use of onboard printers.
Printouts provide the ultimate documentation for both soil and asphalt compaction jobs because they provide a readout of the entire area covered with the roller. In comparison with engineering core samples or on-site measuring devices that prove definitive compaction results only where the test was administered, intelligent compaction system printouts indicate the density achieved for the entire length of the lane traveled and the entire width of the drum. Therefore, they are able to show what was achieved for 100-percent of the compacted area. Additionally, the printouts exhibit a progression of compaction, from one pass to the next, they indicate the speed and frequency of the roller during the application, and include a time/date stamp to determine the job's pace.
Other than providing the contractor with peace of mind, these printouts act as qualifiers for achieved results and help verify that the job was done right. This can be crucial if sometime down the road a project fails and the county, state or federal authority comes back to the contractor for answers.
A Bright Future for Intelligent Compaction
Even with the unquestionable benefits offered through intelligent compaction systems and the fact that several manufacturers are implementing these capabilities into their equipment lines, few contractors in the U.S. are currently taking advantage of this technology. In Europe, on the other hand, roughly 80- to 85-percent of all rollers are sold with some form of intelligent compaction. Of course, some of this has to do with the longer availability of the technology, but for the most part, it's simply due to a lack of knowledge about what's available and what intelligent compaction systems could mean for the contractor.