At the cutting edge

posted on 27th September 2023
At the cutting edge

SMETS Technology, a company based in Hoppegarten, near Berlin, is a specialist in high-pressure water surface treatment of runways and roadways. Its trucks are a common feature of airports around the world but it also offers a range of cutting-edge support equipment that enables runway maintenance teams keep their pavements in the best possible condition

One of the tools that SMETS Technology offers to supplement its core vehicle portfolio of airport runway cleaner (ARC) trucks is the ELAtextur, a small piece of equipment used to measure the macrotexture of pavements.
Sascha Smets, one of the three managing directors at SMETS Technology and responsible for the company’s sales and marketing, explains that the macrotexture of a pavement is essentially determined by the very small gaps in the surface of the concrete or asphalt making up a pavement. It is those gaps that allow water to drain away: if water cannot drain away, then there is potential for an aircraft to aquaplane dangerously on that surface.
Traditional methods of determining pavement macrotexture use consumables such as sand or water and have been prone to operator error, but the ELAtextur device is accurate, quick and mitigates pretty much all operating error factors, it is said.
The unit is equipped with a rotating laser sensor that scans the pavement, while an integrated mini-computer controls the device. The software delivers a mean profile depth (MPD) result on the texture of the surface as well as an estimated texture depth (ETD) value from every measurement.
Those results are displayed on the device. Moreover, they can also be transferred to a USB stick for analysis elsewhere.
An integrated GPS can be provided as an option for users to determine and record the location of their measurement locations.
Ideally, maintenance teams will regularly employ the device to test a runway macrotexture, but such measurements are particularly valuable following a process of rubber removal or other regular maintenance work carried out on a pavement.
The ELAtextur need not be used along the length and breadth of an entire runway, as is the case for friction testing – just on select spots as required (though Sascha Smets points out that all pavement macrotexture will slowly deteriorate from the pressure of aircraft weight and from temperature changes which slowly force the bitumen of the pavement material to the surface in a process that might be described as ‘sweating’).
The ELAtextur was first developed by precision measurement specialist IWS Messtechnik a little more than a decade ago, but some time ago IWS approached SMETS Technology for its help in developing the potential of the product further, not least in offering its capabilities alongside those of SMETS’s own CSR friction testing equipment. (The overall friction value of a pavement surface is determined by both the macrotexture of that surface and its microtexture, the latter being a factor of the smoothness of the individual granules making up that surface.)
SMETS Technology and IWS have worked together to further evolve the ELAtextur and the former now also markets and sells the product. Measuring equipment working alongside the ELAtextur can be installed on a SMETS Technology’s CSR friction testing vehicle.
Such a combination of equipment can also be installed by another friction tester original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on its vehicles.
However it is used, the ELAtextur represents a “great solution” for airports whether or not they currently use SMETS Technology’s state-of-the-art high-pressure water surface treatment trucks, Sascha Smets suggests.

Staying in control
SMETS Technology is investing in various new solutions that are designed to support its customers in any way it can. Since April this year, the company has been rolling out a new 4K software control system for its trucks. The touchscreen-operated system is based on software entirely designed and developed by SMETS.
Plus, the company has developed a new method for increasing the reflectivity of road markings only through water treatment without the need to remove and remark them. This leads to enormous cost and time savings.