A plant in Barrie, Ont. is being renovated and, once complete, is slated to be the first and only facility to manufacture preformed thermoplastic pavement markings in Canada.
Gentem will produce the environmentally friendly road marking material, which is a sheet of plastic manufactured to precise specifications that could potentially replace road marking paint.
The plant will officially open in May.
The material can be applied in a wider range of temperatures and weather conditions, which in Canada means extending the pavement marking season for contractors, explained Kevin Guidolin, general manager of Gentem.
“It’s going to be the only one of its kind in Canada,” said Guidolin.
Preformed thermoplastic consists of decorative and regulatory pavement markings such as roadway and bike lane lines and symbols. It features laser cut inlays that can be multi-coloured and intricate with edge lines and thickness. The factory will be able to custom produce decorative markings and it will produce thermoplastic material that is melted in the field for use in both heavy paint trucks and smaller hand liners, said Guidolin. The products will be used by a wide range of pavement marking installers as well as municipalities and road maintenance companies that lay their own markings.
Installation is simpler and safer for workers and is less dependent on a workers’ skill level, which makes it more consistent, Guidolin noted.
“(With paint) we are working with a product that is a little bit messy for workers and messy to install,” said Guidolin. “It’s a liquid and it’s applied as a liquid onto the road. As a result there are mixing issues, spillage and splashing, there are application issues because the liquid is applied by hand and the lines are as good as the person can do it by hand. If we use a stencil the liquid can go underneath the stencil and the result is that you end up with lines that are not as clean as with preformed thermoplastic.
“From an esthetics perspective, preforming an intricate pattern with straight edge lines in the factory will beat forming a liquid mess on the roadway every time,” added Gary Stoymenoff, vice-president of Gentem. “The roadways, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways will just look nicer.”
Safety is another benefit. In addition to being safer for installers, it also has a better method of slip resistance, the company states.
“What that would mean for the owner is less people on the road installing stuff year after year…and less risk of someone getting hit on the road while it’s being installed,” said Guidolin, adding it lasts seven to 10 years with a single application, which means less traffic disruptions, slowdowns or closures and benefits both the installers and the owners.
“When you’re dealing with a typical pavement marker installation there are road closures and lane shifts which need to be done during the application of the lines and the drying,” explained Stoymenoff. “If you are putting paint across a stop bar at an intersection, you can’t have cars driving over the stop bar until it’s dry and you have to shift traffic around the painted surface while it dries. If you can reduce the number of times you are closing that intersection, it’s better for the owner.”
Clean up is also safer for workers, Stoymenoff stated.
“With this new method workers are safer because there is no exposure to the hazardous chemicals and the solvents that are used for clean up. It takes that completely out of the equation,” he added.
Gentem has a sister company, Upper Canada Road Services, located in Markham, Ont. which has been in business for 10 years. They specialize in applying all types of road marking materials on roadways and highways including traffic paint, cold plastic, thermoplastic and the preformed thermoplastic that the new factory will manufacture.
Preformed thermoplastic markings are not new to North America. They have been used extensively in the city of Toronto.
“We’re not bringing a new product in, we are bringing a proven product which has been used,” said Guidolin.