An Irishman’s journey through Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
I have just returned after two very enjoyable working weeks on the road, meeting very dedicated and hardworking people in the pavement striping industry in the USA. All were ready and primed to start striping contracts, if only the wet weather would stop. Us Irish from ‘The Land of a Thousand Welcomes’ Céad Míle Fáilte, like to think we are good at the hospitality bit, but you Americans are really good at it. I couldn’t have met more welcoming, friendly and hospitable people wherever I went. The food took a bit of getting used to, but I managed and even lost a few lbs., the 90-100 F heat helped.
We got good vibes everywhere we went and got the impression that America is booming – ‘America is Great’. I always felt from my years of research that there was a lot of value we could offer to the USA market. While we spent the last few years developing the RetroTek technology, we had established a good network and connections while meeting the pavement striping industry and DOT officials at the various ATSSA, TRB and Intertraffic trade shows. At last, we had the opportunity to meet some of them to demonstrate the fruits of our labor – the RetroTek Mobile Front Mounted Retroreflectometer Unit.
Several months back we decided to do a US roadshow to demonstrate our RetroTek MRU that measures the retroreflectivity of pavement marking. We planned to meet pavement stripers, road asset surveyors and DOT’s on our travels across several states.
We planned well, confirmed our appointments, worked out our route and then drove approx. 3,000 miles. It was all made possible because of the simple method we have designed to fit the RetroTek MRU system (all 100 lbs.+) to the front of any vehicle. Thanks to National Car Rentals, we could fit a standard front tow hitch to our SUV. After our very talented engineer, Fiachra installed the system, we were off. Traveling through Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and then onto Jackson Mississippi, New Orleans (Bourbon St- what a crazy place) and finally back to Dallas. We surveyed lots of roads and the amazing USA road networks allowed us to get in and out of cities quickly.
I won’t comment on any particular road or USA state, but the USA and the rest of the world’s road networks have a way to go before ADAS systems such as Lane Keep Assist (LKA) can operate safely, as it is well documented in research projects that good quality and visible road markings are necessary for their safe operation. On our journey, during the many downpours of rain and facing into the sunlight, the pavement marking completely disappeared. I know the suppliers to the industry have solutions with quality pavement marking materials – paint, thermoplastic, high performance tapes and beads, but they have to be applied to the pavements and then the quality and visibility maintained.
I was optimistic about the trip because I knew how this innovative technology could bring economic and safety benefits for the paving stripers, surveyors and the DOTs. The RetroTek MRU was well received, individuals went to great lengths with time flexibility to accommodate the demos and our meetings. A sincere thank you to all of you who made time in their busy schedule at this time during the ‘striping season’ to see us. We have had some great feedback and interest from companies in procuring our technology.
“I really like the idea of not having to return the RetroTek MRU to the manufacturer and losing precious surveying time whenever there is an issue. Their technicians can typically fix the problem with their online (Wi-Fi & Cell) diagnostic capabilities, otherwise, they physically come onsite to fix it. This saves me having to pack the system up and return it to the manufacturer.” – Markings Contractor, Vice President
“The RetroTek batch processing software saves me time and removes the hassle of multiple mouse clicks, cutting and pasting.” – Markings Contractor, Vice President
“After using a portable retroreflectometer for years, the RetroTek MRU keeps me safe in the vehicle and gives me all the measurements I need for edge and center lines in one pass. “ – MRU Operator
“The RetroTek’s ability to collect multiple assets pavement assets across the lane in one pass is not just very productive but also safer for our workers as surveying time cut in half.” – USA DOT – District Manager
“Like being able to view all marking surveys on the cloud-based survey menu software and share surveys of non-conforming markings with striping contractors just with a few clicks.” – USA DOT – District Manager
Based on the level of interest and a successful roadshow in Texas, we are now planning our next demonstration roadshow on the West Coast for the end of July- early Aug 2019 and then on to the East Coast.
Thank you to everyone whom we encountered on our way; you made our trip very enjoyable, interesting and fruitful. I look forward to the upcoming RetroTek demonstration roadshows with optimism and sincerely hope that our technology can continue to contribute to keep America Great and its roads safer.
CEO, RetroTek Technology
Reflective Measurement Systems Ltd.
Phone: +(469) 619-0899.