International Flexible Pavements Conference looks at everlasting roads

In the coming years it is anticipated that a continual increase in road construction and maintenance activity is likely to occur, according to a report from the Australian Asphalt Pavements Association (AAPA).

Overall, there is sufficient capacity in the supply of asphalt, however the supply of aggregate for spray seal delivery can pose a challenge. Aggregate between seven and 10 millimetres is in high demand in Victoria, which poses time constraints because they cannot produce enough for the demand and this can impact on the cost effectiveness of projects.

With increasing demand for the industry to provide asphalt with an extended lifetime and quality, key players must look at innovative ideas and technology to meet expectations. Creating everlasting roads and enabling future mobility will therefore be the focus of the 18th AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference and Exhibition. The event will run from 18-21 August at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

This year, the conference received a record number of paper submissions and international participants. International industry experts will to travel from around the world to share their expertise, ideas and new technologies. The international guests will present various developments from Europe, America and beyond. The event is expected to enable the industry and government to learn from overseas partners and incorporate new ideas.

There will be four main focus topics covered over the course of the three-day conference. The first is exploring the idea of a circular economy – instead of using and disposing of a product, companies can look to extend their lifecycle for as long as possible.

Erik Denneman, the AAPA’s Director of Technology and Leadership, spoke to Roads and Infrastructure Australia and says, because asphalt is 100 per cent recyclable, the opportunities are endless.

Ideas explored at the conference will explain how a circular economy can link with other industries to utilise waste.

“We are also looking at how we can help other industries with their waste problems. There is a session on the use of tyre rubber in asphalt and there has been attention lately, particularly from local government, on the use of plastics in asphalt,” Mr. Denneman says.

The conference will explore ideas about preserving and rehabilitating roads. Speakers will look into the issue of a backlog with regard to maintenance funding in parts of the road network. It will look at how to preserve the functionality of current pavements, how best to rehabilitate pavements that need to be repaired or strengthened, and the idea of early intervention to prevent issues occurring in the first place.

Roads as a Service will look to the future and focus on the way electric and autonomous vehicles will impact road infrastructure. Autonomous vehicles are expected to change loading patterns and traffic density used in pavement design. This will form another focus for the conference.

Continual Improvement, the fourth topic, covers the industry’s commitment to safety, sustainability, quality and consistency and how these attributes can be delivered and improved with new technology or industry practices.

Mr. Denneman says that looking at how to use smart technologies in the industry to improve the uniformity of outcomes will be an important focus.

“At the exhibition there will be the latest equipment that is available for improved efficiency and productivity in the industry,” he says.

The three-day exhibition will run alongside the conference and exhibitors from around the world will showcase their equipment, highlighting the problems it solves. Attendees will be able to learn from industry professionals about new technologies first hand. There will also be numerous papers about the use of reused asphalt.

Mr. Denneman says that the industry will learn exactly how to can utilise more reclaimed asphalt into new asphalt pavements.

A specific day at the conference will be dedicated professional education in the industry.

“There is a lot of attention for training and how we provide the appropriate recognition for people working in our industry,” says Mr. Denneman.

He says that there is a need to better exemplify job opportunities and make the occupation look more attractive to young people.

Hugh Bradlow, President of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, will be the main speaker for the event. Mr. Bradlow has an influential background in forecasting technological changes within the industry, such as the introduction of smart technology to aid processes like asphalt compaction. Mr. Bradlow will be able to provide insight and give knowledge around how to tackle and best utilise new technologies.

Other speakers so far announced include Dr. George K. Chang, P.E – founder of the International Intelligent Construction Technologies Group (IICTG); Dr. David Timm – Brasfield & Gorrie Professor of Civil Engineering at Auburn University; and Darren Hill – a behavioural scientist and best-selling author.

Exhibitors include the Ammann Group, Huesker Group, N2P Controls, Controls Group, Assignar, Bliss and Reels, Hansoo Road Industry and Pragmatic Thinking.

The 18th AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference and Exhibition will look to the future in every sense of the word. It will explore the exciting technological prospects for the industry, new innovations and how to better promote industry work.

Registrations are open now.

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