Imagine if your office was located on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, far away from every modern convenience and face-to-face with a brutal mix of arctic cold and winds. Then, when your work was done, your company transfers you to a tiny isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around 1000 miles from the coast of Africa and 1400 miles from the coast of South America.

The only thing in common with your last location is that, once again, you are completely isolated from modern conveniences like restaurants and retail stores, like cable television and high speed Internet. In fact, the only conveniences available are the ones that these employees bring with them to the job.

Based in Albuquerque, NM, Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) is an international research and engineering company with more than 1400 employees and with divisions and satellite offices across the United States and Canada. The company’s Transportation Infrastructure Division provides pavement engineering services for hundreds of government and private roadways, airfields, parking areas, and intermodal facilities throughout the world. And as you can imagine, employees in ARA’s Transportation Infrastructure Division must be resourceful, tough, and must rely on tools and equipment that are just as rugged.

Business Situation
The members of ARA’s Transportation Infrastructure Division spend a good amount of time either surveying private, commercial, and military airport runways, or monitoring the repair of these runways. The company monitors and reports on the pavement condition of these runways by using a variety of tools and equipment, from cameras to computerized surveying tools to Keson’s measuring wheels.

“No matter how well you build a runway, the asphalt or concrete will eventually deteriorate, and this deterioration is the concern,” said Nathan Wilds, senior electrical engineering technician, Applied Research Associates. “As a runway comes apart and breaks into small pieces, which we call FOD (foreign object debris), this FOD has the potential to be drawn into jet engines and destroy an engine. If large enough, this FOD can lead to catastrophic tire failure on take-off or landing, and even potential skin damage to the airplane.”

The quality assurance and surveying work performed by ARA’s transportation specialists includes recording any documented “distresses” in a runway’s condition that allows the airport operators to understand the amount of useful life a runway still may have, as well as where repairs need to be made, how soon those repairs must be made, and whether repairs are being executed properly.

This work takes the ARA teams to every corner of the earth, and often also sees the teams supervising the repair work of runways. The company must document and report the ongoing work, and that is where Keson’s measuring wheels come in. The equipment ARA relies upon must be rugged and portable, since they are often in remote locations on military airbases.

Since the ARA transportation infrastructure teams usually find themselves in remote locations, they need to know that they can count on their equipment to stand up to extreme weather conditions and heavy use. If something breaks, they usually cannot run down to a local hardware store and replace it, and rarely are they able to just have replacement tools shipped overnight.

“Keson’s wheels are with us everywhere we go, and used for everything we do,” said Wilds. “We use them 8 to 10 hours a day.” Wilds and his team at ARA frequently use Keson’s dual-wheel Roadrunner RR182 model in their work, and enjoy the measuring wheel’s portability, thanks to its telescoping handle.

Wilds said his team has been through countless brands of measuring wheels “that just don’t work. Keson’s wheels really seem more durable than any of the other wheels we have ever seen. And we really like the lock-and-reset button on the Roadrunner RR182 models that we can set with the toe of a boot, it is just very convenient.”