For being driven on, the roads sector is driving the way for asphalt sensor pavers in India.
Asphalt paver was developed by Barbar Green Co that originally manufactured material handling systems. In 1929, the Chicago Testing Laboratory approached them to use their material loaders to construct asphalt roads. This did not result in a partnership but Barber Greene did develop a machine based on the concrete pavers of the day that mixed and placed the concrete in a single process. This set-up did not prove as effective as desired and the processes were separated and the modern paver was on its way. In 1933, the independent float screed was invented and when combined with the tamper bar provided for uniform material density and thickness. Harry Barber filed for a patent a ¨machine for and process of laying roads´ on April 10, 1936 and received patent on December 6, 1938. The main features of the paver developed by Barber Greene Co have been incorporated into most pavers since, although improvements have been made to control of the machine.
An estimated, Rs 50,000 crore is being invested to change the landscape of the national highways in the country. Having said that, fund-backed initiatives like PMGSY and state level announcements add to the kitty. In fact some foreign countries like Japan are investing in such projects. Although 100 concrete road projects have been announced by Union Minister for Roads and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, asphalt topped roads will primarily dominate the rest of the scene, thereby resulting in increased usage of asphalt pavers.
Further, the country´s thrust on developing roads in the North-East and far flung rural areas of the country entails a new breed of small asphalt pavers to enter the road construction sector. These pavers will be required to address the challenges of flexible operational width and diverse (sometimes extreme) climatic conditions, easy transportability, steep gradients in hilly terrains without compromising on optimum performance characteristics. Innovative technologies and engineering are expected to play a major role in such pavers.
On one hand, Ramesh Palagiri, Managing Director & CEO, Wirtgen India Pvt Ltd compares, ¨The demand for the 9 m and above class is around 100 units and the rest is for the 5 m class for sensor pavers. But the market for mechanical pavers is bigger around 500 units. We expect in the coming years, more contractors to shift to sensor pavers from mechanical.´ On the other side, he assesses, ¨The total market for sensor pavers is around 300 units per annum.´
Palagiri further reflects, ¨The demand for sensor pavers has been stagnant for a considerable amount of time but with the spurt in the award of road contracts over the last 18 months, we expect a 25 per cent increase in demand for asphalt sensor pavers. The demand would be greater in the 5-6 m class segment which would be catering to mostly state highway projects.
Sunil Sapru, Chief Executive - Marketing, Ammann Apollo India Pvt Ltd, estimates, ¨The market size for wheeled sensor pavers of paving width 5-7 m is around 150 units and the market for width of 9 m and more tracked pavers is around 90 units.´ He adds, ¨Moving forward, the government may make the use of sensor pavers mandatory even for rural roads. No doubt, the increase in the award of road construction jobs will definitely drive the demand for sensor pavers but this will not be directly proportional as there is a certain percentage of idle capacity as well. Blesson Varghese, Managing Director, Marini India, assesses the market, ¨The current market size for sensor pavers in India is no less than 150 units a year. With the government targeting 40 km/day the demand is likely to stay pretty much the same which is really nice considering the fact that many new projects awarded in the last one year have been for rigid pavement.
Such projects demand for small size with optimal combination of production and flexibility for high quality and efficient road construction. These projects pave way for existing local players to adopt new technologies and capture new market share. Prantik Saha, Marketing Manager, Road Construction Equipment, Atlas Copco (India) Ltd, views the market size, ¨Sensor pavers with paving width 5.5 m (city paver class) market size is 200-225 units. In the 7 m and above paving width class, the market size is 70-75 units.´ He further adds, ¨NHAI is the main driving force for increasing the demand for sensor pavers in India. With new projects getting from approval stage to implementation, there is a positive outlook towards overall business and industry growth. The stability of the current government is also bringing in a culture of faster decision making and accountability. Today, there are some good opportunities for all contractors. The efforts of the NHAI are also well supported by state road authorities.´
Why sensor paver?
Palagiri informs, ¨Sensors pavers play a very important role in getting the right levels and grades when building the roads. The final finish of the road depends to a great extent on the accuracy delivered by these pavers, in addition to the mix quality and temperature at which it is laid and compaction is done. Vogele has been the industry pioneer over the last 50 years and have introduced several innovations like the pressure bars and electric heating of the screed, Neveltronic plus operating concept and Ergo plus operator features. With our Dash -3 pavers, we also offer the Eco plus which helps in saving fuel, Auto set plus, Pave dock assistant etc.
¨We call it paver finisher as it gives a fantastic smooth surface finish if used correctly. Sensor pavers are used to lay very smooth roads, free from undulations, so the motorist can have a smooth drive. It is important that the correct thickness and cross slope is maintained while paving. Our advanced F2500 and SD2500 series pavers with very rigid and stable, fully floating Dynapac screed gives a very accurate laying and mat finish. Features like safe impact system, thin auger gearbox, wide conveyor and advanced pave management system also contribute a lot to deliver smooth and accurate surface. But what is also required for a good finish is a homogeneous asphalt mix with correct temperature and also compaction before the asphalt loses its temperature,´ says Saha.
Sapru emphatically states, ¨Very high. The sensors provide you a better roughness index and riding quality, therefore, you will be able to achieve a very high accuracy and finish meeting the set standards.
Product features which matter
Some product features which are essential for practical applications of pavers in road building are related to the manner in which roads are constructed in the country. Irrespective of whether a road project is greenfield or brownfield, most contractors prepare patches along the route for DBM paving. Therefore, the paver has to be transported intra site frequently. For very small pavers, it is possible to transport the entire machine in a single go. However, when it comes to larger equipment, their screeds need to be disconnected along with allied components and transported separately. Similar conditions prevail for inter site movements.
Secondly, the same paver is used for variable road widths, thus requiring hydraulically extendable screeds with or without fixed mechanical extensions. For ensuring traction under load and capability to travel on steep gradients, either high engine power or tracked propulsion or both may be required. Other important aspects are screed heating and tamping system; efficient energy management and electronic contactless sensing with paving management facilities to ensure best of class road quality.
Most reputed suppliers have their own versions of delivering to these requirements. Sapru comments on Ammann Apollo products, ¨Most pavers are within the transportable width and can be moved in regular truck/trailers. With hydraulic extendible screed and easy coupling and decoupling extensions, pavers can be quickly brought into transportable mode. Most pavers with wheels make it easy to move with short distance within the site on transport mode.´
Palagiri talks about Vogele pavers offered by Wirtgen, ¨The pavers are designed for easy transportation in locally available trucks, with the hydraulically extendable screed it is quite easy. Vogele has the Autoset plus feature which helps the operator to reset the machine to the original settings with the press of one button at the new job site.¨
Varghese presents the features of Bomag pavers: ¨Magma Life: High temperatures are absolutely crucial in asphalt construction. With Magma Life we have redefined screed heating. All the heating rods are cast into one aluminium block. Because of the metal´s excellent thermal conductivity, the heat-up time is significantly shorter so the paver and team are ready for operation more quickly. Quick Coupling: Fast, simple, perfect: that´s what Bomag´s Quick Coupling stands for a smart quick-attachment system that allows screed extension without fiddly screw fastenings. Result-shorter retrofitting times and significant cost reductions. Ecomode: With the new Ecomode, Bomag offers its customers surely the most economical road paver on the market. It has an active engine and hydraulics management system which saves up to 20 per cent fuel, significantly reduces noise and has a lower negative impact on the environment. Even in the rough surroundings of a construction site, intelligent electronics pay off.¨
On equipment banks and rentals
Especially referring to accelerated developments in the rural and North-east regions, Anand Sundaresan, President, iCEMA has been highlighting the need for creating equipment banks in these regions to support smaller contractors when compared to large construction companies, who are expected to be involved in construction of roads and other projects. He has professed this concept because these contractors will not have the financial strength to procure equipment and also their investments will not be viable for much smaller ticket size of their contracts. By establishing equipment banks, they will be able to rent equipment for their jobs and return after use, thereby enabling financial viability. Similar facility can also be extended to local hirers.
In this context, Sapru opines, ¨With the thrust on infrastructure and government spending, we foresee a lot of positive drive all across. The developers have also started looking at a total solution (end to end) for the equipment, I.e. total fleet management contract which will provide enough room for the equipment bank and rentals. Though the industry is in nascent state, in the coming years we foresee a lot of development in this sector especially with decreasing interest rates.¨
Palagiri informs, ¨As of now, this has not developed. But with the introduction of GST in the coming year, the rental segment should pick up and I am sure they would look at asphalt pavers also.¨
¨There is a growing demand for rental equipment in some pockets. Some rental companies are also trying to develop their base, but we miss an organised rental player here in India,´ feels Saha.
Product range on offer
Palagiri describes Wirtgen´s offering, ¨Vogele has sensor pavers which can pave from 1.5 m paving width to a maximum of 16 m, the widest range. For smaller widths, we offer the Super800-3 which can pave from 1.5 to 3.5 m.¨
¨Atlas Copco offers Dynapac technology sensor pavers which range from 2 m to 14 m paving width both in the wheeled and tracked segment. These pavers are delivered from our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Germany. We offer both advanced PLC controlled SD2500 series and conventional electrical controlled F2500 series pavers. Our very rigid, stable yet fully floating Dynapac screed ensures best surface finish. Wide conveyor, thin auger, safe impact system, set assist, truck assist, vario speed, slidable operator platform etc are few unique features to deliver the best road at the lowest cost. We offer both efficient electrical and economical gas heated screed to choose from. And also a wide range of hydraulic and rigid screed to choose to deliver the best as per the job site conditions and requirement,´ informs Saha. He adds, ¨For small width pavers, we are exploring options from our Nashik plant in India. The specifications of the smaller width pavers will be based on technological requirements from the authority.¨
Ammann Apollo has a wider product range. Sapru elaborates, ¨We offer the entire range of sensor pavers in the wheeled and tracked segments from 2.5 m to 10 m paving width. The pavers are of the latest technology. In our fleet, we have offerings from rural roads to national highways (expressways and super expressways) ideally suited to sub-base and base courses. The company from the past four decades is quite focused on Make-in-India and provides customised solutions meeting current and future demands in paving technologies. With Ammann Apollo product range, we can offer a very small paver with 1.5 m paving width for various applications including asphalt walkways which is unique in its class.¨
It is obvious that road contractors will be the customers for pavers. The industry concurs. According to Sapru, ¨All major corporate, medium and small contractors, semi-government, government PWDs and Border Road Organisation in the road construction segment are our customers. The customers look for technology, reliability and accuracy of paving.¨
Says Palagiri, ¨All the road contractors operating the national highways and MOST projects are our customers. They look for reliability and final finish and ride quality of the road.¨
Saha also has similar customer demographic, ¨All leading road contractors in India are our customers. While buying a paver, customers are focused on accuracy level of the surface as well as reliability of the equipment. And here we score maximum.
Government policies making the difference
Palagiri says, ¨With the introduction of GST in the coming year, the rental segment should pick up and I am sure they would look at asphalt pavers also.¨
Sapru adds, ¨Governments making the use of sensor pavers compulsory even for municipal roads/ MDR/city roads etc will improve the utilisation of sensor pavers. Besides, we look for airports, smart cities and racing tracks etc.
Saha mentions, ¨Rural road construction comes under PMGSY where for small and narrow roads, few are concrete roads, currently basic mechanical pavers are being used. However, there is a gradual upgradation to sensor paver. Near future good roads with improved specifications will become the norm in rural areas as well.
Sapru, on a high note says, ¨On the growth mode for at least three years.¨
Emerging market drivers
Innovative products from Wirtgen for speedy road building
High-tech material feeder for greater quality and cost efficiency SprayJet technology from VÖGELE has been proving its value for many years and is used for pavement rehabilitation and construction in many markets around the world. The new SprayJet features a large array of impressive innovations. One key feature is that operation of the spray module has been integrated into the ErgoPlus 3 operating concept. The module is designed as a completely self-contained functional unit. This modular design makes the new SUPER 1800-3i SprayJet simple to service and allows it to be used both as a spray paver and as a conventional asphalt paver. The paver has a maximum spray width of 6 m. As a conventional paver without spray function it can pave widths of up to 9m.
Making quality measurable is one of the big issues for contractors and clients worldwide. One of the key criteria for the durability of roads is maintaining a constant temperature of the freshly paved asphalt. As a result, the significance of area-wide temperature monitoring is currently on the rise in more and more markets. With RoadScan, VÖGELE´s contactless temperature measurement system, the company is on the leading edge of this future trend.
InLine Pave is a particularly efficient means of building durable roads. Paving the binder and surface courses ¨hot on hot´ offers several advantages. Instead of the usual 8 cm binder course and 4cm surface course, for instance, a different ratio can be selected for the thickness of the individual layers. When using InLine Pave, the hot binder course prevents the surface course cooling too quickly. The higher temperature of the pavement makes it possible to pave thinner surfacings. In Horb, for instance, the surface course was just 2 cm thick. The higher temperature of the surface course means that a higher density with fewer voids can be achieved during the subsequent final compaction by rolling.
The VÖGELE MT 3000-2i Offset Power Feeder for the North American and Australian markets is a powerful, innovative material transfer vehicle whose outstanding feature is an uninterrupted, non-contacting material transfer, guaranteeing the maximum paving quality with the greatest possible cost efficiency. This is, among others, due to the cutting-edge material conveying concept. With a large receiving hopper, a huge total storage capacity (material feeder and paver) and a peak conveying performance of 1,320 tonne/h (1,200 tonne/h), this VÖGELE Power Feeder can empty a full truckload in just 60 seconds. The conveyor of the MT 3000-2i Offset pivots to the left and right, opening up a wide range of possible applications. The ErgoPlus operating system guarantees simple, reliable handling. Automatic distance control combined with anti-collision protection ensures that the material transfer runs smoothly.
Technologies offered by Wirtgen
- Shankar Srivastava