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An interview with Michael Lawrence, CEO of Tensar, on the launch of InterAx geogrid

News, Products | August 8, 2021 | By:

By Todd R. Berger

Photograph courtesy of Tensar International

As was announced August 9, the Alpharetta, Ga.-based geosynthetics manufacturer Tensar International launched an innovative new geogrid called Tensar InterAx. Michael Lawrence, CEO of Tensar, spoke with Geosynthetics magazine about the new geogrid. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity.

The new InterAx geogrid from Tensar International is touted as addressing an increasing demand to build infrastructure more economically, faster, and with more sustainable methods and materials. What specifically is new about the InterAx geogrid that furthers those three developing needs in the marketplace?

Tensar InterAx has had a long gestation within Tensar. We’ve been working to perfect the product for several years. So, we’re excited about getting the product out there now to our customers and introducing it more broadly. What we’re able to do with Tensar InterAx that we’ve never been able to do before is develop engineered solutions for roads and infrastructure that are even more resilient and sustainable. It’s not about just adding more aggregate or excavating more dirt or layering on a bunch more asphalt. At this point, we’re able to make a road economically effective that can last up to twice as long with a 30% less carbon footprint on a project and constructed in a shorter timeframe. 

Can you tell me more about the process Tensar used in research and development to produce the InterAx geogrid?

Sure. It’s the first of its kind on the market. We did extensive global research to determine our customers’ needs. We also invested significant time and money on researching use of new materials and manufacturing with new methods. In fact, we had twelve global teams and over 10,000 hours of development invested in this. We’ve ended up with a multilayered, coextruded product with three layers of different materials; it’s got a unique geometric structure, and it has very tall rib heights. We’ve engineered all of this to do a better job than even our best products in the past—to lock in the aggregate layers and make sure that we have a structure that’s resistant and resilient long-term with our engineered solutions.

What qualities in the InterAx geogrid helps it improve soil interaction and trafficking problems?

There are several technical aspects to this. The product that we’ve created—because of its higher aspect ratio—gives a better format to trap aggregate, which leads to a stiffer section. That’s one piece of it. But we also have multiple aperture sizes and geometric shapes that have never been seen before as well, including a central “floating hexagon,” which allows Tensar InterAx to work with multiple aggregates and granular materials. This gives more flexibility to our customers and allows them to make a better road. These shapes are made to make sure that other types of aggregate or aggregate that’s not perfect or recycled can be used for a future road. That’s really something that has not been seen. Finally, due to our innovative materials usage, Tensar InterAx has a “crush-fit” outer layer that allows the geogrid to conform to the aggregate and hold it in place, much better than the materials have in the past. All that has been engineered into the new product.

How will the InterAx geogrid be enhanced by the new app designed for the product? What is the app called?

Tensar+ is the name of the app, and we are very excited about it. We’ve been in the software business for many, many years. Tensar, as you know, is the inventor of geogrids. We invented the biaxial geogrid, then we invented TriAx and now we’ve invented InterAx. But the software is also something that we’ve been continuously developing over the years. We believe the new app is a huge leap forward, making it so much easier for our customers to design with confidence, at any time and from anywhere. When our customers use Tensar+, they can make sure they use the right product, and they maximize the solution for what they’re looking for. In some cases, they want a longer-lasting road. In some cases, they want a road that may be more cost-effective. If they want to reduce carbon footprint, we can maximize for the carbon footprint. Whatever the customer wants, Tensar+ is flexible enough to be able to help them. Some of the exciting new features allow our customers to easily compare alternatives, determine not only initial but life-cycle costs, and also have visibility into many sustainability metrics like water reduction. It’s really great!

Has the InterAx geogrid already been installed on projects? 

Yes. We’ve probably installed it in 40–50 projects already. You can see many of those projects highlighted in project profiles on our website.

Oh, lots, okay.

Well, we have been in the market with a soft launch for several months before we went to hard launch, and that was to ensure that all our Is were dotted and Ts were crossed. It’s working quite well.

What applications is the InterAx geogrid ideally suited for?

Tensar InterAx is perfectly suited for subgrade stabilization, working platforms and pavements. Even in situations where soft soils are not as big of an issue, we can help make it a better, more sustainable pavement that is more resilient to the issues that we have facing us today, whether it’s extreme heat, floods, rising sea levels or whatever it might be. We’re building a lot of infrastructure out there, and we’re engineering products like Tensar InterAx to be able to make sure that infrastructure is resilient to what’s happening and can adapt to whatever might be thrown at it. 

That was the extent of my questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We’re looking at the future of infrastructure across the world, and it can be constructed so much better. People look at it now and think, “Here’s how I’ve done it before. It’s worked.” And that’s fine. But when you have the right products and the right technology, you can make it even better, and as I said, you can make it more resilient for the communities where we work and live. If you’re worried about how long it’ll last, you can make it last much, much longer. These solutions and products are available. We’re introducing Tensar InterAx now only in the Americas. But by next year, we’ll introduce it in our European and Middle Eastern markets, and the year after that, in China and the rest of the world. We’re so excited about the potential of Tensar InterAx. It took a major, multi-year undertaking to get here, but we think that it was needed. It’s time for something new, especially with the demands for infrastructure improvements, whether it’s rebuilding crumbling infrastructure or whether it’s building new infrastructure in developing countries. All this construction needs to be done in a sustainable way that is also resilient for future generations.  

Join the InterAxion Conference August 9–12 here for a series of short presentations from industry leaders focused on innovation in construction and a look toward a more resilient future. The topic of resiliency in infrastructure is timely as the U.S. awaits an infrastructure bill that could potentially inject billions of dollars into the construction of roads, bridges and highways.

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