Thermal Road Repairs is excited to announce that it has joined forces with award-winning tech start-up Asphalt-IQ. The system sees a digital smart tag embedded into the road surface, with the carbon footprint of that works immediately readable by smartphone, stored on a database and accessible anywhere through a web browser.
Thermal Road Repairs and Asphalt-IQ are developing a bespoke version of the tool that will calculate the carbon savings that Thermal Road Repairs’ system delivers when compared to standard repair techniques. An initial pilot project in Wythenshawe demonstrated savings of 85% carbon.
“With net zero carbon dates looming, it is important for our clients to know exactly how much carbon is being created at point of delivery and therefore we can calculate the saving created by using our technology as the repair solution,” says Thermal Road Repairs director Aidan Conway. “As well as providing immediate information, Asphalt-IQ ensures that the calculations are rigorous and auditable.”
Asphalt-IQ is the brainchild of Gary Cook, an asphalt expert and consultant who has worked on road projects and programmes around the world. It was while working for a major road owner in the Middle East that he came up with the idea of attaching information to tags geolocated in the relevant stretch of road.
“Contractors were submitting huge amounts of data, both electronically and in paper form and I realised there was a missing piece in the jigsaw: a way for people to find the information they needed in five or ten years’ time,” says Cook. Although BIM and digital twins can make date recovery possible for major highway projects, they aren’t viable for small works and repairs.
Cook knew of plastic tags used in Boston and New York in the US. Colour-coded, the tags are embedded into asphalt repairs, with the colours indicating which utility company had carried out the work. Asphalt-IQ’s technology, which has a global patent pending, is a smart version of the tags, the ‘Smart A-Tag’.
The system can be set up to store quality control data such as specifications, certifications and test reports through its RoadVault-IQ database and smartphone app. Or it can calculate and store carbon footprint data through its Offset-IQ app, which is where Thermal Road Repairs’ interest comes in.
“I realised that the UK’s biggest problem is understanding the carbon footprint of the road,” says Cook. “There are over 40 different spread sheets being used to calculate the carbon or asphalt production and road works, and they are all slightly different.”
The Smart-A-Tags are installed into the road surface by pressing them into the asphalt just before compaction so that they are eventually set into the surface by around 5mm. At the end of a shift, the engineer or foreman swipes the tag with a smartphone which activates it. The user will then be asked a few questions and the Offset-IQ app then calculates the embodied carbon up to that point. Because the tags are geolocated, the app will be able to calculate parameters such as the distance of the works from an asphalt plant.
“It has been designed to be simple and quick to use,” says Cook. “Our brief to the software developer was that it had to be as easy as using a cashpoint machine.”
Launched at the Local Council Roads Innovation Group’s (LCRIG’s) Innovation Festival in July this year, Asphalt-IQ’s ingenuity has already been recognised and rewarded. It won the Green Estate award at the festival, judged over two days by local authority delegates to the festival.
Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.
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