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A Flexible Solution for a Cold Impact Challenge

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Challenge:
A Canadian transportation authority needed a reliable Guardrail Marker solution that would not fail under extreme cold and snow plowing impact and effectively delineate rural roads.

 

Solution:
Leverage traffic safety and extrusion expertise to redesign and deliver a custom-engineered Guardrail Marker solution.
The S-FLEX marker features two industry-leading solutions that work together to deliver impact-resistance and withstand the cold shock challenge: a flexible, extruded urethane hinge and a highly durable substrate that matches the expansion and contraction of the reflective sheeting.

 

Innovative Thinking:
Pexco’s Davidson Traffic Control Products pioneered straight guardrail post markers in 1985. Since that time the team has maintained a steadfast dedication to leading the way in engineering traffic safety solutions that reduce maintenance costs and the chance of guardrail accidents in all weather conditions.

This dedication is just one of the reasons why Alberta Transportation selected Pexco to replace an existing straight marker. The current marker was failing to provide adequate durability and leaving portions of the roadway without adequate delineation, especially at night along unlit, rural locations. Product failures were causing increased budget costs for maintenance crews as well as creating concerns over traffic safety.

Simply put, the standard markers in place on wooden and metal posts were no match for the snow load from plowing operations, combined with frigid sub zero temperatures and wind gusts. Plows would push snow up the guard rail, causing the assembly to snap in half. Also, the extreme cold and snow load were causing “cold shock,” which means adhesives were reaching their crystalline state and when flexed the reflective sheeting would separate from the marker, rendering it ineffective.

Pexco’s Tacoma, Washington-based Traffic and Safety division design team quickly set to work and apply its proven knowledge of plastic and process extrusion to create the unique S-FLEX Guardrail Marker.

Knowing the success of the solution would be gauged on its ability to meet the impact challenge, the first and most critical addition was a unique, flexible urethane hinge called “Alligator Jaws.” This coextruded hinge was engineered to deliver a 400 percent increase in bonding area that can flex when impacted and withstand the sub zero temperatures.

The second part of the system is a highly durable substrate that would work in tandem with the hinge as well as the adhesive holding the reflective sheeting. The team engineered a new substrate that effectively matches the expansion and contraction of the high performance adhesive and deliver a reliable bond that will not shock apart or fail when impacted. When combined, the hinge and the substrate deliver a balanced blend of strength and durability to the new marker.

The end result is a unique and virtually indestructible S-Flex Guardrail Marker system that accommodates up to 16 square inches of reflective sheeting, can withstand impact that will not seize in sub zero temperatures or require additional maintenance and replacement investments.

The S-FLEX Guardrail Marker is a Pexco Traffic solution that went from specification, design and prototype testing to installation within five months. In the years since the installation along 208 miles of rural roads in Alberta, the product has exceeded expectations and there have not been any warranty maintenance claims. In fact, the new “Gator Jaw” design has fueled a family of Permanent Concrete Barrier Markers that can be installed in cold climates atop concrete barriers and guardrails.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Extensive extrusion and thermoplastic material know-how
  • Unique product design to exceed expectations

 

About Pexco:
Based in Atlanta, Georgia with several manufacturing plants across the United States and Mexico, Pexco is a North American leader in the design and fabrication of specialty plastics products. It provides standard and custom products and components to manufacturers and end-users for a broad range of market applications, including the Aerospace, Medical, Filtration, Lighting, and other Industrial sectors. Pexco offers a full range of design, engineering and fabrication services. It operates six Class 7 & Class 8 medical clean rooms. Pexco meets the requirements of ISO 9001:2008, and holds ISO 14001, ISO 13485, 21 CFR 820, OHSAS 18001, GMP, AS9100C, ITAR and other registrations and/or certifications for its manufacturing operations. Pexco is your trusted plastics advisor for specialty plastic products and solutions. For more information, visit www.pexco.com or contact 404-564-8560.

 

Innovation

Pexco engineered a unique “Gator Jaw,” a urethane hinge that remains flexible and bounces back into place following an impact.

Versatility

Loads from snow plows along rural roads are no match for Pexco’s durable S-FLEX Guardrail Marker, which can be mounted to any wooden or metal post.