Local inventor is on the road to success
March 15, 2011
A new machine revolutionizing road repair was developed by a Park City man to help homeowner associations save money.
The Utah Department of Transportation recently nominated the machine for a national "technology of the year" award.
Parkite Rich Giles has decades of experience working on giant construction projects such as the Denver International Airport and Jordanelle Dam. In 1995 he began a consulting company and helped local real estate developments with infrastructure.
When a development had cracked roads or needed to replace a parking lot, the impact on the associations budget was catastrophic. As an expert in construction, Giles knew how to fix roads and came up with a better way of doing it.
Asphalt is essentially gravel with an oil acting as "glue." During Utah’s harsh freeze-and-thaw cycle in winter, the oil is depleted and the material cracks and comes apart.
Essentially what Giles invented was a machine to break down the material, heat it up, add more oil, and lay it back down. He named it HeatWurx. It comes in two sizes for different-sized jobs. The small version can be loaded onto a truck and used on city roads or in parking lots. The large version is about the size of a truck and can fix interstate highways.
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Regardless of the size of the job, HeatWurx does the job better and for less money, Giles said.
Traditional road crews heat the binding fluid with propane which requires a flame. Since the oil is flammable, the process is inefficient, he said. HeatWurx uses electric coils to heat the asphalt.
Whereas most potholes are "filled," HeatWurx can use the loose or cracked material already on the ground and recycle it. This reduces transportation costs for road crews.
The patches created by HeatWurx are not only less expensive to create, but last longer than traditional patches, he said.
A church parking lot needed replacing in Sandy. Tearing up and relaying the lot was going to cost about $1,057,000. Giles proposed using HeatWurx and put in a bid for $145,000.
Repairing S.R. 224 between Kearns Boulevard and Silver Springs Drive was going to cost $2,266,000. With HeatWurx, Giles was able to bid $817,185.
Don’t believe Giles? Ask UDOT. The department has granted HeatWurx a state-wide contract. Texas is now looking into doing the same.
The facilities for making the raw materials of asphalt are always near urban centers, he explained. Transportation costs to get to the damaged roads in rural Texas are expensive.
Cities and towns all over Utah are now seeking out HeatWurx, he added. Billions of dollars are spent each year fixing roads. If just a third of that could be saved, the impact on strained government budgets is a game changer, he said.
And what about the homeowner associations he started with? HeatWurx machinery is rented out through the Wheeler Machinery Company. Any entity can use the equipment.
Giles said it’s been an amazing experience seeing his ideas come to fruition. He has a few more inventions he’s working on now. Learn more about HeatWurx at http://www.heatwurx.com . Giles is founder and chairman of the board. President is Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. Legal counsel is Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem.
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