New lab offers research and testing of construction materials

A laboratory that recently opened in New York is providing private companies and government agencies access to a full range of research and testing services for construction materials used primarily in the transportation industry.

QCQA Laboratories, a division of asphalt-paving product manufacturer TransTech Systems and located in Schenectady, N.Y., was founded with the goal of bringing technological advances used in the aerospace and electronic industries to the transportation construction field, according to David Apkarian, president of the company.

Apkarian said many construction, civil engineering and related disciplines rely on methods that have changed little during past decades.

“There’s very little competition for what we do,” he said. “We’re cutting edge for the industry.”

QCQA Labs offers numerous testing options for asphalt, concrete, soils and steel as well as various other technical services. Apkarian said the company has many years of civil engineering testing experience involving asphalt pavement structures, soils and the structural analysis of bridges.

“We are looking forward to expanding on the vast knowledge we have gained from the development of testing equipment for these industries and to offering those services, at a very fair price, to organizations in need of them,” he said.

The New York State Department of Transportation was one of those in need of QCQA Labs’ services. The state agency is currently field-testing prototypes of the Safety Edge Maker. This device was developed to address the danger to drivers presented by shoulder-edge drop-offs common on many rural roads.

The NYSDOT funded $75,000 of the Safety Edge Maker’s development costs.

Gary Frederick, director of the Transportation and Research Bureau of the NYSDOT, said a phased implementation of a pavement edge treatment should begin in late summer.

“The TransTech device is one of several that have been demonstrated to successfully construct this edge,” Frederick said. He said the product should meet specification requirements and be available off-the-shelf rather than having to be custom-designed.

Studies conducted by several national transportation agencies revealed many run-off-road collisions are the result of pavement edge drop-offs. The studies also indicate 4,000 fatalities and costs exceeding $40 billion annually are the result of pavement edge drop-offs, which are usually only 3 to 4 inches.

The Safety Edge Maker consists of a mounting plate that attaches to the screed face of a variety of paving machines. It produces a pavement edge fillet of
45 degrees or less – consistent with the angle studies show reduces accidents. It also compacts the fillet, providing long-term stability with virtually no extra cost in labor, material or time for edge drop-offs ranging from zero to five inches, according to a report by TransTech Systems.

Frederick said QCQA is developing several devices the New York DOT finds “interesting.”

“We look forward to continuing working with them, as we do with any company developing new and innovative products in the transportation field,” he said.

Apkarian said QCQA Labs has also been contracted by several major OEMs to develop product solutions. He declined to reveal names of the manufacturers, but said they were the “bigger ones in the business.”

A current listing of QCQA Labs’ asphalt design, production and asphalt laydown inspection services includes HMA density testing, core sample analysis, perpetual pavement design and mix verifications and segregation testing.

Apkarian said the small amount of practical testing done in the transportation industry hurts everyone. He said most research and design funding is funneled to universities, which don’t always provide testing needed in the real world.

“Our research and design guys can produce a beneficial, attractive product and the lab guys can break it in 20 minutes,” he said.

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at [email protected].