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New Product Review – NextGel

Almost no dust, no haze and faster installation are promised by Techniseal for NextGel joint sand stabilizer. After introducing polymeric sand to the market over 15 years ago, Techniseal brings a significant improvement after embarking on upgrading its stabilizer products some five years ago. Jointing sand stabilizer was invented to accelerate interlock while preventing sand loss from runoff and wind, as well as discouraging ants and weeds.

Dust from some jointing sand stabilizers requires a lengthy cleanup, and if not done properly, results in an ugly, hard-to-remove haze on pavers. “The guys who are in a hurry to get to the next job don’t sweep exactly as they should, don’t use the leaf blower, and didn’t wait until the paver surface dried enough. Then you’ve got a missed hit,” says Al Dorais, Techniseal’s president. To minimize dust, Techniseal created a heavier, more homogeneous particle size. This reduces the smallest particles that caused dust and haze. “The smallest particles embed into a paver surface, so the trick was to create much bigger particles while still stabilizing all of them,” says Mr. Dorais.

The larger particles in NextGel also allow water to flow more easily and evenly to activate the polymer stabilizer down to the bottom of the joints. This makes the wetting process 50 percent faster, according to Techniseal. The combination of reduced dust, no haze and a speedier wetting process promises a faster installation time overall. Assuming a 1000 sf installation, Techniseal estimates that NextGel will save about 70 minutes on installation time compared to competitors’ products. Multiply this by the annual area of projects, and the efficiencies could be significant, not to mention reducing callback time and income losses to clean up surface haze.

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International Conference in Fatherland of Concrete Pavers

The international concrete block paving industry affirms its technological development by conferencing every three years. The technical conferences support the continued growth of the global concrete paver industry, which manufactures one square foot (0.1 m²) of segmental concrete paving for every person on Earth every year.

With over 400 attendees and exhibitors, the 11th International Conference on Concrete Block Paving (ICCBP) held Sept. 9–11, 2015, in Dresden, Germany, was a declaration on the advanced state-of-the-art technology from the industry Fatherland. Germany earned this moniker by having the highest per capita use of segmental concrete paving. Annual sales are somewhere past 15 sf/person or a total of around 1.2 to 1.5 billion sf (120 to 150 million m²). For the record, the industry Motherland is the Netherlands, where the concrete block paving industry was born in the 1950s.

The Dresden conference included 2½ days of presentations and social events organized by Dr. Frohmut Weller, Dr. Sabine Leischner and Juliane Kraft with the Technical University of Dresden. Additional support was provided by Susanne Brachthäuser-Berg from conference sponsor FGSV, the German acronym for the Research Association for Roads and Transportation. The conference included a technical tour to a paver production mold factory hosted by Kobra Molds.

Of the 37 technical papers from 15 countries presented over 2½ days, 13 were on permeable interlocking concrete pavements (PICP). One of the most significant papers was presented by Dr. David Jones with the University of California (Davis) Pavement Research Center on full-scale PICP accelerated load testing. The research produced pavement thickness design charts adopted by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute and included in a draft standard on PICP design, construction and maintenance now nearing completion by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Among several significant papers from Germany, one covered the extent of crown required in an interlocking concrete pavement road surface to maximize progressive stiffening (interlock) and increased load-distribution across the pavement. A paper from Dr. Anne Beeldens with the Belgium Road Research Centre illustrated how stormwater runoff restrictions in Belgium have stimulated deployment of PICP there, in a manner not unlike the United States. A paper presented by Alessandra Smolek, doctoral candidate with North Carolina State University, demonstrated substantial pollutant and volume reductions by PICP over clay soils with infiltration rates at 0.01 in/hour (0.0254 cm/hr).

Another significant paper from Germany explained how paving slabs can be used to reduce road noise, as well as another by environmental consultants, PE International, comparing the environmental impacts of interlocking concrete pavements to other pavement systems, and demonstrating that impacts from the former are lowest. The Germans continued their environmental-friendliness theme with papers on solar reflectance and how it can help reduce the urban heat island, and photocatalytic surfaces on concrete pavers to reduce nitrous oxides and photochemical smog.

Slotted for spring 2018, the next conference in Seoul, South Korea, will be sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Having a regional government as a sponsor is a first for the series of international conferences as they are typically hosted by universities and industry. An interesting aspect is that the Seoul sidewalk department is participating to affirm and expand the role of concrete paver sidewalks in the Seoul region. This magazine will keep readers informed of developments on this conference.

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HNA 2015 Project Awards

The HNA Hardscape Project Awards recognize outstanding hardscape projects by contractors building residential walkways, patios, driveways, commercial plazas, parking lots and streets.

In its eighth year, the awards program received 75 entries. Fourteen winners and seven honorable mentions received recognition at an awards ceremony on Oct. 22, 2015, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Entries were judged on project intent, design, quality of construction and craftsmanship, compatibility with related construction materials and systems, construction innovation, detailing and overall design excellence.

Combination – Commercial: Less than 20,000 SF

DeSoto AmphitheaterDeSoto Amphitheater

  • LOCATION: Millersburg, PA
  • INSTALLER: GoldGlo Landscapes LLC
  • SUPPLIER: E.P. Henry

This outdoor performing arts venue sits on a steep slope between Wiconisco Creek and the Ned Smith Center. The design needed to seat 250 guests, plus have room for tables and chairs on the paver dining terrace and deck. Existing soil under the walls, steps and patios was replaced with over 750 tons of gravel. The craftsmanship is visible in every detail, from the gentle curve of the seating to the installation of the engraved seat caps and pavers. The sod between the terraces serves as a permeable drainage system and helps cool the guests.

Combination – Commercial: More than 20,000 SF

Ithaca Commons Streetscape 2Ithaca Commons Streetscape

  • LOCATION: Ithaca, NY
  • INSTALLER: Syrstone, Inc.
  • SUPPLIER: Hanover Architectural Products

Ithaca Commons included over 67,000 sf of vehicular concrete pavers, with granite pavers and curbs. Hardscape challenges on this project included many grade changes leading to over 1,500 linear feet of drains while keeping the running pattern of the narrow plank-style paving visually true over two blocks. Another challenge was cutting thousands of linear feet of diagonal accent bands around manholes and other apprentices. Alternating color blends were used within each cell, framed with diagonal accent bands. Pavers were installed with polymeric jointing sand on an ASTM C33 sand bed over a reinforced concrete slab with weep holes.

Combination – Residential: Less than 4,000 SF

italian villa 4Italian Villa

  • LOCATION: Fort Collins, CO
  • INSTALLER: Lindgren Landscape
  • SUPPLIER: Belgard

The homeowners desired a warm, Italian-inspired outdoor living space. The existing landscape was an ocean of junipers and a concrete patio with little shade. The remodeling included shade structures, a kitchen, fireplace and bocce court. A 10-foot change in elevation presented a challenge in grading and safety, and is navigated by way of huge slab stairs meandering down the slope. A drainage system was designed to evacuate water from the sunken oyster shell-covered bocce court. Although plans and 3-D models were made to portray the project to the homeowners, on-site meetings and extensive communication were necessary throughout the project to explain the components and to make changes as desired.

Combination – Residential: More than 4,000 SF

Taunton Resort 5Taunton Resort

  • LOCATION: Minnetrista, MN
  • INSTALLER: Mom’s Landscaping & Design
  • SUPPLIER: Anchor Block Co.

The main focus of the design was the infinity pool, with the infinity edge facing the lake. A large lounging patio features light-colored travertine and a bluestone inlay. The bluestone was also carried into the overlook fire pit patio with 4-inch-wide planking. There is a water feature with plants to break up the hardscapes. A 6,000 sf driveway was installed in the front yard. One of the biggest challenges was the 23 feet of grade change from the walkout basement to the shoreline. Three curved ledgestone retaining walls were built to correct the grade. Bluestone steps with a charcoal paver walkway were installed down the hillside.

Concrete Paver – Commercial: Less than 15,000 SF

University of Nevada, Reno Wolfpack Logo Baseball ProjectUniversity of Nevada, Reno Wolfpack Logo Baseball Project

  • LOCATION: Reno, NV
  • INSTALLER: Hain Enterprises
  • SUPPLIER: Basalite Concrete Products

The material and labor for this UNR Wolfpack baseball stadium project were donated in appreciation of the university’s importance and contributions to the community. The intricate design contains some 2,400 sf of Basalite San Francisco Cobble in Positanocolor laid in an “I” pattern. The baseball was created with specially made white San Francisco Cobble rectangles. The wolf is done in the same paver, but in black. The teeth of the UNR mascot, Wolfie, were meticulously cut by hand and inset. The stitching of the baseball is in Chili Pepper Red Mission-style pavers, and arcs were cut into the pavement.

Concrete Paver – Commercial: More than 15,000 SF

MEGA Snake and Ladder Paver ProjectMEGA Snake and Ladder Paver Project

  • LOCATION: Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
  • INSTALLER AND SUPPLIER: DUCON Industries FZCO

This project serves as the centerpiece of a play area for approximately 4,000 students at a primary school located in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., and as the starting point to the possibilities of designing other enlarged board games carved in pavers. This project extends beyond the snake and ladder game to a general play area covered with stretched fabric that reflects the underlying theme of this paver installation. The boundaries of the paver design were pushed by the inclusion of numerous shapes and curves overlapping a cubical structure.

Concrete Paver – Permeable: Residential

r97VNJ83RCCTK7xSZW0P_firelane_3_res_02Firelane Road Residence

  • LOCATION: Menasha, WI
  • INSTALLER: Stumpf Creative Landscaping
  • SUPPLIER: County Materials Corp.

Only 90 feet from Lake Winnebago, this home had to comply with state regulations requiring permeable surfaces on paved areas of waterfront properties. Three sizes of permeable pavers were used in a 75/25 percent mix of a blended buff and solid cream color. The 4 in x 8 in size was used to create an eye-catching double border with dark brown sailor course on the inside, edged with a soldier course of the same cream color used in the drive. A matching walkway defines the entryway. Limestone boulders provide a decorative accent that helps transition the hardscape with the surrounding areas.

Concrete Paver – Residential: Less than 3,000 SF

The Hollywood DrivewayThe Hollywood Driveway

  • LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
  • INSTALLER: Go Pavers
  • SUPPLIER: Olsen Pavingstones

The project involved installing a concrete paver driveway to a house located on a hillside. The delivery of materials to the project’s location at the top of the hill required the use of more manpower. A flat top textured paver design was installed in the driveway, giving the project a modern, contemporary look desired by the homeowners. The Timber Top design of the pavers used gave the appearance of wood flooring. Charcoal-colored pavers were chosen, best fitting the aesthetic of a driveway. The pattern used for the project was “Random Runner,” meaning the pavers are laid side-by-side in a linear pattern, which appears more than the actual total size of the installation at 2,450 sf.

Concrete Paver – Residential: More than 3,000 SF

Country Courtyard 3Country Courtyard

  • LOCATION: McCook, NE
  • INSTALLER: Grindstone Hardscapes
  • SUPPLIER: Belgard

The goal for this 4,560 sf patio, driveway and front entry was entertainment value with function for everyday life. The design was composed with three different pavers, using the same accent bands throughout. The front entry, driveway and fireplace all used a rustic Mega Arbel, while the sidewalks and main patio paved with the texture of Urbanas and Rustic Slabs. The 900 sf driveway leads past a small water feature and up to the front entry, or past a large waterfall to the backyard, which includes a fireplace, seating, outdoor kitchen, and lighting and heating features.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

 
Concrete Paver – Residential – Less than 3,000 sf

Spa Oasis 2

  • PROJECT: Spa Oasis
  • INSTALLER: GoldGlo Landscapes LLC

 

Concrete Paver – Commercial – Less than 15,000 sf

Lake Forest Country Club 3

  • PROJECT: Lake Forest Country Club
  • INSTALLER: Rock Bottom Lawn & Landscaping

 

Concrete Paver – Commercial – More than 15,000 sf

Westlake Shopping Center 5

  • PROJECT: Westlake Shopping Center
  • INSTALLER: Joos Lawnscapes Inc.

 

Combination – Residential – Less than 4,000 sf

Hassel Residence

  • PROJECT: Hassel Residence
  • INSTALLER: Paver Designs LLC

 

Combination – Residential – Less than 4,000 sf

Woodlands retreat 5

  • PROJECT: Woodland Retreat
  • INSTALLER: GoldGlo Landscapes LLC

 

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The Right Tool for the Job

One of the most important investments any contractor can make is in the right equipment. Efficient tools increase productivity, and this goes straight to the bottom line and to business success. The right tools with proper training help make crews safer by reducing injuries to backs, knees, fingers and elbows. Maintaining a healthy, efficient crew is essential to profitability.

“I have invested a lot of money and time into training my guys,” says Bill Gardocki, owner of Interstate Landscape Co. in New Hampshire. “I want them to be around on the crew for a long time.”

Mr. Gardocki, who has more than 40 years of experience in the hardscape industry, presented at Hardscape North America (HNA) in October with his son, Tom Gardocki, about the importance of investing in tools that promote health and maximize productivity. “The thing about tools is efficiency, speed and saving my guys’ backs, fingers and knees,” says Bill Gardocki.

During their HNA presentation, the Gardockis showcased and demoed some of the tools they have found to be the most beneficial for use on the job. They made a point to specifically not endorse any particular brand. The focus of their discussion informs the audience about the types of tools they rely upon as professionals.

PaverMARKERs

The Pave Edge paver marker lasts one month and doesn’t need sharpening.

Two new tools they’ve recently begun using are now among their favorites: One costs less than a dollar, the other around $12,000. The Paver Marker from Pave Tech saved their crews hours upon hours per week in labor, Bill Gardocki says, replacing the pencils, knives or whatever used previously to mark pavers for cutting. Just one marker will last a month and does not require sharpening.

The other new favorite tool of the Gardockis is called the Trimble System, an aftermarket package of sensors and a monitor that use GPS to provide precision accuracy for depth finding and can be installed on virtually any excavator. With a price around $12,000, this 2-D sensor system eliminates getting out of the cab of the excavator to measure while digging or grading, or having another crew member with a grade rod involved in these tasks.

The Trimble GCSFlex Grade Control System features body and boom sensors that can be retrofitted to most excavators. Using GPS, the system provides precise depth-finding information for the operator via an in-cab display monitor.

The Trimble GCSFlex Grade Control System features body and boom sensors that can be retrofitted to most excavators. Using GPS, the system provides precise depth-finding information for the operator via an in-cab display monitor.

Another key piece of equipment for safety and efficiency is the right-sized skid-steer loader. “I can’t tell you how many people buy undersized skid-steers because they say they can’t afford that extra $10,000 required to actually lift a full pallet of material,” says Tom Gardocki. “Instead, the crew has to unload three layers off of every pallet [before it can be moved]. You have to think about all the time it’s taking. You’re going to make up that $10,000 real quick.”

Many hardscape business owners initially opt for smaller pieces of equipment because they are lower in cost. However, this eventually costs more in the long run because of additional labor required. “You must have tools for efficiency. The average profit margin in this industry is 6 percent,” says Bill Gardocki. “One mistake on your job site, one breakdown on your job site, and that’s it. That’s your profit margin gone for that job.”

This problem is particularly pervasive when it comes to compaction, which is one of the most important things in pavement, explains Steve Jones, president of Pave Tech. “Compaction is one of those things you can’t start small; you have to start at a mid-range size because it is a time-consuming thing,” says Mr. Jones. “With a small compactor you can get the job done. It may take you two days, but with the right machine, it can get done in two hours.”

The Paver Pounder is a multi-bit utility tool with slide action that saves wear and tear on elbows and backs.

The Paver Pounder is a multi-bit utility tool with slide action that saves wear and tear on elbows and backs.

The Gardockis started using a plate compactor with a roller attachment about two years ago because 70 percent of their installations were paving slabs. They now use compactors with roller attachments on every single job.

When it comes to slabs, there are clamps and suction tools that prevent finger, back and knee injuries; make installation of slabs much easier; and also minimize cracking. According to Bill Gardocki, there is a steady growth in popularity of slab installations. This trend puts these tools high on the priority list.

Another favorite tool of the Gardockis is the Paver Pounder: a slide hammer that can use multiple attachments. With a breaker bit attached, this tool allows the installer, from a standing position, to crack a paver for removal rather than kneeling and whacking it with a hammer. This tool helps prevent tennis elbow, a painful condition that affects many while paving, as well as knee and back injuries.

Bottom line: To run a successful business, invest in tools that improve crew safety and boost productivity. “Compaction equipment: $12,000; small tools: $8,000; ancillary tools: $10,000. That’s $30,000, the price of your average pickup truck,” says Bill Gardocki. “Those are the tools that you need to be efficient in the hardscape industry.”

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Taking the Long View

When the city of North Bay, Ontario, explored the use of interlocking concrete pavers for its heavily trafficked downtown city center in the early 1980s, officials of this city of 54,000 wanted to know they’d be getting the most for their money. Not only did the resulting installation meet aesthetic and functional goals, it has since become a model of low-maintenance cost savings that has proved durable well beyond its projected lifespan of 20 years.

At the time of its completion in 1983, the $3 million, 150,000 sf (13,900 m²) Main Street project, which included roadway and sidewalks constructed on the full width of the road allowance, was hailed for its aesthetic contribution to a revitalized downtown business and retail district. When surveyed eight and 16 years later, the pavement was found to be performing exceptionally well under high traffic and extreme weather conditions, with little evidence of distress, despite minimal maintenance needed. In fact, after 12 years, a city official confirmed that there had been no maintenance at all. In addition, a 1999 life cycle cost analysis that compared the concrete paver installation with a local control section of hot-mix asphalt pavement found a difference of about $76,000/lane-km in maintenance costs favoring the concrete pavers.

Thirty-two years later, the installation is still performing, though finally ready for replacement, says Adam Lacombe, P. Eng, North Bay senior capital program engineer. The city is budgeting for a paver replacement to begin in 2017 or 2018. “Main Street has always been the centerpiece of the city, and the [pavers] set it off,” he says. “We are [considering] replacing them for their aesthetic quality and lifespan.”

Extreme Applications

The Main Street project was conceived at a time when the city of North Bay was planning to update its central business district with a more people-friendly scale and unified appearance. As part of the transformation, approximately 50 percent of the on-street parking was recommended for removal. In its place, designers envisioned wider sidewalks, boulevard areas and the addition of trees and planting areas, new benches, underground wiring and new streetlights.

Aiming to attract shoppers to a refreshed retail destination at a time when traditional Main Street businesses were losing business to shopping malls, North Bay’s Engineering and Public Works Departments gave interlocking concrete pavers first consideration in part for their potential to create an aesthetic identity for the district. But another major goal was to find a pavement that could handle an expected traffic volume of 8,000 vehicles per day (5 percent delivery trucks and buses), as well as snow removal and harsh weather conditions.

In North Bay, temperatures can range from −40 C in winter to 35 C in summer, and punishing freeze-thaw cycles occur throughout the winter months, with frost depths of up to 8 ft (2.4 m). The Main Street roadway would be subject to approximately 300 tons of salt annually, as well as the regular impact of the carbide steel blades used on snow-removing graders, slushers and plows.

At the time of the project’s conception, interlocking concrete pavers were already in use in high-load, harsh-weather projects around the world, and were just beginning to gain wider interest for heavy-use projects in North America. Just one year before the North Bay Main Street pavement was installed, 610,000 sf (56,700 m²) of interlocking concrete pavement was used in what is now called the Pier IX Terminal, in Newport News, VA. This facility handles ground storage of coal, so the pavers are subject to high loads from coal storage piles and abrasive loads from steel-tracked bulldozers. This provided an example of durability in an industrial setting.

North Bay officials had some experience with concrete pavers, which had successfully performed in an area around city hall for five winters under de-icing salts. But that area was not subject to vehicular traffic, so additional evidence was sought to prove the material and its installation could withstand projected traffic load and environmental conditions long-term.

A seminar that brought in experts from Australia, England and the Netherlands demonstrated to North Bay stakeholders how pavers had performed successfully under extreme loads and weather conditions in container ports, airports and roadways. Presenters offered compelling evidence that, when designed and executed correctly, the installation would withstand the rigors of a heavily trafficked Northern Ontario Main Street.

Best Practices Defined

The manufacturers, designers, engineers and installers involved in the Main Street installation set their sights on creating a state-of-the-art model showcase for what was recognized as a high-profile project. The pavers were manufactured to resist abrasion and freeze-thaw conditions, meet compressive strength and absorption standards, and were subject to a salt immersion test. Installation included a compacted subbase and base, edge restraints in the form of cast-in-place concrete curbs, concrete collars around utility structures such as manholes to offer a stationary restraint for the pavers, a herringbone pattern to provide the greatest degree of interlock (except in the crosswalks, which use a running bond pattern), and a slight crown in the roadway to allow for natural settling and drainage after construction. Sub-drains were utilized in some locations and surface water was designed to flow to catch basins and storm sewers.

During construction, installers performed regular density checks of the base with a nuclear density gauge to achieve the specified level of compaction that is critical to long-term performance. Nearing the end of installation, a plate compactor was used to force bedding sand into the joints and to facilitate the process of paver interlock, which in turn enables the transfer of vehicular load from paver to paver.

From today’s perspective, the North Bay Main Street project helped define best practices for interlocking concrete pavement manufacture and installation, some of which later became ASTM and CSA standards, including those for compressive strength, freeze-thaw durability and dimensional durability, and remain in use today.

Test of Durability

At eight years post-construction, an engineering consultancy performed a detailed condition survey and non-destructive deflection testing of the Main Street pavement. The survey found that about 4 percent of the approximately 57,000 sf of pavement surveyed had depressions concentrated in an area that had been subject to improper repair of the base when reinstalled after utility repairs. Another section that showed spalling resulted from incomplete joint filling and subsequently pavers losing interlock. Aside from this, the report concluded that the pavements provided “excellent performance…surface deformation occurs in less than 1.5 percent of the pavement areas surveyed,” and that the pavers were in “very good to excellent condition.”

Sixteen years after completion, in 1999, a geotechnical engineering consultant performed another condition survey that included a comparison with a local control section of asphalt pavement. It concluded that the interlocking concrete pavement showed little evidence of distress, with pavement condition indexes (PCI) for tested sections averaging 70 on a scale of 0 to 100 (with 100 showing no distress).

At 20 years, North Bay Public Works confirmed that the pavement was expected to be serviceable for another 15 to 20 years with only minimal maintenance anticipated.

A Cost-Effective Option

As part of the 1999 survey, a 40-year model was used for a life cycle cost analysis comparing the pavers and an asphalt street model that concluded rehabilitation of the pavers would be required at Year 21 in order to maintain a pavement PCI of 60. For the asphalt pavement, rehabilitation would correspond to years 18, 27 and 36 to maintain a PCI of 60.

At a 4 percent discount rate (corresponding to a secure investment of 6 percent and inflation of 2 percent), interlocking concrete pavements were shown to be more cost-effective than asphalt pavements. The study did not reflect costs to the public in downtime from routine maintenance and repairs. Interlocking concrete pavers can have a significant benefit in terms of reduction of these user delay costs because traffic can be restored very quickly after repair; also, less maintenance downtime is required over the pavement’s lifespan.

Since 1983, North Bay has continued using interlocking concrete pavers in public sidewalks, boulevards, its train station and lengthy promenades along its award-winning Lake Nipissing Waterfront Park. In 2010, it added a one-block section of pavers in a roadway that complements nearby Main Street and sets off a roadway island park. Likewise, cities across the United States and Canada have since chosen pavers for a variety of low- and high-impact projects, taking advantage of their endurance, aesthetic qualities and green attributes, more recently including permeable installations that aid in stormwater management.

The details of North Bay’s Main Street pavement rehabilitation are still to be determined as the city works on a new land use and urban design plan, says Mr. Lacombe. A rough estimate for replacing the pavement, including design and construction, is currently $2.4 million, he says.

North Bay faces the same decisions as hundreds of cities across North America: how to replace an aging downtown roadway in a way that’s economical in the short and long term, while taking into account aesthetic and environmental considerations, and the needs of stakeholders. The Main Street project offers strong evidence that interlocking concrete pavers are suitable for high-impact applications, and can be the most cost-effective pavement solution when considering total cost of ownership over the long term.

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HNA Draws Record Numbers to Louisville

The 9th Annual Hardscape North America trade show, Oct. 21–23, 2015, drew record numbers of contractors and dealers in Louisville, KY. With over 9,300 landscape and hardscape contractors in attendance for HNA and GIE+EXPO, attendees and exhibitors enjoyed a successful event. ICPI, the association for the segmental concrete pavement industry and producer of HNA, saw a 4 percent increase in attendance this year over last.

Installer Championship

The HNA Installer Championship had 12 teams battle at the outdoor pavilion at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Each team was challenged to demonstrate its creativity, skill and efficiency in paver and segmental retaining wall installation. On Friday afternoon, four finalist teams competed against each other with 90 minutes on the clock.

The finalists were:

  1. Team Skyline Landscaping of Oak Leaf Landscaping
  2. Team Two Brothers of L&S Hardscapes, LLC
  3. Team Two Friends of A+ Landscaping
  4. Team D&B of Cooper Pavers, Inc.

In the end, Team D&B earned the title of HNA 2015 Installer Champion.

Click on the image above to see more photos from the HNA 2015 Installer Championship.

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The Joy of Disruptive Things

Disruptive technology: One that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry, or a groundbreaking product that creates a completely new industry. Examples: cellphones, personal computers and flat screens. From www.whatis.com.

Disruptive innovation: One that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. Examples: Uber, Wal-Mart and iTunes. From www.innosight.com.

Does the concrete paver industry have a disruptive technology? Maybe so, and it might be carbon curing. In very simple terms, carbon curing is using carbon dioxide to cure concrete instead of air. CO2 is captured into the concrete, holding some generated by cement production. This sounds good given the rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the broader implications for global warming, climate change, rising sea levels, etc. Fortunately, the segmental concrete pavement industry takes a smidgeon of comfort in knowing that 95 percent of CO2 emissions comes from burning fossil fuels to heat/cool buildings and from operating ships, trains, planes and automobiles.

A requirement fixed in concrete manufacturing is curing time. While concrete never stops curing, 28 days was established decades ago for curing time prior to testing for strength, absorption/density, and freeze-thaw deicer resistance. Concrete pavers often take less than 28 days to achieve the minimum 8,000 psi (55 MPa) unit compressive strength required in ASTM C936 or the minimum 7,200 psi (50 MPa) cube compressive strength in CSA A231.2. Nonetheless, significant sums of venture capital are being invested into carbon curing of concrete pavers because it presents a disruptive 24 hours for curing instead of 672.

What does a 24-hour cure time mean regarding substantive efficiency increases? Most of our readers haven’t experienced a concrete paver plant. It consists of millions of dollars of equipment and computers that mix concrete and quickly form it into a layer of 30 to 40 pavers within a steel mold. Paver production machines can’t go much faster to reduce cycle times for vibration and compaction of wet concrete within the mold. Perhaps this could be reduced to just a few seconds if the vibration of the concrete mix happens before it enters the production mold. Another option is placing more production machines in a plant (next to another or in line) such that daily throughput is quadrupled or taken higher. This implies a corresponding expansion of curing areas within a plant, meaning larger plants.

But let’s assume that the part of the plant that makes concrete units increases output that corresponds to the curing rate output now at one day instead of 7 to 28 days. That suggests factories won’t need much time or space next to them in “the yard” to store pavers. While a larger indoor space might be needed for higher production output, plants can make and ship paving units pretty much on order, even very large orders. Inventory management becomes just in time. The need for the yard next to the plant decreases, making inventory less important, and financing costs to create it diminish.

An innovative rearrangement of old commodities like cement and CO2 present a disruptive framework. The disruption from carbon curing extends to rearranging the plant and reprogramming computers that control mixing, batching and cycle times so equipment paces with faster curing and packaging times, and on multiple machines. This seems like the difference between using radar for airport air traffic control (linear sequencing) and more efficient GPS. The latter requires operational simultaneity in a four-dimensional space with new rules for aircraft spacing on approach, landing, take-off and hand-off.

The coming disruption within the paver industry could be CO2 curing with shorter curing times. This means rethinking the configuration of existing manufacturing equipment: its extent, layout and software programming. The joy of disruption doesn’t only come from the environmental benefits of CO2 curing. It potentially comes from disruptive pricing. All of this eventually could mean that segmental concrete pavement might have a future with a lower initial cost than asphalt. That disruption is pure joy.

For more information on companies that help reduce carbon emissions from concrete products, watch the following videos: