As the concrete paving industry moved forward, automation became the key word. Not only did the industry and its hardware grow in physical size, but more importantly, it grew into a sophisticated, technical industry. Work was done in hundredths, rather than tenths.
Paving was done to profilograph rather than just straight edge; yield loss became a key term to the contractor. The size of paving crews was reduced.
Automated finegrading was brought onto the scene. Trimmers were developed that were highly mobile, and had the ability to trim less than a 24-foot-wide roadway. They were equipped with automatic controls for line, grade and slope and could load excess materials into haul units or backfill behind curbs. In addition they had the ability to excavate as much as 2 to 3 or 4 inches of material. Then came the city slipform paver machines that satisfy a wide range of paving requirements. Slipform paving from a 10-foot alley to a 36-foot boulevard with curb on one or both sides is as common today as a 34E or 11S mixer was years ago.
Computers are becoming the brains of the concrete plant, giving producer and user more positive control over the concrete. Accuracy of batching, material inventory, record keeping, ticketing, control over the many mixes produced in a day or a week's time—all of these can be handled by a computer. Finally, lasers are being used to control finegrading and paving machines. Until recently lasers were not suited to the road and street construction atmosphere. However, advances in mating the laser to construction equipment have proved successful. This technology will expand in the future.