Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services LLC
Perspective of: Aamer Syed, Product Manager with Sika Corporation
I met Aamer Syed, Product Manager for concrete repair products with Sika Corporation, at the ICRI Fall Convention in Kansas City. We had a down-to-earth conversation about NTPEP (National Transportation Product Evaluation Program) and bridge preservation.
Sika has been TSP2 National Member for several years. Is bridge preservation an important area for Sika?
- Sika is definitively a national player in the bridge preservation market. We are present in all the states with technical and sales people. As far as technology goes, we operate in the repair and protection of concrete structures with a large offering that includes epoxy sealers, overlays, silicone sealants, repair mortars, and strengthening. Working with DOTs is a big part of our business, no doubt about it.
Do you have experience with the NTPEP program?
- Sika was one the first companies to have products tested by NTPEP. This goes back 10 years when we worked with the Rapid Set Concrete Patch Materials (RSCP) Technical Committee.
- Sika tested products according to three other NTPEP protocols: Concrete Admixtures (CADD), Portland Cement Concrete Joint Sealants (JS) and Polymer Concrete Overlays (PCO). I had been a member of the PCO Technical Committee.
What is your opinion of the NTPEP program?
- On the face value, I think it is the best program we can have. The idea of doing one set of tests and having it used by all the DOTs is something that manufacturers can definitively support. Manufacturers can submit a product to a large number of DOTs with one set of tests. It is a great concept!
- Is it a practical concept? I think this is where the gap lies. AASHTO needs to find a way to make the program more widely accepted, more widespread than it currently is. The level of acceptance by state DOTs is lower than I would like it to be. Acceptance level should be as high as 80% correspondingly to 40 states. In my experience, it is between 20 and 40%, 10 – 20 states. NTPEP needs to drive the program to get more recognition from state DOTs.
Do you have suggestions for NTPEP improvement?
- In some instances NTPEP testing is treated as an additional set of tests required by some state DOTs. States say to us: “You have to bring NTPEP”. Then they say: “You have to do this set of tests on top of NTPEP”. If you ask for NTPEP plus another set of test, you really ask a lot of manufacturers. It is very costly and time consuming for manufacturers to supply different sets of data for different requirements, for different DOTs.
- Once more, I cannot agree more on the concept of NTPEP. It is a fabulous idea. Increasing the acceptance level is where the work needs to be done.
NTPEP is testing program. It is a “photo” of a product. It is up to the single DOT to decide whether they like this “photo” or not. What do you think about evolving NTPEP from a testing protocol to a certification program?
- It is a great idea. NTPEP Technical Committees should be able to provide guidance to DOTs in order to help define an acceptance range for test results. Based on the wide range of climates we have in the United States, NTPEP could create tests protocols tailored to 3 to 4 climatic zones. If my products pass requirements for two climatic zones, I should get approval by all the states that are in those two zones. In other words, I may have a product that cannot be accepted in the states of the North-East, but it can be in compliance for the states of South-East or South-West that have a completely different climate.
What about the representation of manufacturers in NTPEP the Technical Committees?
- Manufacturers are already part of NTPEP Technical Committees as advisory people, but not as voting members.
- It is important to strengthen the collaboration between NTPEP and industry associations. For example, ICRI (International Concrete Repair Institute) has done a large body of work related to testing programs for concrete repair material. ACI (American Concrete Institute) has done work for polymer coatings overlay. I support NTPEP reaching out and collaborating with these and other organizations for the value of transferring knowledge.
Do you have a final recommendation?
- I go back to what I said before. The Technical Committees should make a bigger effort to promote NTPEP testing program to the DOTs. It is unrealistic to expect that a manufacturer spends $20,000 – 30,000 for a NTPEP testing protocol if it there are only a few DOTs that solely rely on that program for product approval.