In the world of infrastructure, there are very few sectors that aren’t facing significant disruption, and for the roads and pavements sector, it’s no different. Future change offers opportunities, challenges and excitement; and while the future of transport – and the role that roads play in moving people and goods – is facing unprecedented potential disruption, the roads of the future are the key to creating the economic opportunities of tomorrow.

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It’s against the backdrop of all of this change that the Australian Asphalt Paving Association (AAPA) is hosting the 17th AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference between August 13 and 16 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The conference is the primary meeting of flexible pavement professionals in Australasia, attracting representatives from state road agencies, local government, industry, and academic institutions from across the world.

The theme of the 17th AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference is “Roads of the Future – Embracing Disruption”.

The aim is to help prepare the Australian flexible pavements sector for future challenges, by openly discussing the possible disruption that will come through new digital and physical environments and technologies.

The main objective is to provide a platform for the Flexible Pavement Industry and its stakeholders, suppliers and partners to share, consider and plan for the impacts and changes and ensure the continued growth and success of the sector.

While change within an industry can be challenging, it also offers exciting new opportunities. For those in roads and pavements, new business areas include:

  • Smart construction technologies with real-time feedback and improved process control
  • Smarter contract arrangements encouraging innovation, while better sharing any risk and reward between contractor and road agency
  • Improved reliability of the road network through continuous condition monitoring of road assets
  • Efficiencies driven by innovation
  • More flood resilient roads
  • Smoother, safer roads and more sustainable roads
  • Less disruption to road users when a road is worked on
  • Enhanced safety for both road users and road workers

In implementing these new opportunities, the industry will need to be mindful of a number of factors. According to Erik Denneman, Director, Technology and Leadership at the AAPA, chief among these is the heavy regulation of the construction industry.

“This regulation means that there are many barriers to innovation,” said Mr Denneman. “Government and industry will have to work together to overcome these barriers, so that the full potential of the technologies of the future can be realised in a timely manner.

“In addition to this, maintenance programs for road infrastructure require a constant and appropriate level of funding, which is another factor we need to be constantly aware of.”

New technologies will also have an increasingly important role to play in delivering the roads of the future.

Moving forward, the industry will have access to improved measurement and sensing technologies, like continuous temperature measurement behind asphalt pavers, GPS tracking of equipment, or even autonomous construction equipment.

There will also be drones for process control and condition monitoring of infrastructure; and the ability to use big data for asset management, combining many types of condition assessments, such as roughness, deflection, crack detection and visual condition of pavements.

Safer forward moving (instead of reversing) heavy construction equipment will also make its way into the market.

How we manage the implementation of these new technologies across the industry will be explored by the speakers at the AAPA conference.

The keynote speakers for the conference consist of a range of invited international and local speakers, ranging from technical experts to key political players.

These speakers will focus on topics including flexible pavement technology for airports, rehabilitation of failed concrete pavements, next generation bituminous surfacings, perpetual and heavy duty pavement design, smart construction and process control technology, the use of rubber derived from waste tyres in roads, resilient local and rural roads, delivering smart, safe and sustainable roads, and managing road networks in a digitally connected world.

For more information, or to book your tickets, head to www.aapa.asn.au

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