Our business is relatively simple, but there are a zillion details. The aggregate quality can’t be fixed at the asphalt plant; good materials have to be delivered and then tracked. The old adage of garbage in, garbage out holds true. You want quality going in. And you want to keep track of quality all the way through the plant. Start by helping your loader operator.
The loader operator is the most important person at the asphalt plant. He determines your destiny. He’s critical to your success. Anything we can do to help him be successful helps us be successful.
Build bulkheads between piles. These are vital no matter how many piles you have. And then empower each and every employee in your yard to call operations if he or she sees a problem.
Is there a stockpile with different gradations in it? It will look wrong. Anyone who sees it will recognize it. Each person who sees a stockpile forming with a new type of aggregate in it should report the discrepancy and get it corrected before incorrect material gets into your mix design.
Keep in mind when building your stockpiles that underdrains have a tendency to get clogged with fines. If your site is flat, re-grade it. You move dirt for a living. Do it on your site. Arrange the site so you can flow water away from piles. Pave beneath the piles so you don’t lose aggregate that sinks into soft subgrade over time. You’re losing dollars that way.
As always, cover your aggregate piles. Can’t cover them all? Start with the RAS or RAP pile. Then cover the sand and fines piles. Use a pole barn if you can’t afford something large and complex.
When you build your stockpile, build a bench or shelf in it to help stop the big rocks from rolling down and segregating. Use good practices from the start—build quality in to get quality out. It’s not always the least expensive way to go, but it saves the most in the end if you’re using good QC measures and empowering all employees to watch for QC issues.
Editor’s Note: The information for this article is compiled from Dale Decker’s presentation “Aggregate Management at the Asphalt Plant” at the 2012 Asphalt Pavement Association of Indiana winter conference Dec. 14.