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Rubber tracked asphalt pavers are available in a wide range of sizes, from those that pave four feet wide for building walking paths, to those that can attain paving widths of 60 feet or more when placing interstate highways. These paving machines include two basic units: the tractor, propelled by crawler-type tracks, and a floating screed at the rear of the machine.
The tractor portion of an asphalt spreader incorporates a hopper in the front that receives material from a dump truck or from a material-transfer vehicle. Material from the hopper flows to the front of the screed by several means: gravity; slat-type conveyors; or augers. The screed is basically a heavy metal plate that shapes the pliant asphalt. The asphalt screed is heated and vibrates to increase the material’s density. Some pavers use tamper bars.
The screed levels and partially compacts the asphalt to the specified thickness, grade, slope, and crown profile. The screed is attached to the paver machine with tow arms, providing a means for adjusting the screed to control material thickness. The asphalt paver follows a reference point to control the screed, often using sonar sensors that follow an existing surface.
Electronic control systems using digital project maps in conjunction with universal total stations or satellite guidance have allowed even precise control of the screed, resulting in mats that are exceeding smooth. In addition, most of these machines are equipped with control stations that promote the safety, comfort, and efficiency of the operator.