Trends in asphalt plant automation

Automation gives plant operators the ability to constantly monitor all their values and tell if there is a problem before there is wasted mix. Asphalt Contractor reports on the latest trends.

The major developments in plant technology have more to do with the increasing number of ingredients that are now being required by both contractors and governmental agencies to make a variety of mixes and the ability of the plants to blend all the ingredients in a consistent homogeneous manner to make a good asphalt product.

If a control signal is sent to a material feeder that is not functioning correctly, the contractor can unwittingly make a large quantity of mix without blending the right ingredients. With closed loop control, the feeder is monitored to make sure the conveyor is turning at the proper speed and the material is flowing and, in fact, combining with the other ingredients.

Mix quality starts with a good mix design from the contractor’s lab or from the governing agency. The asphalt plant must then combine all ingredients in the correct proportion within allowable tolerances and with minimal wasted mix. A good automation system will hold the tolerance to within an average of +.10%.

In previous times, it was common to only blend two or three aggregates and one RAP with the liquid A.C. This could easily be accomplished with a basic control system or almost manually if the plant operator was well trained and adept at timing sequences. Now, there are often eight to ten or even more ingredients that must all be accurately combined at the right point to achieve the proper mixture, making manual or simplistic controls obsolete.

A conscious decision to use industrial grade computers for the central user-interface is yet another step in meeting the overall objective of automation. In addition to meeting rigorous technical specifications, the advantages of using these machines lie in their production stability and long-term availability.

Astecs’s V-Pack Stack Temperature Control System extends the range of mixes that can be produced without requiring that the flights be adjusted. The system’s ‘V-flights,’ unique drum flights with a deep V-shape, and its use of variable frequency drives (VFDs), which provide control of the drum rotational speed, are keys to the control system managing an asphalt plant’s exhaust gas temperature and increasing overall efficiency

Automation gives plant operators the ability to constantly monitor all their values – watch the numbers move – and tell if there is a problem before there is wasted mix. Automation lets you watch targets, actuals and movement. If you see where the equipment is trying to adjust, it can help you pinpoint the problem and diagnose it. Automation helps you stay on top of the quality of your mix and minimize waste.

Automation gives plant operators the ability to constantly monitor all their values – watch the numbers move – and tell if there is a problem before there is wasted mix. Automation lets you watch targets, actuals and movement. If you see where the equipment is trying to adjust, it can help you pinpoint the problem and diagnose it. Automation helps you stay on top of the quality of your mix and minimize waste.

The asphalt industry is more competitive and complex than ever before. From the demands of a quality mix to the ever growing desire for sustainability, asphalt plants need to have every tool at their disposal to reduce costs and grow profits. With the use of new technology and plant automation, asphalt producers have more options available for them to do just that.

Source

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