Job Descriptions on the Paving Train
Every person on the paving train needs to know exactly what is–and is not–their responsibility for both a smooth job and a smooth mat. This is true whether the crew is paving a highway or a driveway.
At World of Asphalt 2019, Brian Hall presented a seminar of best practices for residential and commercial paving. Hall, a territory manager with LeeBoy, Lincolnton, North Carolina, visits up to a dozen paving jobs each week.
Here, we share some of the insight Hall presented in the first of a three-part series devoted to best paving practices for residential and commercial jobs. This article outlines the job descriptions of each member of the crew, and future articles will detail job site planning and best paving practices.
The Haul Truck Driver
The haul truck driver’s responsibilities include properly loading the haul truck at the asphalt plant, tarping the load, proceeding safely to job site staging area, lining up in front of the paver, staying centered in front of the paver, paying attention to the dump man, stopping just short of the paver, exiting quickly and proceeding to the clean-out area, Hall outlined.
Loading the truck correctly means following the proper three-dump sequence required to minimize segregation: the first drop should be in the front of the bed, the second should be in the back of the bed, and the third should be in the middle of the bed.
Afterward, the driver should tarp his or her load, which is mandated in most states. This prevents any material from blowing out on the way to the job, but the main reason to tarp the load is to keep the mix as hot as possible.
“When that material comes out of the silo, you’re looking at 290 degree material when it comes out of the silo into that truck,” Hall said. “But without a tarp, the top will be cooled off while the center is still warm by the time you reach the job site. When you dump that, it’s going to come out in chunks.” The chunks are what you wish to avoid.
The driver will then proceed safely to the job site to deliver his load to the paver. He will follow the dump man’s instructions to stop short of the paver to avoid bumping it. The driver should avoid any distractions while at the paver or he risks lifting his foot off the brake, pulling away from the paver, and dumping costly asphalt in front of the paver that must then be cleaned up.
From the moment the driver raises his bed to it being fully lowered, he will be watching for any overhead obstructions such as trees or powerlines.
“If you start breaking limbs off a 100-year-old Oak tree on a residential job, that homeowner is sure to be upset and all those limbs and leaves are getting into your mix and that will affect the quality of your mat,” Hall said.
The driver should only pull away from the paver once the dump man has told him to do so. As much asphalt as possible should be dumped into the hopper or the driver is wasting money. After the dump man flags the truck to leave, the driver will lower his bed and head to the clean-out area.
“I’ve seen it time and again that the driver pulls off and raises his bed to drop what he’s got left right in front of the paver,” Hall said. “That asphalt is now cooled off and that’s going to make the compaction process uneven across that spot.”
If the driver does clean out his bed in front of the paver, a crew member should pick up that asphalt with a skid steer before the paver drives over it.
The Dump Person
The dump man’s job is to safely direct trucks into the dump position, collect the load tickets if required, be aware of safety around the paver such as overhead obstructions and other nearby crew members, and keep the hopper at least 25 percent full of material. They are the point of communication for both the haul truck driver and the paver operator.
He or she should take care to direct the truck to the paver without it making contact with the paver. If the truck pushes the paver, even slightly, the screed will dig into the mat and cause an imperfection in the mat.
“The truck should back up while the paver moves forward,” Hall said. “The truck stops short of the paver.” This lets the paver come up to meet the truck rather than the truck bumping into the paver.
The Paver Operator
Quite simply, the paver operator safely operates the paver and lays down the asphalt. However, Hall said, on a commercial paving job, he may be responsible for a whole lot more.
“He’s responsible for the job layout, because he needs to know how the crew will go from spot to spot,” Hall said. “Notice I didn’t say he’s responsible for laying out the stringline. You don’t want that guy 300 yards down the road when the asphalt shows up. But, he does supervise the layout.”
The paver operator also controls the pace of paving to match job conditions and limit stop-and-go paving. He or she will understand the paver’s control panel; they will take care to maintain a consistent head of material. They are also the point of communication between the dump person and screed operator.
“You’ll notice everyone on the crew is talking to the person in front of him and behind him so everyone knows what’s going on,” Hall said.
The Screed Operator
“The screed operator is your money maker,” Hall said. He understands the principles of paving. He needs to understand the role of the free-floating screed, angle of attack, grade and slope. This person is responsible for setting up and heating up the screed and making adjustments–gradually and only if necessary.
The screed operator also controls the yield, or the amount of material being used in a set area. He or she will work with the paver operator to understand the job layout. And, they take care to ensure a consistent mat texture and proper joint construction.
They will also ensure the screed remains free of clutter, including shovels, paint, etc. Not only is this a tripping hazard, but you also don’t want anything to fall off the screed onto the asphalt mat.
If there are two screed operators, the person on the left will be matching what the operator on the right has done. So, if the person on the right is ¼-inch off, the person on the left will also be off, and that will impact your yield.
The Lute Person
The lute person is responsible for hand work, including sealing the joint and correcting any defects in the mat. Like a weightlifter, it’s imperative that he have proper technique. The shovel should be against his knees, feet apart, and back straight.
As he does any hand work, he takes care not to cast large aggregates across the mat. The lute person is also responsible for helping clean the paver.
The Roller Operator
Next comes the roller operator, who is responsible for compacting the mat.
“A good roller man can take a bad job and make it look good, but the opposite is also true,” Hall said. “A bad roller man can take a good job and mess it up.”
He will follow the set rolling pattern, taking care to compact from the low edge to the higher edge of each pass and to slow his rolling speed smoothly as he approaches the screed. The roller operator will monitor the temperature of the mat and of his drums. He will keep his drums hot enough and wet enough to avoid picking up any material.
If he needs to stop, he will park the roller on a diagonal on the coolest area of the mat and avoid rolling over any dirty areas to prevent tracking debris onto the mat later.