By Mike Devine
As infrastructure needs grow across the United States, asphalt contractors need the best tools to meet demand head-on. Purchasing an asphalt plant is a great way to ensure a contractor is self-dependent. It’s also a big financial commitment so it’s important to carefully think through the selection.
Before deciding to purchase a plant, research market capacity and potential growth from outside sales to determine whether the potential profit merits the investment. If so, use these basic steps to choose an asphalt plant that will improve business:
- Stationary or portable: Consider whether it makes sense to purchase a stationary or portable plant. If demand from a local market looks high enough that the plant will likely sit in one place for several years or more, then a stationary plant is the best and most economical option. Portable plants typically cost more but offer suppliers the ability to easily move from job to job, allowing them to make up the difference with the ROI that comes from having more work. When looking at portable plants, consider ease-of-setup and teardown features, such as electric cabling with quick disconnects that save days or weeks compared to self-terminating cables.
- Tonnage: Match the size of the plant to output requirements. New asphalt plant owners often overbuy, only considering their highest production days. Be sure to analyze the local market to determine how much capacity will be needed daily as well as factoring in potential growth from outside sales.
- Counterflow or parallel flow: The decision of whether to go with a counterflow or parallel flow plant usually depends on the plant location and permitting requirements. Parallel systems typically cost less but can have higher emissions and may not be allowed in some areas, particularly in the United States and Canada, without add-on components, such as a blue smoke system and condenser. Counterflow plants offer the ability to use higher percentages of RAP while minimizing emissions.
- Permitting: The permitting process can take as long as two years, so it’s important to start applying as early as possible. The type of permit depends entirely on state and local requirements for the plant location. Keep in mind that portable plants are generally easier to get permits for than stationary because they are temporary.
- Manufacturer Support: The type and size of components included in the finished plant will depend on the style and capacity of the system chosen. Look for a manufacturer that offers common parts that can be found locally or that can be delivered quickly to the site to minimize downtime spent waiting for repairs.Asphalt plant manufacturers are a great resource for guidance in choosing the best system for an operation. Choose a manufacturer that will assess the situation and build a plant specific to a supplier’s needs and future growth, ensuring maximum ROI.
Mike Devine is the president of Asphalt Drum Mixers. His 17 years of industry experience help him in his role overseeing all aspects of the company. For more information, contact him at (260) 637-5729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.