THE ROAD AHEAD: INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY FOR 2018 & BEYOND
Despite the divisive times we’re living in, there’s at least one issue most agree on: It’s time to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. Past time actually. So when will Congress fund an infrastructure bill? Nobody knows. But senior execs from the Highway/Heavy/Civil (H/H/C) sector—whose opinions were captured in FMI’s 2Q 2017 Construction Outlook—remain optimistic.
Here’s their take on a spending bill
- 58 percent expect to begin seeing an impact in 2018.
- 53 percent say new infrastructure programs could increase annual revenues by 5 to 10 percent; 22 percent anticipate a 10 to 15 percent revenue boost.
- The top two beneficiaries will likely be highway construction (57 percent) and bridge and tunnel work (34 percent). Railways, airports, waterways and wastewater won’t get much attention.
How about the impact on labor?
- 23 percent say a spending bill will have a positive effect on hiring because the construction job will be viewed as a sustainable source of income.
- 21 percent expect labor costs to rise, given the tight labor market.
- 19 percent believe the combination of higher labor costs and fewer workers will drive H/H/C contractors to adopt new processes and technologies.
Investing for the future
Acquiring roadbuilding technology now—before business takes off—could be a strategic move, especially if the investment prepares you to work more efficiently with fewer people at a lower total cost.
There are plenty of technologies to consider, including one called Machine Drive Power or MDP. It’s a measurement technology, integrated into Cat® soil compactors, that tracks rolling resistance on the go. Rolling resistance refers to the amount of energy required to propel a machine over a given surface. It provides a good indication of soil stiffness and load-bearing strength, two factors that help determine whether soil has been compacted enough to support a road being built on it.
MDP measures rolling resistance in real time and delivers results to a screen in the cab, making it easy for operators to assess work in progress. If the image on the display is green, soil compaction targets have been met, so the operator can move on to the next location. If the image is red, there’s more work to do. It’s that simple.
The big benefit
Roadbuilders who have already invested in MDP say its primary benefit is its ability to ensure uniform compaction across an entire site. Typically, compaction levels are verified on just one percent of a site area. But since this system measures the whole area, contractors can be more confident that site-wide uniformity has been achieved. That translates into less rework, fewer downstream road repairs and longer road life.
Higher productivity at a lower cost
Productivity is another key benefit. One company using MDP says its operators are now reaching target density with 75 percent fewer passes. As a result, jobs get finished faster, fuel costs are lower and there’s less wear and tear on the compactors. Compaction testing costs have also been reduced by 75 percent.
Efficient and accurate in many applications
MDP works well in all soil types, including clay and other cohesive materials. It’s more accurate than accelerometer-based measurement technology and can be used on smooth drums, padfoot drums or smooth drums equipped with padfoot shell kits. The technology is scalable and works whether the vibratory system is on or off.
Planning your advantage
Although it’s frustrating to wait for an infrastructure spending bill, now could be an excellent time to prepare your business for an uptick in highway, bridge and tunnel projects. A strategic investment in technologies like MDP could help you navigate the road ahead—efficiently and profitably.
Watch two compactors at work, one using MDP, the other, using traditional compaction processes. You won’t believe the difference: