The Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) has for more than 20 years sought to bridge the gap between research and practice, actively exposing its members, road agency staff, and consultants to new and innovative technologies throughout the rest of the world through its biannual study tour program. In 2014, AAPA travelled to the U.S. with two groups—pavement designers and contractors—to learn about new and innovative tools and techniques that will benefit Australia.

The 2014 tour included a day at Astec, Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since the last visit to Astec in 2010, the Australian International Knowledge Transfer tour group has grown to more than 20, including more than 40 percent contractors. The one-day stop at Astec provided an opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry: Charlie Potts, David Madden, Malcolm Swanson, Mike Varner, and Dr. J. Don Brock. The years of wisdom and insight of these key industry players were shared with the group, covering important experiences relevant to Australia. The event included presentations by Ben Brock and Eric Baker, plus tours of the Astec and Roadtec manufacturing facilities.

Knowledge is the key to success and sharing information is essential for partnerships to thrive.

The Key Messages

Ben Brock, president and CEO of Astec Industries, Inc., spoke about core values and being personable and available to the customer. This means being committed to meeting the customers’ needs. Astec’s company model is decentralized, innovative, and service-oriented. As an industry leader, Astec’s market includes more than 150 countries and is in all 50 U.S. states, with more than 220 products.

Dr. J. Don Brock, founder and chairman of the board of Astec Industries, Inc., presented on how to use more recycle and thrive in a down market. Malcolm Swanson, P.E., president of Astec, Inc., and Mike Varner, chief engineer at Astec, Inc., shared experiences they learned through the years.

Charles Potts, chairman of the board with Heritage Construction and Materials, highlighted the concept of innovation being a joint effort and how partnership with clients is essential. He mentioned the asphalt testing at NCAT (National Center for Asphalt Technology) located at Auburn University in Alabama as an example of pushing the envelope together. He spoke of having local area knowledge about your materials as invaluable. He also stated that tests that never fail are not achieving anything, so avoid testing for the sake of testing.

David Madden, director of Madden Contracting Company, Inc. and director of Longview Asphalt, Inc., spoke about applying the specification to the letter to ensure good contractors. He noted that contractors provide the best value for the money when they are allowed to innovate. He explained the value of Astec plants and equipment, how infrared heat sensors give guidance for compaction, and the importance of longitudinal joint compaction for long pavement life.

Eric Baker, director of marketing and sales support with Roadtec, Inc., talked about the challenges when paving with high recycle and presented solutions, which included improved equipment, such as the material transfer vehicle, spray paver, and heated side load end gates.

Charlie Potts and the Australian visitors, "Innovation is a shared activity with your client."
David Madden and the Australian visitors, "Getting the best out of hot-mix asphalt joint compaction."
Jeff Richmond sharing the advantages of Roadtec equipment with the Australian tour group.