Top Tips for a Clean Asphalt Mat
BY John Ball
Getting a clean asphalt mat behind the paver is more likely to happen when the screed is in good repair. Let’s take a look at this screed in particular for some good ideas to help your crew achieve a better mat.
As you can see by the 5-gallon bucket of release agent on the deck, this is not a wide screed. It is typically used for smaller paving projects such as a parking lot or residential property. Just because these are “smaller” than a highway project, they are no less important when it comes to making a good name for the asphalt business.
Pay attention to the cleanliness of the screed overall. The underside of the screed plate must be smooth and clean, of course, but look at the grate of the screed deck here. Globs of cooled material have gotten stuck in the grate and now threaten the quality of future mats. When workers step onto the deck or drop tools or buckets onto the deck, the vibration will shake this material loose. Eventually, it will represent a chunk of segregated goop denting your mat. If a laborer doesn’t pick it out of the mat and get the hole filled with fresh mix, your roller operator will never get compaction in that spot.
Another area the crew needs to watch on any size of screed is the hinges. Notice the hinge on the right-hand side of this picture is loose. It has come unwelded from the frame. This happens when the paver is loaded first onto the lowboy with the screed deck chained in place at a 75-degree angle and the roller bumps up against it. If you bring equipment in too tightly on the lowboy, you damage the equipment. It’s a good idea to give equipment some room when loading to go between jobsites to avoid damage.
One more thing to notice on this machine is the segregation across the mat. You’ll see a nice, tight mat on either side of the screed, but an area of loosely compacted material in the center. This is a sign that the augers might need replacement.
Keep the screed in good repair by protecting it during loading and transport, and then keep it cleaned up before and after each paving shift. These simple tips help you place and protect a top quality mat.
John Ball is the proprietor of Top Quality Paving and Training, Manchester, New Hampshire. He provides personal, on-site paving consulting services around the United States and into Canada. For more information, contact him at (603) 493-1458 or firstname.lastname@example.org.