The asphalt paving market evolves

By Jeff Winke

Green represents new beginnings and growth. It also signifies renewal and abundance. Green also means to continually improve upon the manner that resources are used that results in a reduced impact to human health and the environment and is done without sacrificing the current and future needs of our world.

The asphalt paving industry has joined in.

“You’re seeing a drive here from everyone…government, states, cities, counties and also from most of the very large-sized contractors for this green sustainability movement,” stated Bryce Davis, director of sales, Leeboy. Lincolnton, North Carolina. ‘They all seem to be setting goals to reach their own zero carbon footprint. Some have aggressive goals right away and others are setting small ones to reach first.”

The industry is increasingly showing its greenness through electrification—electric equipment and machines.

“The use of 100% electric sweepers is becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S. since starting in Europe,” stated Sean Brunger, North American sales manager for Schmidt Sweepers with Meyer Products LLC, Cleveland, Ohio “We have now started electrifying our U.S. models of Schmidt Sweepers. This market will continue to grow immensely, much the same as the EV car market has, over the foreseeable future.”

Brunger continued, “Two models of our German-manufactured Schmidt sweepers have been electrified and are available in North America They were developed from their diesel models, but are now 100% fully electric. It’s possible that manufacturers looking to reduce emissions with large-scale equipment will make the move to hydrogen-powered fuel cells in the future.”

There is interest in electric power.

“The street sweeper industry is progressing towards an electric future,” stated Tim Letts, product manager, Elgin Sweeper, Elgin, Illinois. “As more states adapt ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicles) targets and stricter emissions standards, electric vehicles are becoming a reality. Elgin just debuted the Electric Broom Bear. It’s a first of its kind truck-mounted sweeper utilizing an all-electric chassis. It’s fully electric and provides an uncompromised performance.”

It is electrifying.

“Electric power is here and it’s real,” Davis said. “When you have some of your largest accounts, equipment dealers, rental companies, and asphalt paving contractors asking us for this type of product, you have to listen and react. It’s certainly exciting for our Engineering Department having the opportunity to explore and design this new future and the potential that the electric products bring to helping our customers reach their greener goals.”
Electric power is just one facet the asphalt paving market is addressing in its effort to provide greener options to its customers.

“One factor of equipment becoming greener that can sometimes get overlooked is making machines more efficient,” stated Letts. “We are always looking for ways to make our equipment more efficient because this leads to less energy consumed and less waste being generated. When designing our electric broom model, we redesigned the hydraulic system to be 50% more efficient than previous systems. Combined with the battery technology of the chassis, our Electric Broom Bear is incredibly green.

“At Elgin, we’re not only thinking of innovating street sweepers that are electric or hybrid, our sweepers also have to meet the performance and support needs of our customers.”

There are other green practices evident in the industry.

“Vacuum sweeping is becoming more of a requirement in certain areas,” Brunger said. “When sweeping on porous, self-draining asphalt, vacuum sweeping is the recommended sweeping practice. It cuts down on the amount of dust that is created compared to a traditional mechanical sweeping process. Think of it in terms of using a broom or a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner results in a fewer dust particles going into the air.”

Additionally, one needs to recognize that green practices have been exercised by the sweeping segment all along.

“Street sweeping in general, Letts said, removes plastics, litter and other harmful metals from the roadways which helps preserve wildlife and our environment. Beyond using electric and hybrid sweepers, street sweepers are a method that helps fleets practice ways to help their surrounding environment. For example, dumping the sweeper’s contents into a container or a dump truck keeps pollutants from eventually contaminating storm water.

If municipalities sweep prior to rain events, sweep often and sweep where there is dirt, they help prevent all those items from running into whichever stormwater runoff system is nearby and that helps improve water quality.”

Beginnings and growth, renewal and abundance are all indicators of the greening of the asphalt paving market. Clearly an exciting time.