The successful construction of asphalt roads requires the coordination of asphalt plants, transportation facilities, pavers and compactors. The complex logistics behind this process, can be influenced by environmental, technical, social and managerial factors. For example, if an asphalt batch is dispatched too soon from the asphalt plant, the delivering truck might need to wait on-site, reducing productivity and making difficult to preserve the minimum temperature at which the asphalt mix need to be laid-down and compacted. Some studies have estimated that around 5% of the construction sum is spent on fixing defects like that.
To solve this, different companies provide nowadays digital tools for smart fleet management, optimal machine operation and cross-process collaboration. This includes the development of GPS positioning tracks and records location data, efficient communication channels, common communication protocols and languages and the set-up of a central cloud management system where each machine can upload the data produced.
These tools allow the digital interconnection of asphalt plant, machines, devices and vehicles working on the same construction job. In addition, data from the traffic, environment (e.g. weather conditions and forecast) and construction processes are collected and transferred in real time. The fleet can be monitored and the logistics can be dynamically readjusted in real time and based on actual circumstances.
Scheme of logistics management tools
For example, by integrating asphalt plants and live vehicle tracking, the asphalt plant can be aware, in advance, of the pending arrival of trucks, so the production scheme at the plant can be optimized. The information coming from integrated asphalt plants and pavers allows a just-in-time scheduling of asphalt deliveries, which reduces the number of dump trucks that need to be available on site. Furthermore, the temperature of asphalt is known at any time thanks to on-board truck temperature sensors or by applying machine learning algorithms. Then, having integrated pavers with logistics components, the speed and the throughput of the paver, as well as compactor parameters, can be re-adjusted, while considering the material currently on the way.
These tools can also improve safety and security. For example, by incorporating keypads to activate or deactivate construction machines, companies can prevent the use of the machine by non-qualified operators. Moreover, the company can keep track of the machine hours-of-use every day, which simplifies the re-allocation of machines in different jobsites and optimises the maintenance plan. This, together with GPS systems, also allows the company to be aware when a piece of equipment travels out of a specific area (i.e. when stolen) and who was the last person who used it.
With these technologies, documentation becomes also simpler, as the construction process can be also easily controlled by using real time data derived from the construction site and supplied directly to smartphones and/or tablets that can be used on-site or in any other place. The full benefit depends on an environment where data exchange is open and standardised. In addition, the job quality can be continuously monitored and documented into a cloud server providing telematic access to the client, project managers and relevant stakeholders. Each stakeholder retains sovereignty on the data they produce. In order to protect such data, every company has a completely isolated application container, the individual access is only granted to authorised people and security protocols are set-up.