Advanced Concepts & Engineering; the Coming Global Leader in Automated Aggregate Quality Control Testing
DEXTER, ME Through the enumeration of equipment available in the quality control world for aggregates and aggregate production, Advanced Concepts & Engineering is rapidly solidifying their seat as the coming global leader in automated aggregate quality control testing.
Lead under the studious eye of Joel Costonis - President and Founder - Advanced Concepts & Engineering (ACE) continues to prove that ACE will be a force to be reckoned with. Having gone from design, to engineering, to proof of concept to defining ACE's dominance in a head to head time-to-test competition against standard method AASHTO/ASTM methods T11/C117 and T27/C136, Costonis has the eye of the industry watching as the ACE Auto-Grade clearly declares its advantage.
This past summer, Costonis arranged a head to head challenge where he positioned the ACE Auto-Grade against standard equipment and a seasoned technician to conduct standard gradations. The clear difference in a reduction of time-to-test, with the ACE Auto-Grade completing the test 48 percent faster than the standard, it was clear that the ACE Auto-Grade has begun to claim its place as the coming standard in automated testing.
Costonis described the process he has gone through in developing the ACE Auto-Grade. "..fun, challenging, exciting and rewarding. This unit quickly reminds one of the old adage that if it were easy, someone would have already done it." Adding his 'right hand man' Bruce Bushey, Director of Automation, and the rest of his team have "many, many thousands of hours, rewrites, and revisions committed."
Looking for further information as to the level of technology included in the ACE Auto-Grade, we sought further information. "The ACE Auto-Grade is not simply a mechanical device, it's a solution. In the industry, time-to-test can mean the difference between a great week of paving or many thousands of dollars in penalties and/or rework. First we perfected the automation of the test, then we sped it up. Well, now that we had a faster test, we moved on to the generated data and what to do with it. In summary, for example a post burn gradation; from the time the sample is loaded and the report is automatically emailed to the road, the plant, the supervisor and anyone else that wants the test, only 11 minutes has gone by. Not to mention the fact that the sample can go directly from the oven to the ACE Auto-Grade."
Naturalist Ethan Shaw of Oregon reports that even minor temperature variations (>100F) seen at high elevations result in broken boulders and rocks. Thermal Stress on different types of aggregate - while in a conductive heat setting as hot plates etc - invites thermal shock thereby instituting rapid thermal fatigue in the specimen being studied.
We don't dry by heat. In basic science we know that heat destroys and cold preserves. We dry by evaporation. When our samples are dry - on average 35 percent faster than an oven, they are cold, thereby preserved with no sample degradation."
In an aggregate lab, one gets used to seeing certain items. Some used for testing, office equipment etc. Distinctly missing from the in-house lab at Advanced Concepts & Engineering is the all too common collection of pencils, calculators, collection of notes and a collection of papers being shuffled. Having used the unit first hand, the environment is clearly different. When asked to expound of the preceding, again we are again greeted by the Costonis smile of determination. Referring back to his research papers, Costonis states, "Dr. Randy West of the National Center for Asphalt Technology calls for a need to 'reduce the time lag for quality control information, and to improve the reliability of the data.'
Dr. West, as well as many other industry leaders fully acknowledge the fact that 'most of the tests used in QC and acceptance testing suffer from poor precision. Part of the poor precision is attributable to sampling and testing variability which are related to the skill and ability of technicians'. The unit is employed with proprietary software that not only conducts the test, but completes all calculations required to deliver a certifiable result then delivers the same through an automated email system via the onboard WiFI. A notable portion of test failures are the result of miscalculations and things of such.
"I suppose if one really wanted to double check the report, the system interface is a Windows 10 fully functional computer with a calculator and Excel on it," Costonis finishes with a confident grin.