At E.T. Simonds Materials’ Campbell Hill, Illinois, location, the company had been operating a 1967 model Stansteel batch plant for over 30 years. Beck Simonds, president, shared why it was time for an upgrade. “The primary reason was due to the age of the existing plant, and we wanted to do more recycling.”
While the southern portion of Illinois doesn’t have an abundance of recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) or recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) stockpiled for use, Beck Simonds is watching the change Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is making in its recycle program. With specs basing the amount of recycle producers can use on asphalt binder replacement, Beck Simonds took a look at using a dual bin system where his crew can run both RAP and RAS at the same time if they want to.
The market for the Campbell Hill location is inconsistent from year to year, so the team began by looking on the used market for the plant’s replacement. In 2013, with the help of Tarmac International out of Kansas City, Missouri, they found a 1991 Astec relocatable Double Barrel™ plant in Jefferson City, Missouri. “We knew the plant needed a little work, so the project began,” Beck Simonds said.
Illinois is not one of those states where the weather is conducive to production and paving all year ’round. The E.T. Simonds team took advantage of that for the plant work.
“Due to the seasonality of the asphalt business in Illinois, there are usually three to four months during the winter in which there is excessive downtime,” Beck Simonds explained. “We took this time to use our existing staff to work on this rebuild process. In 2013, we took our own team from Illinois out to Jefferson City to dismantle the existing plant. We hauled 26 loads back to Illinois in about a three-week period. We worked on different components over the winters, during downtime. We left the old Stansteel plant up until 2015.”
In 2014, they completely rebuilt the used plant’s slat conveyor, replacing the floor, chain, sprockets, bearings, shafts and rollers. “The control house that came with the plant was smaller than what we wanted, so we found a larger house in Ohio, and completely rebuilt it,” Beck Simonds said.
In 2015, they altered the drum.
“We decided to change the plant from a double barrel to a duo-drum plant,” Beck Simonds explained. “To accomplish this, we hired Astec for engineering help in the conversion. We removed the outer shell and cut off the mixing arms, tips and paddles. We used the inner drum from the double barrel as a conventional dryer, and installed a recycle collar designed and fabricated by Astec. We purchased a new rotary mixer from Reliable Asphalt Products to complete the duo-drum.”
“E.T. Simonds and Reliable Asphalt Products have had a working relationship dating back several years,” Will Rabatin of Reliable Asphalt Products shared. “Scott Robertson, the E.T. Simonds asphalt operations manager, is extremely knowledgeable and thorough in both asphalt production as well as mechanical and electrical operation. He was able to specify the exact components needed for the upgrade to the Campbell Hill facility. The project had a very large scope and there were going to be many new additions to the plant—mechanically, electrically, as well as a new control system.
“Reliable Asphalt Products was able to provide a new RAP rotary mixing drum for the project,” Rabatin continued. “Beck Simonds and Scott Robertson are both very knowledgeable on asphalt plant industry technology and were evaluating all possible equipment solutions for the Campbell Hill project. E.T. Simonds had recently acquired a contracting company who had a facility that was converted from a batch plant to a dryer and rotary mixing drum setup. Through operating the acquired plant, Beck and Scott saw that the two-drum setup made very good mix, especially when using higher percentages of recycled materials.
“This sparked the idea of possibly converting the existing plant from Jefferson City to a dryer and rotary mixing drum setup. The mixing drum would also serve the market better than the batch plant for Simonds with increased continuous production with the capability to run higher percentages of recycled materials. Simonds was also able to add additional hot mix storage as well as upgraded electrical components and controls—both of which were significant operational upgrades over the existing batch plant.”
Beck Simonds discussed some of the other upgrades the team took on. “In 2016, we relined all the cold feed bins along with changing out all drive motors. We converted one of our RAP bins to a back weigh feed system for use with RAS and put in-line with another RAP feeder for a double RAP/RAS system.”
Robertson shared that the feeds include air cannons and vibrators for both the RAP and RAS bins. The RAS bins have steeper sides, almost vertical, to help with material flow. They use load cells to weigh the material, and now have Astec’s WM 2000 loadout system for blending and plant control. Robertson said the system offers unlimited storage of mix designs.
The new silos store up to 400 tons of completed mix. They have an extra layer of protection, too. Robertson explained that the outer shell of the silos took a bit of a beating during the move. “It was showing some pretty good fatigue.” The insulation was in good condition, but the high-profile silos had dents that didn’t really match the rest of the shiny new plant. “Everything else about the plant was looking so good that we wanted to go ahead and fix them.” After getting quotes from a few vendors, they had Quality Sheet Metal of Carbondale wrap the outside with 18-gauge aluminum for a polished, professional look.
With the change to a continuous run plant, the company needed to apply for a new permit. “It wasn’t as tough as if we were trying to set up in a new location,” Beck Simonds shared. The new plant is in close enough proximity to the batch plant that came down that they didn’t have to worry about zoning, and management handled the filing with a consultant’s help with the final paperwork.
Rabatin spoke highly of the crew’s skill. “Led by Taylor Teel, the site plant manager, the crew did a tremendous job both in site prep and plant setup. It is never easy putting a plant back together when the configuration is changed and there is new equipment added, but they did a great job. Prior to setup onsite, the crew was able to complete extensive repair work to the plant to ensure solid performance during production. The new facility looks fantastic and is laid out in a way that is both functional and efficient for the plant staff as well as truck traffic. The site is large and Simonds was able to use another part of the property to set the new plant, however the existing batch plant did have to be dismantled. Overall, it was a very good project and I would say the whole E.T. Simonds team is proud of what they accomplished.”
Beck Simonds is proud of the team. He shared, “The most rewarding part of the process for me was the fact that nearly 95 percent of this project was completed by our own employees and equipment. Seeing the hard work and dedication that they put into this project was amazing. They bought into the idea from day one, and the final product really shows. I’m excited about our new plant and the many years of service we hope to get out of it.”