October 8-11, Scott Reeve and Steve Shannon attended the triennial American Public Transportation Association (APTA) EXPO. The event was great for anyone interested in learning about public transportation. From rubber seals to rail cars ready for delivery, any and everything associated with mass transit trains and buses was on display. The giant locomotive engines and the working bus wash stations set up at the EXPO were a surprise for new attendees like us. But why did the team trek to Atlanta to see buses and trains?
We attended the EXPO to better understand how (and where) Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) structures can benefit the transit market. Though some transportation agencies have implemented FRP rail platforms, this innovative material is used at a minority of stations.
At Composite Advantage, we work hard to understand what owners and designers value in FRP, allowing us to constantly evolve to meet customer requirements. We've found that in the northern US, FRP's corrosion resistance to snow-melting chemicals gets the attention of many a project stakeholder. We've also seen that stakeholders often value lightweight, prefabricated panels just as much as corrosion resistance. The lightweight panels makeinstallation faster and easier- this is very important when construction can only occur when stations do not have train traffic. Additionally, the reduced dead load has a multiple effect for some stations inreducing the size, weight and costof the substructure.
A section of the FiberSPAN-Rail product was on display in the exhibit booth of one of our suppliers and partners,ADA Solutions(which we really appreciated). When visitors reviewed the variety of warning tactiles, they were also able to learn more about FRP platform panels.
Since pedestrian bridge decks were one of our first products, it's gratifying to find more of the decking at rail and bus stations. With transit use and ground traffic (vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian) on the rise, the “up and over” movement of people is safer and keeps the crowds flowing.
Sales Engineer Nick Slagter represented Composite Advantage at the Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference (OTEC) October 10-11. First things first, the other exhibitors were intrigued by theFRP rail platformswe displayed. During setup, fellow exhibitor Redi Rock Structures of OKI asked for more details on the platforms, as they'd never seen them before. Nick was happy to expand on the benefits of FRP panels for rail, especially the fact that they're half the weight of their concrete counterpart with the same structural properties. This, of course, surprised our fellow exhibitor, and many other exhibitors that came to see FRP rail platforms for themselves.
The conference started in earnest the next morning, as did the heavy foot traffic to our booth. Most people who stopped by were either from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), design firms or construction companies. ODOT employees seemed to know about the use of FRP in infrastructure, but tended to ask about earlier, less reliable FRP products. Nick used ourproduct sheetsand physical samples to show that today's FRP products aren't what they used to be - in a good way. Composite Advantage's products are built to last for 75-100 years with little to no maintenance. Visitors were thrilled to hear that FRP is an innovative way to take the strain off their maintenance budgets.
Many people asked me aboutthe foamin the middle of the FRP rail platform. Nick explained that the foam isn't a structural component of the FRP panel but is usedas a manufacturing aid until the part cures to the final shape. This eliminates any potential water collection locations.
Overall, OTEC was a great opportunity to explain the ins and outs of FRP and meet representatives from throughout the transportation infrastructure world. Hopefully we'll have a chance to work together in the future. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year at OTEC 2018.
We're also looking forward to the rescheduled Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX), to be held December 12-14. CAMX "connects and advances the world’s composites and advanced materials communities" via technical sessions, a poster program, networking and an impressive exhibition hall. Additionally, we're humbled that our wicket gate project is a finalist for the 2017 CAMX Combined Strength Award. The wicket gates are "the first navigational structure made of composite materials to be used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which maintains navigation on the nation’s valuable waterways."
For more information about Composite Advantage or our fall travels, contact us anytime.