A smooth ride in the Sunshine State

A smooth ride in the Sunshine State

Paving the road for Florida’s latest mega project is the job of Volvo CE-equipped concrete and asphalt specialist Ajax Paving Industries.

Every year, millions of tourists flock to Florida’s Gulf Coast to soak up the sun and enjoy the amenities and attractions the Sunshine State has to offer. Among the many beautiful coastal cities is North Port, where tourists and residents alike are drawn to its humid subtropical climate, beaches and resorts.

But beyond the city’s sandy beaches, its residents were not so sunny. The streets of north Port had fallen into disrepair, causing transportation troubles that could not be ignored. The city worked to keep up with the maintenance needs of the roads – most of which date back to the 1960s – but dilapidation was occurring at a faster rate than repair.

In 2012, North Port was granted a $46 million (€42 million) bond to upgrade substandard roads in the city. The project began in 2014 and would take three years and include six phases. When fully completed in 2017 the project – called The Road Bond Project – will renew 428 km (266 mi) of highway and include multiple bridges. Construction of the multi-million-dollar project is now in the fast lane; by November of this year, projects planned for 2016 had surpassed the 80% completion point.

While the community rejoiced, road repair teams were preparing their own coffee cups, in anticipation for the early mornings and hot afternoons ahead.

Fail-proof philosophy

Working for the city of North Port is Ajax Paving Industries, who was given the job of milling and resurfacing 108,862 tonnes (120,000 tons) of asphalt as part of Phase Four. This includes putting an inch-and-a-quarter of SM-9.5 overlay onto existing roads.

Established in 1951 by Herb Jacob, Ajax built a strong reputation in Michigan as an asphalt and concrete contractor, before expanding operations to Florida’s Gulf Coast in 1981. For over half a century, Ajax has paved the way ahead – not just for the company, but also for the hundreds of thousands of motorists who rely on high quality roads every day.

One of the key factors for which Jacob credited the company’s early success was machine selection. He believed that if he provided his employees with the best tools to get the job done, they would provide the highest quality pavement work for their customers.

Sticking true to Jacob’s philosophy, Ajax still uses high quality equipment, including the Volvo 7170 paver, supplied by local dealer Flagler Construction Equipment’s Southwest Florida branch.

A smooth finish

The Volvo 7170 paver is fitted with the Ultimat® 200, allowing paving widths of up to six meters (20 ft). Starting at 7:00 in the morning, the screed is heated and within 30 minutes, the first load is arriving. Over the course of each day’s nine-hour shift, the crew lays between 680 and 726 tonnes (750 and 800 tons) of asphalt.

Steve Ayers, area manager for Ajax is pleased with the performance. “This is one of the industry’s true six meter (20 ft) extendable screeds,” he says. “We can complete this entire street in one pass instead of two, saving us time and money.”

Supplied with an extended warranty, the Volvo machine is operating at optimum levels. Dan Maitland, equipment operations manager at Ajax, says the Volvo Million Ton Guarantee initially encouraged him to connect with his dealer Flagler Construction Equipment.

When deciding on the right equipment, Maitland says it came down to a few things; among them is plain mathematics. “I looked at the cost of ownership throughout the entire life of a paver,” he says. “We typically run a five year lifecycle, so about 5,000 to 6,000 hours. I track our repair costs and our maintenance costs. By my calculations, for every meter hour of runtime, the Volvo 7170 consistently outperforms its competitors.”

Beyond total cost of ownership, preventative maintenance is crucial to Ajax. “Our preventative maintenance technician does a full machine inspection and we report back to Ajax if we see anything that’s a point of concern,” explains Dean Bengford, branch manager of Flagler. “Between the preventative maintenance agreements and extended warranty, we help Ajax get a better fix on operating costs and help reduce downtime.”

And Flagler has done just that, according to Maitland. So much so, that Ajax has added three Volvo P7170 pavers to the machine line up for use on projects throughout the state of Florida.

As for The Road Bond Project, when fully completed next year it will provide North Port commuters – and holidaymakers – a smooth enough ride to take a sip of coffee without encountering a bump in the road.

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