If you're wondering whether or not you can afford to invest in new technology, ask yourself if you can afford not to invest in new technology.
Asphalt contractors involved in high production paving projects, where low bid gets the job, know how productivity, quality and efficiency can have a positive or negative effect on their bottom line. If you complete a project ahead of schedule, you can often earn an early completion bonus. If you produce a quality pavement, you can also earn an incentive based on ride smoothness. And if you efficiently execute the project, the savings generated will improve the project's profitability.
With rising fuel and asphalt cement prices, having the right equipment to produce a quality pavement as efficiently as possible can be the difference in making a profitable return on the money and time you invest to run a successful business.
That's where Showcase 2006 comes in. Take a close look at the products featured in this year's addition, and consider how investing in the latest technology could help improve your profitability. Investing in new equipment that can improve your productivity, improve the quality of the project, and lower the fuel and operational expenses required to execute the project is an investment that will not only help to offset the rising fuel and asphalt cement costs the industry is now facing, but it will also help you establish a competitive advantage in the market.
While road agencies may make some adjustments to compensate contractors for higher fuel and asphalt cement costs, they're not going to abandon the "low bid" approach to awarding contracts. Contractors will continue to make money by completing projects ahead of schedule, earning ride smoothness incentives for the quality of work they deliver, and lowering their fuel and operational costs as much as possible.
Lowering your fuel costs is not simply a matter of buying equipment that's powered by more fuel-efficient engines. Manufacturers continue to improve the fuel efficiency of the engines that power heavy highway equipment, but they're also improving the operational efficiency that allows contractors to complete their work with only the effort required to achieve the specifications called for in a contract. Take the recent developments in "smart compaction" for example. The technology monitors the compaction efforts of the roller and alerts the operator when the desired density has been achieved. That means operators no longer have to guess whether or not to make one more pass over the mat to ensure that it's adequately compacted.
There are countless examples of today's technology, from asphalt plants to paving equipment, which can and will improve your production, quality and efficiency. If you think that 20-year-old piece of equipment is doing a great job, take a look at the changes and improvements that have evolved over the past 20 years and consider how those improvements could improve your operation.
Greg Udelhofen, Editor