Behind Australia’s latest heavy-duty high compaction screed

Roads and Infrastructure catches up with Alister Clarke from Fulton Hogan to find out more about its acquisition of two new pieces of equipment that are designed to make its job easier.

In 2018, the total length of roads in Australia was 877,651 kilometres – a number that is growing on a weekly basis. It is a big budget expense, so much so that the Coalition has pledged $100 billion in the Australian 2019-20 Budget to infrastructure for roads and rail over the next 10 years.

Fulton Hogan has made a huge contribution in paving these roads for the past 85 years. The need for efficient and long-lasting products is crucial to everything they do, which is why their investments in road machinery are so critical for their business.

Alister Clarke, Surfacing Manager SEQ at Fulton Hogan, says that one of its newest machines – the Roadtec RP195ex asphalt paver fitted with the latest Carlson EZR2 basic 3m hydraulically extendable rear-mount screed from Astec Australia – ensures high compaction, longer life and a wider paving width.

“The screed is new to the Australian and US market,” he said. “Instead of paving at a smaller width, the new machines allows users to go out a lot wider than a standard paver. For example, a standard paver will take you out to about six metres. This has the ability to go out to about nine.”

Mr. Clarke says that the new screed is a time-saver, too. It reduces the number of paving hours and allows workers to put more product on the ground in a shift.

“It’s a heavy, high-compaction screed with many unique features. For example, the screed plates on the extensions are the same width as the main screed,” he says.

The Carlson EZR2 was rolled out to the US market in early 2017 and the Australian market followed quickly later that year.

“We’ve got a long history with the [supplier] Astec,” he says. “For instance, the paver is the second one of this particular model we’ve purchased, and it was purchased specifically for project work.

“Astec Australia has been supplying us now for many years and it’s all been based on their service and the reliability and the quality of their machinery. A great percentage of our paving fleet is their product because of its reliability and its proven worth,” he says.

Another member of Fulton Hogan’s fleet is an older three-metre-wide Roadtec RP195ex road paver, which operates on a compact Roadtec track system. Incorporating an oscillating bogie design that provides even pressure along the tracks ensures excellent flotation and traction.

Mr. Clarke said that they first purchased this particular model paver for a project in 2009, which has processed many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of asphalt since then and is still performing like a new machine.

“It’s been an exceptional paver for us. There has been no downtime because of its inbuilt durability, leading ‘Best-In-Class’ design features and, most importantly, it has performed really well in the field laying a consistent quality asphalt mat day in day out. Our asphalting crews love to operate the machine.

Being a track machine, it has a large footprint on the ground surface, so there was no wheelspin, which can occur with rubber-tyred pavers on occasions. That was the basis of why we purchased another one – it’s tried and proven in the field,” he says.

The Roadtec RP195ex features ergonomically positioned switch placement on the armrest, which means it can be operated without looking down, even during long shifts.

It also features two operator stations with hydraulic swing out seats by the push of a button to give the operator much better sight of vision at the front, side and rear of the paver.

The unit also features flow gates, which are hydraulically adjustable in order to maintain the right level and flow of material from the hopper to the screed. This ensures a more constant flow of material and better results at the back of the paver where it really matters. Roadtec is one of the only companies that currently offers adjustable flow gates as standard, in order to help the contractors get better results.

“It’s modernised, it’s new and it is forever reliable,” says Mr. Clarke. “If you’ve got fatigued equipment, it always causes a lot of grief in the field when we go out on a project that’s under traffic. If you have any interruptions with any type of equipment that’s not performing, it just causes duress and stress throughout the working teams.”

In Australia, the main cause of injury within the industry is body stressing. This amounts to about 37 per cent of the injuries sustained in the sector. Modern ergonomic equipment, such as that offered by Astec Australia, can help to reduce the strain.

“The machinery is robust and easy to operate. Some benefits that come to mind are its reliability factor and the back-up service given by Astec Australia’s professional team of experts,” says
Mr. Clarke.

He said that it is valuable to invest not only in employees, but also in machinery, and that feedback from workers is important.

“The feedback on our newest paver and screed acquisition from operators has been all positive. There has been nothing negative at all. The delivery service support and training from Astec Australia has been first class and therefore, I know that the after sales support would be there if there ever were any  issues,” he said.

Fulton Hogan has big plans for the new Roadtec RP195ex fitted with the Carlson EZR2 high-compaction screed, including a big project underway on the Gateway Arterial in South East Queensland.

“We’ll take it up to the new second parallel runway in Brisbane straight afterwards. This will take us right through to the end of the calendar year,” says Mr. Clarke.

It is for this reason that high-end equipment like the Roadtec RP195ex Paver and Carlson EZR2 Screed are needed, as they can get through large amounts of work quickly and reliably.

Astec Industries has a wealth of industry knowledge and a continuous devotion to meeting the needs of its customers. As an Astec Industries company, Astec Australia has been supplying the Australian roads and asphalt industry with high-quality brands, such as and including Roadtec, Astec asphalt plants, CEI, Heatec and Carlson screeds, for the past 47 years.

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