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How to Choose the Right Asphalt Plant Operator

I've traveled the world since the early 1980s training plant operators and repairing asphalt plants. The question I hear most: "What kind of person makes a good plant operator?"

Hands-on experience important

The most important thing is to teach a prospective operator is the repair and maintenance phase. Anyone can pick-up the fundamentals of the control room in relatively short order, it's simply a matter of pressing the right buttons in the correct sequence, given a certain set of circumstances. What separates exceptional asphalt plant operators from the rest is the ability to address problems before they mushroom into a crisis that causes major downtime. To do that an operator must be intimately familiar with the machine to be operated. Familiarity only comes from hands-on experience.
asphalt plant

Learning the nuance of troubleshooting

The skill that will take the most effort to acquire is the ability to troubleshoot the plant. Most times mechanical problems are self explanatory. It's not hard to see why the dryer won't turn when the drive belts are lying on the ground under the gearbox.
To train a good plant operator requires consummate patience and a willingness to risk a certain amount of money. Very few plant operators can say that, early in their career, they didn't make mistakes which resulted in wasted time and product. This is to be expected. But the more thorough a person's primary training, the less likely it is the person will experience a catastrophic problem of their own making.
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