With approximately 150,000 kilometres of roads open to general traffic in Victoria, the task of maintaining such an expansive network – even if it’s just the spray sealing – can be a major task.
To improve the delivery of those road operations and maintenance tasks, VicRoads has taken great steps to improve the standards of safety within the state.
Identifying the safety benefits of using forward-moving aggregate spreading equipment in spray sealing operations, VicRoads, in 2016, announced its intention to mandate the safer sealing technology.
The road agency has implemented a five-year transition period – 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2022 – to phase in the new spreader technology, which will be required on all VicRoads works by 2022. To help push the adoption of forward-moving chip spreaders, VicRoads even provided incentive payments to reward early adopters.
With a target set, industry has been taking up the challenge and making progress in facilitating the rollout of forward-moving aggregate spreaders.
This February, Boral unveiled its new road surfacing truck – Australia’s first forward-moving aggregate spreader. It’s a key development in the move towards safer spray sealing operations in Victoria.
The new Boral Forward Moving Aggregate Spreader (FMAS) improves safety and maximises visibility by dispersing aggregate from the front of the truck via a conveyor belt and spreader box.
Until now, the process involved road crews working with reversing trucks that applied aggregate through an elevated tipper body.
Aside from the safety benefits for workers, the company says the new Boral FMAS can help complete works quicker and reduce any potential infrastructure and overhead damage, such as contact withpower lines, trees and bridges.
The new machine was officially unveiled at an event held at the Australian Road Research Board’s (ARRB) National Transport Research Centre in Port Melbourne.
ARRB CEO Michael Caltabiano, Chief Engineer of Victoria Dr Collette Burke, VicRoads Principal Engineer – Sprayed Seal Technology John Esnouf and IVECO Australia Managing Director Bruce Healy were among the delegates to attend the launch.
Boral’s National Asset Manager – Asphalt, Stuart Partridge, says the firm designed and developed the machine following a call to industry by VicRoads as a result of a serious accident involving a VicRoads worker a number of years ago.
“Surfacing roads has remained one of the most potentially challenging tasks faced by construction crews because of the nature of the material being used and the way that material is applied,” he says.
“Rollover accidents, blind spots and high reversing tippers that can be at risk of interfering with power lines or overhanging trees are just some of the problems associated with the current range of spreaders.”
Commercial vehicle manufacturer IVECO Australia advised Boral on the best IVECO platform on which to build the vehicle – the Stralis AD 8×4. Through its engineering centre in Melbourne, the IVECO team offered support through the FMAS development and build process.
IVECO Australia Managing Director Bruce Healy said the company was extremely excited at being involved in the development of the company’s newest innovation.
“Boral has shown innovation and forethought in researching and ultimately developing this vehicle in line with the new industry safety standards in Australia,” Mr. Healy says.
“IVECO has a long and proud history as one of Australia’s preferred suppliers of concrete agitators and the like for this industry, so naturally we were very pleased to participate in this project,” he adds, expressing his confidence that the new FMAS model will be well received by the market.
Mr. Partridge was optimistic at what the innovation could bring to the local sector going forward.
“This invention allows locally manufactured and approved trucks to be substantially modified while still meeting regulatory standards, which is why VicRoads has mandated that forward-moving aggregate spreaders should be in use on all its projects by 2022 – a move we hope will be followed by other state road authorities nationally.