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MnROAD | NRRA | Structure & Teams | ICT Team

Asphalt Real Time Smoothness (ARTS) for Asphalt Paving

MnDOT Contract #: 1045185
Status: Complete


The Real-Time Smoothness (RTS) technologies are height sensors mounted on the back of a paver to measure the profile elevations on the pavement surfaces during the paving operation. The FHWA SHRP 2 “Real-Time Smoothness Measurements On Portland Cement Concrete Pavements During Construction (R06E)” was to enable real-time control of concrete pavement smoothness during construction by providing proven technologies for measuring smoothness in real-time, and model specifications and guidelines for transportation agencies (SHRP2 2020). This study includes a ten-year field demonstration, webinars, on-call support, guideline development on the RTS technologies for concrete paving between 2009 and 2019. Of seven devices studied, two were selected for further evaluation and demonstration: the GOMACO Smoothness Indicator and the Ames Engineering Real-Time Profiler. The devices were evaluated during concrete paving projects in Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, and New York. The final report from this project indicates that RTS allows early diagnosis of paving equipment settings and operation that would impact smoothness on the finished harden concrete (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2013). Therefore, changes can be made to the paving operation (e.g., evening the spreader of fresh concrete) to improve smoothness.

The objective of the proposed study is to extend the current RTS technologies to applications on asphalt paving, asphalt RTS or ARTS. The anticipated benefits from ARTS are to isolate the causes of roughness from the paver operation from those from the compaction. This would allow adjustment to be made to the paver settings (such as tow point and feed system settings, equipment maintenance, cleaning, etc.) to improve smoothness.

Project Tasks

Task 1: Kick-off meeting

A kickoff meeting will be conducted with the NRRA and all research partners within two weeks of Notice-to-Proceed (NTP). The meeting will focus on the work plan and discuss potential modifications.

Task 2: ARTS sensors for asphalt paving

The RTS will be re-designed with accessories (e.g., cooling devices) and to be adjusted the mounting height (e.g., 12” to 15” above the asphalt surface) to operate within the allowable temperature ranges of the sensors (e.g., air temperature below 130°F) and to withstand airborne particulate, smoke, dust, and excess vibration. It is estimated 20% of pavers operating with screed vibration in north America. Therefore, it is proposed to develop an RTS without considering screed vibration initially, then to consider/include screed vibration effects.

  • Deliverables: Prototype of the first ARTS

Task 3: Field testing and validation

The ARTS produced will be tested at selected asphalt paving projects along with post-paving profile measurements with a highspeed inertial profiler (HSIP). The data collected from the paver operation setting recordings, ARTS and HSIP will be evaluated to isolate the effects on roughness by the paver operation and roller compaction.

  • Deliverables:
    • First prototype of ARTS will be tested at the first pilot field project.
    • Second prototype of ARTS will be tested at the second validation field project.

Task 4: Report/Guidelines/Tech Brief/Outreach

The development of ARTS, field testing, and the findings from the analysis of field data will be compiled into a comprehensive report that includes guidelines for using ARTS for asphalt paving to improve smoothness. Also, a Tech Brief will be produced based on the final report to provide an easy-to-read format. As an outreach program, the research team will coordinate with NRRA to deliver a Research Pays Off webinar to convey the research findings to the public.

  • Deliverables:
    • Draft final report will be submitted to TAP for reviews and comments.
    • Final report (PDF)
    • Tech Brief will be submitted
    • Research Pays Off webinar presentation, scheduled for April 18, 2023

Project team

Email the Project Team
Principal Investigator:
George Chang, Ph.D., The Transtec Group, gkchang@thetranstecgroup.com
Technical Liaison: John Siekmeier, MnDOT, john.siekmeier@state.mn.us
Project Technical Advisory Panel (TAP):

  • Chelsea Bennet, MnDOT
  • Ruairi Charlesworth, Highway Data Systems (UK)
  • Rebecca Embacher, MnDOT
  • John Garrity, MnDOT
  • Greg Johnson, MnDOT
  • Evan Monroe, Topcon Positioning Systems
  • Laikram Narsingh, Wirtgen America/Vogele
  • Jim Preston, Topcon Positioning Systems
  • Nicholas Schaefer, Surface Systems and Instruments
  • David Shelstad, MOBA
  • John Siekmeier, MnDOT (TL)

Research Team Members

  • Ervin Dukatz, Ph.D., P.E., President, Flyereld Consulting, LLC
  • Amanda Gilliland, P.E., Project Manager, Transtec Group
  • Mark Leichty, Engineering Manager, Ames Engineering
  • Todd Mansell, Product Application Specialist, Caterpillar
  • Dave Merritt. P.E., Director, Transtec Group
  • Matthew S. Oman, P.E., Vice President, Pavement and Engineering Technology, Mathy Construction Company