New paving technologies
Huge amount of highway construction planned in the coming years is an opportunity for road equipment such as pavers in future.

Paver market in India is picking up with the growing road construction projects. Both asphalt and concrete paver markets see positive growth in the coming years. According to an Off-Highway Research report, the sales of asphalt finishers is expected to grow by 18 per cent to 1,050 units in 2022, from 893 in 2017. With many highways and rural roads are using concrete, the use of concrete pavers is also picking up. Overall there is a good demand for pavers in roads and highways construction.

Mechanical vs sensor pavers
Mechanical pavers are the most economical and efficient solution while sensor pavers are advanced pavers with intelligent monitoring systems. Mechanical pavers, though economical, cannot provide a smooth finish to the surface. In turn, this affects the traffic flow of the highway and increases maintenance requirements in the finished road. Sensor pavers have intelligent operating technology that helps control the machine in terms of mat thickness as well as the level of the mat and the grade required in the finished road.

The paving quality of any road is defined by the ability of the paver to satisfy the three requirements of mat thickness, the level of the mat, and the grade required in line with the highway design. Regular pavers without sensors simply follow the undulations of the road base and are therefore unable to give a smooth finish to a paved surface. In turn, this affects the traffic flow of the highway and increases maintenance requirements in the finished road. Sensor pavers have intelligent operating technology that help control the machine in terms of mat thickness as well as the level of the mat and the grade required in the finished road. In the coming years, more and more contractors are expected to switch to sensor pavers from using mechanical pavers.

Market scenario
According to Ramesh Palagiri, Managing Director and CEO, Wirtgen India in the last 3-4 years, there has been a huge surge in the road construction sector, both on national highways and state highways, and this has driven demand for all our products. "Under the Bharatmala program, the Wirtgen Group has several opportunities for delivering products for flexible and rigid pavements for both bituminous as well as concrete roads," he claims.

Demand trends
According to Palagiri, the total market for sensor pavers is around 300 units per annum. The demand for the 9 m and above class is around 100 units and the rest is for the 5 m class for sensor pavers. But the market for mechanical pavers is bigger at around 500 units. We expect in the coming years more contractors to shift to sensor pavers from mechanical pavers."

New products and technologies Paver technologies have evolved with the major players bringing in advanced features and technologies in their product range. For example, Wirtgen Group has introduced the latest features in its slipform paver range. For concrete paving, the Wirtgen slipform pavers can now offer dual-layer concrete paving, where a single machine is used for dual layer concrete paving: the bottom layer and the top layer concrete are paved in a synchronised operation. It is additionally ensured that both the top and bottom layers are paved "wet-in-wet" regardless of weather or site conditions. This can be done with single paver or with two pavers where it is necessary to distribute the operating weight to two separate machines.

In asphalt paving, the Vögele in-line paving where the binder and surface courses are paved "hot-on-hot" in a single pass, greatly accelerating activities on a job site. In addition, it is not necessary to completely close down the road: the three machines - a paver for the binder course, a paver for the surface course and a material feeder - work "in line", one behind the other, leaving one lane open to traffic, an ideal solution for rehabilitation of heavily travelled roads. The process is both economical and highly eco-friendly. The layer thickness can be reduced in "hot-on-hot" paving, thus lowering consumption of the costly surface course mix.

Palagiri adds, "The innovative Vögele SprayJet technology is helpful where bitumen emulsion can be sprayed and overlaid with an asphalt surface course. The special advantages of the innovative Vögele SprayJet technology lie in its cost efficiency and excellent environmental credentials. The process optimises the placement of thin, resource-saving, and low-noise asphalt layers."

Vögele also offers an innovative and economical solution for the road construction sector with the non-contacting Road Scan temperature measurement system. The scanning and documentation of the freshly paved asphalt's temperature is already specified in tenders in several markets, and in others there are definitive plans to implement this. After completion of the construction job, contractors can furnish detailed evidence that the temperature was maintained within the correct range using the recorded GPS data, including precise tracking.

Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President and Head, Volvo CE India explains, "Many customers choose Volvo's pavers with sensors, which are manufactured in our Bengaluru plant. Volvo CE manufactures two models: the P4370B ABG and the P5320 ABG, both of which have a maximum paving width of 7 m."

On the digital technology innovations, Krishnan elaborates, "Volvo CE has a reputation for bringing the latest technologies and innovations to the industry, allowing customers to get better productivity, reliability and efficiency from their operations. Volvo's Co-Pilot, for example, offers a range of intelligent machine services - including Dig Assist and Pave Assist - to help operators deliver higher quality outcomes, in less time and with less effort. These examples of automated and assist-functionalities differentiate Volvo's machines in the market, helping the company to stay competitive and relevant."

The road ahead
The government is planning to complete a total of 200,000 km national highways by 2022. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already fixed an overall target to award 15,000 km projects and construction of 10,000 km national highways in FY19. This is a huge opportunity for road equipment such as pavers in the years to come.