Asphalt paving equipment is expensive: asphalt pavers are investment that you must maintain to keep in good shape. Not to mention neglecting regular maintenance will lead to a decrease in performance and hinder the success of your job.
“The paver is the most critical part of an asphalt paving job site,” Brodie Hutchins, VP of dealer development at Wirtgen told ConstructionPros.com. “Everything revolves around that paver. If it goes down, the plant goes down, the rollers go down, the trucks and mills go down, you have fines that can happen, etc. You need to do everything you can to make sure that paver does not break down.”
Take it from Thomas Construction Texas: “If you’re out running machines, what’s that mean? It’s time to clean them up.”
Keeping your machines and equipment in top shape is essential to a high-functioning paving business. It is also key to preventing future breakdowns later in the season. After all, the last thing you want in the middle of paving season is a paver sitting on the side of the road, not laying asphalt.
Here are our top recommendations for keeping your paver in tip-top shape:
1. Inspect Your Asphalt Paver With Daily Maintenance Checks
It’s crucial to perform daily maintenance checks each morning before operating an asphalt paver. An asphalt paver is running for multiple hours every day, most days each week for weeks on end in high heat with highly abrasive material that is constantly wearing the machine down. Checking for damage or worn-out parts is key to ensuring smooth, consistent pavement. You should also check for loose fasteners, damaged components, oil leaks and missing parts each morning as well.
A comprehensive safety and maintenance checklist, like this one from Caterpillar, can help ensure you inspect and maintain every aspect of your asphalt paver. The Caterpillar guide takes you through all parts of the paver from the ground through the engine compartment to the operator station.
2. Clean Your Paver Every Day
Everyone dreams of staying young, fresh and hardworking when they start to age. Asphalt pavers are no different. Why damage and wear out your equipment when you can spend a few minutes at the end of each day cleaning up? Failing to remove all excess asphalt from your paver will result in excessive wear of vital elements of your machine’s operation and prevent you from spending more time paving. Neglecting to clean your equipment at the end of the day can also lead to an inconsistent pave or broken parts when cold asphalt chunks become loosened and end up with your new asphalt.
Using an asphalt remover and solvent like PavePro can help your crews keep your asphalt paver, tools and equipment clean and free of asphalt. PavePro is literally legal diesel. Spray it onto hardened asphalt and in just minutes it will begin to melt away without causing any harm to equipment. It works fast and it’s highly effective, allowing your crews to spend more time paving and less time cleaning. Learn more about PavePro here.
3. Off-Season Maintenance Is Important
During the slow season or off-season, it is the perfect time to complete in-depth maintenance, clean every nook and cranny of the paver, flush hydraulic systems, and inspect all moving parts. You might even need to replace parts before you can get back out and pave, so it might be helpful to complete inspections earlier in the off-season, rather than later.
4. Mind The Screed
Speaking of the off-season, make sure to pay special attention to the screed. Luckily, it’s easy to tell when your screed is out of alignment or broken. You’ll see imperfections in the mat, but you can avoid pavement imperfections in the first place. Just mind your screed during the off-season to ensure that it is in prime condition to pave. The off-season is a perfect time to measure your plate thickness, conduct an ultrasound test, and check important elements like the slide track and heating elements. You can also remove the screed cover and remove debris that might be hiding away from the past season.
In an interview with ForConstructionPros.com, Tom Travers, a sales manager at Carlson Paving, said: “you’d be shocked at what we’ve found underneath the screed cover. We’ve seen cups, bottles, cans, spray paint and more in there. These are fire hazards and could even explode if not properly removed.” Sounds like a quick end to the paving season that can easily be avoided by simply minding the screed.
5. Preventative Care Will Keep Your Paver Running
When it comes to asphalt pavers, it’s best to follow the age-old saying, “When in doubt, change it out.” You’ll thank us later when you replace that sketchy part that might make it through the season and you don’t end up out of service for a few days… or weeks. You should also frequently change the asphalt paver’s engine oil and filter, fuel filter and separator and the hydraulic filter. Lubricating moving parts and gears should also be considered regularly to ensure that your paver is performing like it should.
Another key way to perform preventative care is the use of an asphalt release agent on the screed and paver bin to prevent asphalt from building up and hindering your paving ability. PavePro boasts an impressive release power that leaves a slick oily film on tools and equipment, preventing asphalt from re-adhering to surfaces and allowing you to keep paving without having to worry about asphalt buildups. Learn more about PavePro release agents here.
This list is in no way all-inclusive. In fact, this is just the start of properly maintaining your asphalt paver. When the success of your entire job revolves around the performance of an asphalt paver, it’s incredibly important to make sure you are maintaining your equipment properly.