As a manufacturer and global supplier of compaction, milling and paving equipment, Dynapac has accumulated decades of know-how through research and full-scale testing of its products and applications, in-house and on the field. The company wants to enhance its services by providing end users access to its knowledge and training resources to help them achieve optimal compaction and paving results. To drive this initiative, Dynapac is developing its technology and application centre (TAC) located in Karlskrona, Sweden into an incubation centre for new technologies and applications that can also support the company’s product development, sales staff and customers.
According to Fredrik Åkesson, manager, TAC, one of the main objectives of the TAC is to raise the level of application knowledge across every construction sector, particularly infrastructure construction.
“The key to a durable foundation for any type of construction project, whether it’s a road, airfield or building, is efficient compaction. Our inspiration comes from the work of the late Dr. Lars Forssblad who worked for Dynapac for many years. He was a leading expert on soil compaction and wrote a number of books and papers on the subject. The compaction, milling and paving processes are sciences by themselves. If customers have access to all the know-how about these solutions, they could use it to build strong, sustainable road networks and minimize traffic disruptions due to repair and maintenance work,” says Åkesson.
“There is huge potential for direct and indirect savings in time and money for everyone, including the general public. We want to communicate this message and influence decision makers, planners, and specification writers in these industries, as well as local governments, and road administration and homologation organizations. We believe this approach will steadily enhance our brand image and help us become the first choice for major infrastructure and other construction projects worldwide,” he adds.
The test facilities at the TAC include indoor and outdoor test areas and a laboratory. The indoor test area can accommodate single drum rollers of all sizes, enabling full-scale testing to be performed under controlled conditions with no interference from the weather. This ensures reliable results regardless of the time of year and allows accurate machine compaction performance comparisons to be made. Outdoor testing is performed from May to September to reduce the influence of the weather and thus ensure reliable results.
A dedicated test engineer ensures repeatability and reliability in handling the test equipment and reports the data to the research engineer for analysis. Test results are passed on to the product design and development department to ensure that new products provide the highest possible compaction, milling and paving performance. The TAC also has a fully equipped materials laboratory conducting ongoing research into materials and their behavior during compaction, milling and paving.
Day-to-day activities primarily consist of end-user support and training. The TAC is also equipped to provide training on construction materials as well as on machine and material interaction and other issues relating to compaction, milling and paving. It also offers training tools to complement Dynapac’s compaction and paving manual.
“Our strategy is to achieve a balanced mix of short-term daily activities and longer term research and investigation that will lay the foundation for future products and applications. Initially, the TAC will put a lot of effort into training people in Atlas Copco customer centers around the world in machine selection and methods,” says Åkesson.
In the longer term, the TAC resources will be used to develop quality measurement, documentation systems and methods. This will be supported by continuous applied research and testing, collecting information from the construction industry and other related sources, exploring relevant future technology in collaboration with academic institutions, and idea harvesting.
Dynapac aims to provide technical support for helping customers with machine selection and methods for upcoming projects, as well as assisting with problem-solving in ongoing projects. The TAC will be able provide assistance in clarifying job specifications or provide input for new specifications based on its extensive compaction and paving database compiled over many years of testing activities. For high level projects and major customers, the TAC’s application expertise, resources and experience are available in the form of direct consultation and support. Furthermore, input from sales and service staff will enable the TAC to monitor trends and developments around the world.
“Our entire focus is on the interaction between machine and material, i.e., the application of the equipment. Different jobs require different machines and settings. Depending on the type of job and the quality requirements, different ways of operation may also be required. It is essential to take all of these parameters into account in order to make sure the right machine is used for the job and that it is utilized in the most efficient way. Only then will the machine meet, or hopefully exceed, the end-user’s expectations,” says Åkesson.
As an example of how TAC’s know-how can help customers, Åkesson points out that if a customer simply wants to order a 10-ton roller for a project, there is a risk that he or she will be disappointed in the performance.
“If the customer agrees, we carefully review the material to be compacted, the compaction strategy and the ground conditions in advance in order to help them select the correct machine for the job and get a top quality result. A better result and a lower cost per compacted cubic meter might, for instance, can be achieved with an 8-ton machine. While not benefiting us financially in the short term, giving this advice will encourage the customer to trust us and return with other projects and needs in the future,” he says.
In many cases it is possible to improve the performance of an existing compaction solution. This provides savings in project time as well as cost for compaction. Changing conditions on the jobsite, such as natural variations in the material composition, or the need to change layer thickness, can in most cases be handled by changing the machine settings or other operational parameters.
“When it comes to paving, our recommendations can result in significant improvements to the customer’s paving process. The process needs to be continuous and every link in the chain must interface correctly with the next to achieve the desired result. The number of tons of asphalt mix you can deliver to the paver decides your paving speed in relation to your layer thickness and paving width. In turn, the paving speed and the cooling time of your asphalt mix must be matched with sufficient compaction capacity, i.e., using the correct rollers in sufficient numbers,” says Åkesson.
The development of new Dynapac equipment is not the province of the TAC. However, the results of the TAC’s application research and machine performance testing activities will be accessible to the product design and development department, and viable research projects will be transferred to the design and development team as input for new products.
Åkesson points out that research and testing at Dynapac have contributed significantly to the development of advanced process control and documentation systems and helped end-users of Dynapac compaction machines achieve high productivity.
“This is achieved by guiding them through the entire compaction operation in three clear steps. They can plan the task with Dynapac CompBase and PaveComp software, perform the work using the compaction meter and analyzer on the roller, and analyze the results afterwards using the Dynapac compaction analyzer (DCA),” says Åkesson.