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Increase Profits by Improving Asphalt Plant Efficiency

Wouldn’t it be nice if a manufacturer offered a service program designed to supplement an asphalt producer’s routine maintenance plan — one that proactively uncovers the problem areas, which rob plants of production capacities and profit potential— a program that looks for ways to optimize plant efficiency and reduce operating costs and that provides a detailed report with a checklist of items inspected and component conditions?

How beneficial would it be for an operation to know that it is operating with the most up-to-date plant equipment and controls? Imagine the peace of mind that comes with an industry expert inspecting the plant and offering recommendations on what is needed to maximize plant uptime.

Terex Roadbuilding, Oklahoma City has put an end to this speculation with a first-of-its-kind Plant Audit program that targets optimizing plant efficiency and maximizing uptime. The manufacturers of Terex drum mix plants, formerly branded CMI and Cedarapids/Standard Havens, started this program in February 2005, and it is steadily gaining momentum with over 30 plant inspections completed to date.

These audits are beginning to show trends in common plant issues. “We typically find that producers are spending much more than they need to on fuel,” says Burl Wilkins, plant audit specialist for Terex Roadbuilding. “We’ve been able to save companies significant sums of money just by recommending adjustments to burners and improvements to airflow at the baghouse.”
asphalt plant

Who benefits?

No matter the age, size or type of asphalt plant, the new audit program will generate a report that details ways to improve plant performance and dependability. With more than 35 years in the asphalt industry, Wilkins has performed audit inspections on plants with only two seasons in the field and those with more than 25 years of asphalt production behind them. Small operators with only one or two plants along with national producers with hundreds of plants are taking advantage of the program.

Although developed by Terex Roadbuilding, the program is not limited to the Terex brand of asphalt plant. The audit technicians have ample field expertise to inspect the technologies from other plant manufacturers. They also run the full gamut of the various types of plants in the market, from counterflow and parallel flow drum mixers to batch plants.

These audits are especially beneficial for producers with mature plant technology that cannot keep up with today’s production demands or produce complex mix designs. For example, Wilkins cites an operation using an older parallel flow plant that wanted to increase the amount of RAP in its mix designs in order to save on rising liquid AC costs. “The company’s goal was to increase the amount of RAP to 25 to 30 percent,” he says.

However, this parallel flow plant with its wet-wash scrubber system could not handle the increase. At the 20-percent mark, the plant started producing blue smoke and fell out of environmental compliance. “The audit showed that it was going to cost more than it was worth to upgrade all the components to run high RAP content,” adds Wilkins.

This audit program has also helped producers to outfit their plants with the latest technologies and make upgrades to the drum mixers to meet anticipated production goals, while still maintaining environmental compliance. A number of audits have been completed in the southern states, as producers seek to ensure their plants are operating at peek efficiency to supply the increased asphalt demand from contractors repairing the damaged roads along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.
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