Header Digitalisierung im Straßenbau

Digitization in Road Construction - Best Information for Better Decisions.

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder, Managing Director of Q Point, spoke at the “Asphaltseminar 2024” in Germany, about the possibilities of making asphalt road construction more efficient and sustainable with digital solutions.

Q Point develops such software solutions. We, from the specialist magazine "asphalt", spoke with Dr. Leopoldseder about digitization and its possibilities from the asphalt mixing plant to transportation to the construction site.

Articel in the specialist magazine "asphalt 03/24"

asphalt: One often gets the impression that computer-assisted work is already considered as digitization in some companies. How would you describe the difference?

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: We know that Excel is the most popular digital tool for practically everything: On the construction site, we manually enter our orders, then the mix master transfers them again into his Excel file at the asphalt mixing plant. In between, there's a lot of back and forth on the phone to coordinate. That's cumbersome for everyone. However, digitization reduces effort. Let's take our system as an example.

On a tablet, we create our construction site and our orders, and automatically receive feedback from the asphalt mixing plant when the order is accepted and can be delivered in the desired timeframe. Shifts can be made in the system. At the asphalt mixing plant, planning can then be done calmly to provide feedback to the construction site again. The advantage is obvious: I'm not constantly on the phone either at the mixing plant or on the construction site.

When we have a true digital solution, not only are all the data entered once automatically available to everyone involved, but the company also benefits from standardized processes that are consistent across every construction site and simplifying the work. A digital solution can eliminate the need to search for misplaced delivery notes and can automate the distribution of documents. Additionally, personnel shortages can be managed much more easily through uniform processes.

"Digitalization is not a sprint; it's a marathon. It requires endurance."

asphalt: Does digitization, offer a universal toolbox of solutions for all the problems faced by today's road construction companies?

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: Yes and no, as we need a dose of realism with all these possibilities: We can't solve all problems with software. However, we can make a significant contribution, especially in topics like efficiency and sustainability. Digitization is not an end in itself; rather, we aim to connect the people working at the asphalt mixing plant, on the construction site, in the administration, or in transport, so that they have the best information to make better decisions. We want to relieve them of administrative tasks so they can focus on what digital solutions cannot yet handle. We aim to create traceability, thereby preventing disputes, such as how long a truck was actually on-site and had to wait. Additionally, we want to provide automated process documentation to make this information usable later.

asphalt: You said that digital solutions contribute to greater sustainability in road construction. Can you describe this with examples?

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: I can think of several examples. But let's take temperature reduction as a specific topic, especially since it was a major focus at the asphalt seminar. There's a lot of discussion about producing low-temperature asphalt, but transportation and installation are equally important. Every delay at the construction site increases the risk of the asphalt becoming too cold, which can render it unworkable. This means that, particularly for low-temperature asphalt, the logistics chain, and the information regarding when the trucks arrive at the site are crucial.

Our approach is to implement a digital process: from on-site planning through the ordering process to optimized production planning at the asphalt mixing plant. Our system displays digital transport information so that the construction site knows where each truck is and when the asphalt mix will arrive. At the same time, a digital delivery order is sent via app to the truck driver with all the necessary information, such as the best route to the construction site. At the asphalt mixing plant, the transport information helps to identify any delays and when the trucks will return. This allows production to be adjusted accordingly.

asphalt: Digital solutions are already quite common in asphalt paving. What advantages do they offer for temperature reduction? What are the key factors?

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: Compaction control is of course of higher importance in temperature reduction. It is also much easier with digital tools than without. For us, it is important that our solutions are independent of machinery. Quality control should be comprehensive and target-oriented, which means that I set target values for temperature and passes and can digitally measure them permanently. We equip pavers and rollers with appropriate sensors and displays to continuously inform the drivers about the values. This means that we can show the roller driver exactly what still needs to be done during the compaction work.

asphalt: Earlier, you mentioned that one needs a dose of realism because software can't solve all problems, but it can often make a significant contribution. What did you mean by that?

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: Let's consider the work at the mixing plant as an example: with our software, we can't change the prices and availabilities of energy and raw materials, but we can provide better information about them, allowing for improved and more accurate production planning — for instance, for joint production across multiple asphalt mixing plants. This can lead to energy consumption and cost savings. Digital tools can also help gather and analyze experiential data along the defined process chain to predict CO2 emissions for future tenders.

asphalt: That brings us to the topic of sustainability as a criterion for tendering...

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: Right, and very soon it will be about Environmental Product Declarations or EPDs. To calculate the environmental impact in this form, I also recommend acquiring an appropriate digital solution that largely operates automatically in the background along the defined process, rather than burdening your employees with it.

asphalt: Sounds like a universal toolkit of possibilities. But it also seems like a lot of work to implement something like that in a company, doesn't it?

Dr. Thomas Leopoldseder: Yes, digitalization is not a sprint but a marathon. It requires endurance. For such a process to be successful in a company, it needs a vision from the start, a clear idea of the goal the company wants to achieve with digital means. And behind it must be a clear commitment from management.