Volvo Road Institute paves 45 years in teaching

Volvo Road Institute paves 45 years in teaching

Thousands of industry professionals have been taught the ABCs of asphalt paving at Volvo Construction Equipment’s Road Institute over the last 45 years, earning the North American establishment a respected reputation within the road building industry.

Collectively, Steve Neal and Wayne Tomlinson have nearly 60 years experience in the asphalt industry. Both are instructors at Volvo Construction Equipment’s Road Institute in North America.

It is this experience that has attracted paving crew personnel, supervisors, state highway administrators and asphalt production professionals to the institute for the last 45 years. Training philosophy at the institute is simple: to teach participants how to operate asphalt paver and compactor machines, to educate them on best practice, and how to recognize and correct common problems that occur while paving.

Classes are held in two training centers: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and Phoenix, Arizona and include both classroom and practical learning. There are 16 courses, which run every year over a nine month period.

45 years of training
The Volvo Road Institute began in 1965 when Blaw-Knox, a leading road building equipment manufacturer, established factory training to provide instruction on the maintenance and operation of Blaw-Knox equipment to improve the asphalt industry.

Blaw-Knox recognized that the asphalt industry was gaining momentum by the mid-1960s after President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956, which provided $25 billion to construct the Interstate Highway System and kick-start the economy in the wake of a looming recession. The Act boosted asphalt production – a key aspect in the nation’s construction industry. But as the industry progressed, new technology systems created unknowns for contractors, state agencies and manufacturers. So in the 1970s, Blaw-Knox established a formal training center, where courses in operations, maintenance and mechanical training were available for industry-wide participation. In 1997, the training facility officially became the Road Institute and in 2007 it was taken over by Volvo Construction Equipment in its purchase of the Ingersoll Rand road machinery business.

Paving the way
“Over the years, I have acquired a background in asphalt and road construction, but to be honest, there is no substitute for hands-on training,” says John Morgan, a technical sales representative for MeadWestvaco, who attended a three-day course on asphalt paver and compactor operations and maintenance at the Road Institute. “I had the opportunity to crawl around and get inside the equipment. I listened to the instructors talk about the operation of the equipment and what happens when it isn’t properly maintained.”

Attendees on Morgan’s course are introduced to asphalt paving and compaction equipment through a mixture of classroom theory and outdoor practice.
In a classroom environment, Steve Neal, paving instructor, teaches best paving practices. He discusses factors that affect the screed and how to control these to achieve the perfect mat. Compaction instructor Wayne Tomlinson discusses consistency in rolling patterns and how to maintain the correct rolling speed for proper impact spacing. “We look at how the machines work, how the screed smoothes and seals the asphalt material and what amplitude and frequency is in compaction,” says Tomlinson.

The class also receives hands-on training outdoors to learn how to operate the equipment correctly and efficiently. This begins with a ‘walk-around’ of each piece of equipment to discuss maintenance procedures, point out major control systems and important daily and weekly checks to be carried out. One of the most important aspects is jobsite safety, which is placed at the forefront of every operation.

Volvo Road Institute

Then instructors take each class through a paving operation. The class paves a mat 50 yards long and 12 feet wide using a Volvo PF6110 tracked paver, with an Omni 318 screed. The students run the paver and the screed using manual controls as instructors observe. After a few yards, the group stops to assess the operation and mat.

Afterwards, Tomlinson focuses the group on compaction, using a Volvo DD38HF double drum compactor. Each attendee rolls and compacts the freshly laid sand mat. The class is instructed on the various rolling patterns they learned the day before, such as the five-pass pattern or a side-by-side pattern. The class discusses joint matching, the automatic grade and slope controls on the paver and the use of electronic controls for leveling.

“In my daily work I need to engage a wide range of people and the more information I have, the more valuable I am to my customer,” explains Morgan. “I really learned a lot at the Road Institute – and I’ve worked in the industry my entire career.”

Volvo Road Institute

For more information about Volvo’s Road Institute, or to book a course, please visit:


January, 2011

Picture 1: Students at Volvo Construction Equipment’s Road Institute are taught paving best practice with hands-on training using a Volvo PF6110 tracked paver.
Picture 2: A Volvo DD38HF double drum compactor is used at the Volvo Road Institute to teach attendees how to roll and compact. The class is instructed on the various rolling patterns such as the five-pass pattern or a side-by-side pattern.
Picture 3: Instructors at the Volvo Road Institute conduct a ‘walk-around’ of each piece of paving and compacting equipment to discuss maintenance procedures, point out major control systems and discuss safety.

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Bill Law
Director, External Communications
Volvo Construction Equipment
Tel: int + 32 478 92 43 26

Brian O’Sullivan
Tel: int +44 77 333 50307