What does it mean to be a pioneer in your industry? The employee-owners of Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS) know the feeling very well. We caught up with the crew who are currently operating one of only a few asphalt pavers in the country equipped to run stringless to hear more about this technology and its innovation within the industry.
“I think it’s a great time for ESS to get involved with it. I think it will set us apart from a vast majority of our competitors to give us that edge,” says Quentin Fleshman, Stringless Technician for ESS.
Traditional stringline paving methods involve the use of contact or sonic style sensors which reference the stringline and control the equipment laying asphalt. These tools require more space, manpower, time, and money while producing a less accurate product. Stringless paving eliminates these obstacles by using instruments that rely on coordinate-based 3D (CAD) models to control the machinery.
“The combination of using extremely accurate positioning equipment that allows us to follow 3D (CAD) models that contain true horizontal and vertical curves is really what sets the technology apart from any conventional method,” says Bob Parker, General Manager for Laser Specialists, Inc.
Stringless technology operates from fixed points which control the elevation of the asphalt through electronic modes during steering and grading, ultimately decreasing the risk of human error. Previously, technicians relied on handheld tools like alignment stakes to monitor the thickness of the asphalt. Using a stabbing technique, the crew would then adjust the asphalt paver manually to achieve their preferred depth. Fleshman shared that when the crew formerly used a tape measure, their accuracy was compromised. The stringless technology now allows them to take their measurements within the thousandths.
“Any time you rely on a stringline, you’re never going to pave a project exactly to the engineers’ design model. This is simply because when you string, you create a series of straight line segments that therefore eliminate the true horizontal and vertical curves,” says Parker.
Although stringless technology is new to the U.S. asphalt industry, ESS has been utilizing this technology for years on equipment like trimmers, curb machines, and concrete pavers. Fleshman shared that the crew’s initial introduction to stringless pavers presented a learning curve. Once dialed into perfection, according to the crew, it’s going to be a great asset for the company. This technology doesn’t just provide efficiencies in the field, it brings them to the bidding table as well. With less manpower and a faster paving operation, the project schedule can be shortened and the budget optimized during pursuits.
“What impresses me most about this technology is the ability to consolidate all of our operations into one basket,” says Gordon Sires, Lead Data Prep Technician for ESS. “This stringless technology has positively impacted our ability to hit our deadlines and deliver quality projects.”
The stringless process is completed in-house from start to finish. Our internal data prep department is responsible for the creation of the 3D (CAD) models that are then used to operate the asphalt paver alongside technicians on-site. With this technology, the opportunities are endless. ESS is proud to continue our legacy as pioneers in stringless paving.
“Emery Sapp and Sons is a leader in the paving construction industry. They’re always forward thinking and adopting new technologies into their workflow that will help them construct better roads,” says Parker. “This is just one example of that dedication.”