Not cracking under pressure

Keeping Australia’s roads in good condition is no easy task, but Road Maintenance has been fixing and innovating since the 1970s.Keeping Australia’s roads in good condition is no easy task, but Road Maintenance has been fixing and innovating since the 1970s.

Roads in Australia are built to withstand harsh weather and high volumes of traffic, but even the toughest can crack under the pressure.

Cracks in a road’s surface can lead to further damage and, without timely action, can turn a simple job into an expensive and disruptive repair project.

To keep costs down for councils and companies, Road Maintenance has been sealing cracks and fixing roads with a unique pavement application for more than 40 years.

Max Fitzgerald, Owner of Road Maintenance, says the company has spent a lot of time perfecting its processes and remains proudly Australian owned.

“Back in the 1970s, there weren’t that many people focusing on crack sealing. I could see what was required after being in the industry myself for a long time at that stage. We were able to avoid a lot of the shortfalls that were affecting the industry then,” Mr. Fitzgerald says.

“We make sure to manufacture everything we do ourselves, from start to finish. We take pride in the fact we don’t import anything and have kept jobs in Australia.”

To continue pushing forward technologically, Road Maintenance designed Maxi-Seal, a polymer rubberised bitumen designed for crack sealing.

“By sealing cracks in the road as they appear, it stops water from getting in and wreaking havoc. Without proper maintenance, cracks can turn into a total failed area. Councils have been able to cut down on maintenance fees because of our permanent and cost-effective solution,” he says.

Maxi-Seal has been designed for high amounts of flexibility, with the ability to withstand changing climate conditions. With its Victoria-based manufacturing plant, Road Maintenance can produce Maxi-Seal and supply products and services across Australia.

Road Maintenance uses its National Association of Testing Authority (NATA) certified laboratory to make sure each batch of Maxi-Seal is up to standard before being sent out.

Each Road Maintenance vehicle is Worksafe-approved and equipped with an oil heated tank to make sure the product can maintain the optimum temperature. Mr. Fitzgerald says the design allows heat to permeate fully throughout the Maxi-Seal, where gas heated tanks hasten degradation by creating excessive heat around the core.

“The oil heating gives us a smoother flow and a longer life on the product. Because of the technology, it also lets us work during Total Fire Ban days. We can use digital heating controls from the cab as a truck drives to a job, so the Maxi-Seal is ready by the time it arrives at the site,” Mr. Fitzgerald says.

Heated Maxi-Seal is applied to cracks and crevices, where it can flow freely and create a water tight bond. Mr. Fitzgerald says that traffic will be able to drive over it within minutes.

“We’re able to place up to 8000 lineal metres in a day of material. Because of its quiet application we can even do it at night in built up areas. We’ve developed it specifically to seep into the cracks and stay flat on the road, which makes it a long-term solution.”

Rubber binder for asphalt

“One big issue that other countries have faced is reducing the odour of rubber bitumen,” Mr. Fitzgerald says. “We’re proud to say we’ve been able to develop a method that kills the odour from the asphalt and prevents moisture from penetrating the surface, helping put Australia first when it comes to innovation.

“We’ve also managed to develop our technology to stick to just about any stone that can be found in Australia, even quartz and granite.”

Mr. Fitzgerald believes strongly in innovation and says he knows Australia has the capacity to become a world leader in this space.

“Growth is important in this industry, because if you’re not always pushing forward, then you’ll be left behind. A lot of people look to the US or Europe for this technology, but we can develop it here, better, neater and cleaner,” he says.

Staying environmentally conscious is a major part of this push to innovate. Mr. Fitzgerald says there’s a huge market out there to take advantage of waste tyres and utilise resources from waste streams.

“Our product uses scrap tyres for its rubberised bitumen, which helps us not be reliant on any bitumen imports,” he says.

Mr. Fitzgerald says test results have shown scrap rubber binder for asphalt improves life of pavement by more than 50 per cent, providing better braking, less noise, helping prevent cracking and potholing, is more resistant to rotting and can use more types of stones.

“Our binder meets VicRoads binder content, five per cent, as laid in Casey Council,” Mr. Fitzgerald says.

“We’re looking to innovate further and take advantage of recycled plastics from waste bottles. We can see what needs to be done for the country as a whole and are making sure we harness recycled products to help Australia’s environment.

“We have found some hybrid formats that use a polymer from plastic bottles that may be able to make a better product. We’re currently experimenting to see just how we can utilise it effectively on Australia’s roads.”

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