Contractors are expanding their revenue streams by providing longer lasting cures for potholes.

Sweeping contractors see them all of the time, especially during Spring clean-up. They make the job of sweeping more difficult and can damage sweeping equipment. For many roads and parking areas plagued by potholes, it may seem like the repairs never end—and that’s because for many municipalities and contractors using traditional “throw and go” repair methods, workers often find themselves fixing the same pothole over and over again.

“They’re truly just throwing asphalt in the hole, and they’re going to the next hole,” said Frank Connelly of RCM Specialties Inc., an asphalt maintenance contractor and dealer of pavement repair equipment. “It’s a very fast process, but there’s no longevity to it.”

Connelly champions another option to resolve pothole woes: spray patching. Called “the most economical and longest lasting method of pothole repair” by the National Research Council’s Strategic Highway Program report, spray patching is a safe, cost-effective technology that offers durable, reliable pothole repair.

How It Works
Truck-mounted models, such as Schwarze Industries’ RP7 Roadpatcher, or trailer mounted units such as the Schwarze SP10 Loadking are all-in-one solutions for spray patching. Both units contain aggregate and emulsion onboard and utilize a four-step process to complete pothole repairs. First, a blower uses compressed air to clean debris from the pothole and surrounding cracks. Second, the area is tacked with a hot asphalt emulsion to provide adhesion to the existing pavement. Next, the pothole is filled with a combination of the aggregate mix and the hot asphalt emulsion. Finally, a dry coat is applied.

According to Connelly, using this method with the proper aggregate mix results in a 90% or greater compaction rate, without the use of a compactor. “[Operators] don’t have to go and drive over it [and] they don’t have to roll it,” he said. “They can truly do their patch and drive to the next one.”

Spray patchers can be operated by just one worker, helping to save on labor costs when compared with the throw-and-go method, which typically requires a crew of three to five people. For truck mounted units the operator is able to stay in the cab of the truck, allowing for safe completion of repairs, even on high-volume roads. Connelly noted that this also helps limit the operator’s exposure to silica dust.

Training is required to familiarize the operator with the spray patching process and controls. According to Connelly, the Roadpatcher is “truly one of the easiest for the operator to get in step with.” Once up to speed with the process, one operator can put down approximately 9 tons of material in a day, he said.

Once a pothole has been repaired using spray patching, it is unlikely the municipality or contractor will have to revisit it anytime soon, as the average lifespan of a spray patch repair is five to seven years. This is good news for contractors who have to guarantee their work. The process is effective for shallow or deep pothole repairs, repairs can be conducted year-round on either asphalt or concrete.

Connelly warns against pigeonholing spray patching as just a pothole repair technology, however. Other applications include repairing alligator cracking and cup cracking, priming for chip sealing and more. “You can treat this as a traditional type of an asphalt, to where if you needed to do a utility cut repair, you can do that,” he said. “You can roll it. You can plate it. It’s a very versatile process.”

Sourcing the correct emulsion and aggregate is important. Most asphalt plants have the RS-2 and #9 aggregate on hand. Connelly will purchase enough to store at his facility in Hastings, MN during the winter months when hot mix asphalt plants are closed for the season. It sometimes makes spray patching the only hot mix solution available when the asphalt plants are closed from January-March. When the spray patchers are not in use they can be plugged in to an outlet so the emulsion is maintained at a proper storage temperature.

To learn more about the business of spray patching visit RCM’s website: www.rcmspecialties.com

To learn more about the Schwarze RP7 Roadpatcher or the SP-10 LoadKing trailer mounted unit visit www.SCHWARZE.com and inquire about a demo in your area.

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