AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference and Exhibition

Sustainability, perpetual pavements, roads as a service and continual improvement took centre stage at the 18th AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference and Exhibition.

When the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) was formed in 1969, the industry was exclusively using batch plants. As the first man stepped foot on the moon, a wide paving machine hit the streets to accelerate paving productivity.

In half a century machinery and ideas have developed dramatically from a wide paving machine in the ‘70s to a forward-moving aggregate spreader today.

In the ‘90s an environmental guide was created by AAPA for asphalt plants best practice. Today contractors are not only recycling asphalt and bitumen-based materials but also incorporating other waste streams such as glass or rubber into its asphalt mixes.

The International Flexible Pavements Conference and Exhibition, held every two years, took place in Sydney over four days, bringing together a mix of the road construction industry’s latest equipment and knowledge.

“Everlasting roads, enabling our future mobility” set the central theme of the conference.

Spray sealing, perpetual pavements that require minimum maintenance, bitumen viscosity, recycled asphalt pavements, binder specification and warm asphalt mixing were among an array of topics covered over the four-day conference.

Erik Denneman from Puma Energy was one of the opening speakers of the conference with a presentation covering the conference history and IMO 2020, a current regulation change that has the potential to alter the quality of bitumen in Australia.

Mr. Denneman highlighted the four main themes of the conference, sustainability, preservation, roads as a service and continual improvement in industry practice.

He then detailed the latest change to worldwide refineries, IMO 2020 a regulation introduced by the International Maritime Organisation to reduce the amount of sulphur in marine fuels.

AAPA CEO Carlos Rial

Mr. Denneman explained this could have flow on effects to bitumen with the possibility of reducing its quality.

“Bitumen manufacture and supply is becoming increasingly complex and the IMO 2020 impact is only expected to exacerbate this. Advanced screening testing is a necessity. We need to go well beyond the testing in the specification to make sure we bring in quality bitumen,” Mr. Denneman said.

On the final day, Tyre Stewardship Australia chaired a workshop with presentations by Senior Strategy Manager Liam O’Keefe, Puma Bitumen’s Erik Denneman, Tyrecycle’s Clinton Habner and Fulton Hogan’s Darryl Byrne.

Audiences comprising road owners/government, contractors, designers, binder suppliers and industry organisations were able to vote on what drove their use of crumb rubber.

More than 60 participants voted that performance, followed by initial costs, whole-of-life costs and sustainability drove their product selection.

Around 80 per cent of participants also currently use crumb rubber, but up to 70 per cent said there were not adequate specifications/guidelines in place.

Throughout the conference industry was able to present and learn about the latest issues and solutions to these topics, all while seeing and experiencing emerging equipment and technology at the exhibition.

The exhibition hall was filled with machines of all sizes from Dynapac’s latest 10 tonne double drum roller, to Position Partner’s GPS line marking machine.

Roads & Infrastructure spoke to a few of the exhibitors about the conference and the benefits of exhibiting the latest industry equipment.

Niki Johnstone from N2P Controls had an exhibit to demonstrate the company’s asphalt plant control system. He said the conference has been great for exposure and creating new relationships.

“I think the reason we got involved with AAPA is because conferences like this brings everyone together in one place to have the opportunity to increase your brand and make contacts,” Mr. Johnstone said.

The conference and exhibition side by side allowed people from across the industry to learn about best practice and to see it in action. Max Fitzgerald owner of Road Maintenance said the conference was a great chance to meet a range of industry people.

“We chose to come because I feel that there is a good interest in using recycled material in bitumen product which will benefit Australia overall,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

Having only joined AAPA a month ago, Scott Craik from C R Kennedy said the exhibition has been great to showcase products and learn about the industry.

“It is good to be able to catch up and talk to industry directly and get their feedback about what it is they want, what their challenges are, and what they really need to streamline their businesses,” Mr. Craik said.

The four-day event showcased the best and latest developments from the constantly evolving pavements sector.

Industry members were able to establish and strengthen relationships while sharing a breadth of knowledge to enhance the industry as it moves into the future.

AAPA and its members are now looking at the next 50 years. The road construction industry is preparing for what changes might occur with technology and demand to ensure roads can best serve the community for the years to come.

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