Sep 26, 2022
Rewire Your Controls
Those of you who read these notes on a regular basis know I admit to re-writing and editing the living daylights out of them prior to publication. I tend to obsess. Count this treatise on sensor and wiring updates among those receiving the obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment before upload because, true to form, I felt the need to extrapolate the minor inconvenience taking place in my life onto the entire industry.
Here we go.
If you own or operate a hot-mix asphalt (HMA) plant, you’re keenly aware of the benefits of automating the control of that plant. Updating blending systems that store and measure out ingredients for multiple mix designs is a smart business practice. Setting alarms that alert you to maintenance schedules as well as potential failure of a belt, weigh pod or what have you is a good business move. I could take up this entire note spelling out the positives for your bottom line after installing or updating operating system features, fleet management software, safety cameras, silo loadout systems, and so on.
But have you stopped to think about the wiring carrying the messages and data? Have you considered the sensors that function like synapses in a brain? Maybe I’m being a touch melodramatic, but old, 1970’s wiring knotted up in a rusting controls cabinet with stuttering motors and failing amperage draw won’t safely and reliably carry the loads that today’s robust controls systems demand. And before anyone gets offended by my suggestion that something made in the 1970s is “old,” please note I was born in 1970 and too often have moments that feel a bit ancient.
Take my internet troubleshooting skills as an example for all of the above. When a person—whether she’s a magazine editor or not—has exhausted her skills for bringing a modem back online, it’s time to bring in the experts. When they suggest new equipment (ie, controls) to solve the problem, yet that equipment doesn’t solve the problem, one must look at the wiring. While the house I live in is not quite as old as I am, I’ve got some questions about the electrical infrastructure leading to the rotting pole at the corner of my property. I share this to point out: there would be no point in replacing the modem and router in the AsphaltPro Magazine editor’s home office if the internet service provider did not also replace the faulty box and wiring on the pole outside.
Are you planning an upgrade to your HMA plant controls system to enhance productivity and profits? Make sure the wiring and sensors feeding power to and from that new system are up to snuff. Make sure they can carry the load and keep you at full capacity, full production for full profit potential.