RMAEC Offers Certification for Process Control/Owners’ Acceptance Testing
BY Tom Clayton
Asphalt construction plays a vital role in building and maintaining our transportation infrastructure. To ensure high-quality results and long-lasting roads, it is essential to emphasize the significance of proper training for process control and owners’ acceptance (PC/OA) testing.
Process control refers to the systematic management of construction processes to ensure compliance with specifications, industry standards, and best practices. In the context of asphalt construction, process control involves monitoring and optimizing various stages, such as material selection, mixing, paving, and compaction. Adequate training for personnel involved in these processes is crucial for the following reasons:
- Quality assurance;
- Efficiency and cost reduction; and
- Safety and environmental considerations.
Owners’ acceptance testing is a crucial step in asphalt construction, where the completed pavement is evaluated against predetermined criteria and specifications. This testing phase involves collaboration between the construction team and the project owners. The significance of owners’ acceptance testing can be understood through the following points:
- Quality assurance and compliance;
- Performance assessment;
- Accountability and warranty; and
- Public perception and trust.
To achieve the desired outcomes in asphalt construction, it is crucial to invest in comprehensive training programs for personnel involved in process control and owners’ acceptance testing. These training programs should cover the following aspects:
- Technical knowledge;
- Equipment and technology;
- Safety and environmental awareness; and
- Collaboration and communication.
The training arm of the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA)—the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Education Center (RMAEC)—is poised to help with such training by offering a session titled “Introduction to PC/OA Testing.” CAPA established the RMAEC in the mid-1980s when the Federal requirement to have certified technicians was being implemented. CAPA worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to develop the certification program (LabCAT) to be operated by CAPA under the watch of a board of directors made up of CDOT, FHWA, consultants and contractors.
They also established a technical committee to create the instruction materials for the certification program. The technical group is constantly monitoring and updating the materials being instructed.
A need was determined to get technicians prepared to sit for certification as it was a new program and requirement so the Introduction to PC/OA class was developed.
The RMAEC facilities are located adjacent to the CAPA offices in Centennial, Colorado. The facility has a training/certification room capable of seating about 20 people for a session. In the facility there are six individual rooms, which are the laboratory procedure room. The rooms will host one or more of the required lab procedures to be performed during the introduction or certification sessions. The RMAEC laboratory is a fully functioning lab for training purposes only. It is equipped with the most modern and relative equipment used in the asphalt testing industry.
Test it Out
“Introduction to PC/OA Testing” is an introductory course designed to help technicians new to the industry understand and perform current CDOT/AASHTO test procedures used in the process control and owners’ acceptance testing of asphalt paving materials (APM), and in the placement of asphalt pavements. The training includes classroom instruction and hands-on experience in the laboratory. During the week, the attendees work with the RMAEC instructor each day. If they return for certification at a later date, the same instructor will be the person leading those as well.
Attendance at the sessions is limited to allow the necessary time and attention while in the learning session. The sessions are limited to no more than 12 people in each of the four days of training. The usual makeup of a session is the first day will be the most participants with the numbers declining each of the following days as the procedures become more technical and complex.
Within the class session, each of the attendees is provided with a guidebook, which contains a PowerPoint presentation for each of the procedures that will be taught over the four days. Those are for attendees to keep as detailed notes or comments as they feel necessary to get the most from the instruction. The RMAEC provides the attendees with any other materials they would need, such as gloves or other safety equipment when in the laboratory rooms.
The instructor starts in the training room with a detailed presentation of each of the individual procedures that are used in the LabCAT certification program. These are presented one or two at a time depending on the different procedures. When the classroom portion is completed, the instructor will have the attendees move into one of six lab rooms to see a demonstration of how the procedure or test is executed.
After the demonstration, each of the attendees is provided the opportunity, under the supervision of the instructor, to do firsthand performance of the various testing procedures. The attendees may run the procedure as many times as they feel necessary to have a decent grasp of the test procedure. While they are in the process the instructor will provide guidance and correct any errors in running the different procedures. After the lab portion is completed, the students return to the training room to begin preparation for the next procedure or test process. This continues throughout the day until each of the level’s procedures have been completed.
The course format is divided into four separate one-day sessions. Participants may register for any combination of the days, depending on the information desired and needed to perform their duties for a contractor or consultant.
The first day
geared for those who are new and performing the most basic testing in the field during laydown operations such as sampling of asphalt mixes, sampling aggregate and performing nuclear density testing, observing and documenting a compaction test section (CTS), and random sampling plans
- Participants will perform aggregate sampling from a miniature stockpile using the plate and shovel method and from a stopped conveyer belt using the belt cut template.
- Participants will perform testing using the Troxler or Instrotek nuclear gauges—without sources in the machines.
The second day
focused on testing procedures in the lab such as Maximum Theoretical Density (RICE)
- Participants will split out a sample of the appropriate size, get weights on the flasks, introduce the materials into the flask, cover it with water, place it on the shaker rack and apply vacuum following all the necessary times, temperatures and vacuum.
- Participants will perform Bulk Specific Gravity.
- Participants will reduce samples to testing size.
- Participants will find binder content by ignition and nuclear oven methods.
- Participants will perform gradation analysis and splitting aggregate.
The third day
focused on volumetric testing and compaction of samples using the gyratory compactor
- Participants will use a sample they split out the day before, which was placed in the oven to heat.
- They will remove the sample and mold, place the materials into the mold following the test procedure, place the heated mold into the gyratory compactor and then extract the specimen at the completion. Participants will also learn moisture damage testing by performing the Lottman Test.
The final day
focused on testing of aggregate properties for materials used in the design and production of asphalt paving materials including coarse and fine aggregates.
- Participants will learn Toughness and Tenacity, Micro Deval utilizing the equipment in our laboratory introducing a sample into the drum, adding the water and charges. Setting the equipment for the required number of rotations and extracting the materials at the end of the test.
- Participants will learn Fine Aggregate Angularity testing by placing the graded materials into the cylinder without causing vibration; this becomes a challenge for new people and sometimes for experienced lab personnel. And more.
This training is useful for both entry level technicians who are preparing for asphalt technician certification (LabCAT), as well as for more seasoned technicians who may be re-entering the testing arena or changing levels of knowledge. There could be great benefit to inspectors and engineers who desire more knowledge about testing procedures, how they are to be conducted during a paving project, and basic information on how the test results may affect the quality of the pavement.
Proper training for PC/OA testing is indispensable for ensuring high-quality asphalt construction. By equipping personnel with the necessary knowledge and skills, PC can enhance the overall quality, efficiency and safety of asphalt construction. Similarly, OA testing provides a comprehensive evaluation of the constructed pavement, ensuring compliance with specifications, assessing performance and promoting accountability. Investing in comprehensive training programs for PC/OA testing is a key step toward building durable, functional and trusted road infrastructure. The final PC/OA introduction course for 2023 is Oct. 10-13 and CAPA requests you email email@example.com to express your interest.
Tom Clayton is the director of training and member services for the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association and the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Education Center.