As the asphalt paving season comes to an end, it’s time to start turning our attention to offseason maintenance and improvements. Proper offseason asphalt plant maintenance is crucial in preparing for a successful and busy paving season. When the workload increases, suppliers and contractors can’t afford to waste time dealing with breakdowns and machine downtime.

Performing regular maintenance and improvements during the offseason ensures that you’ve done everything possible to keep operations running as smoothly as possible. Here are a few general maintenance tips that you can work on during the offseason to increase your operation’s efficiency.

For plants that can’t stay open during the winter, it’s important to take some preventative action to protect your equipment and machinery from the winter weather. Here are some quick tricks to winter-proof your plant during the off-season:

  • Maintaining clear and unobstructed drainage in the exhaust fan bottoms is vital to prevent water buildup, allowing the exhaust system to function efficiently during low temperatures, thereby averting operational complications.
  • Coiling portable plant cables on plywood and covering them with tarps not only protects them from the elements but also ensures their readiness for use, minimizing potential downtime during colder periods.
  • Applying grease and shrink-wrap plastic to exposed metal components like air cylinder rams and motor shafts forms a protective barrier, shielding them from the adverse effects of winter weather and prolonging their lifespan.
  • Installing small weep-holes in equipment junction boxes’ bottoms is a prudent step to mitigate condensation buildup within, safeguarding the integrity and functionality of the electrical components, particularly in colder conditions.

Pain In The Ass Tasks (or things you “don’t have time for”)

There are inevitable aspects of maintenance that are deliberately neglected, for various reasons, due to the significant challenges they pose. And, sometimes, some tasks are so bothersome and annoying that you just absolutely can’t make yourself do it. They might demand an extensive amount of time, need meticulous attention, or are simply just plain annoying. Consequently, these tasks are relegated to the bottom of the priority list and deferred until the last possible moment.

Over time, this negligence can lead to unforeseen downtime during your busiest season, escalating repair expenses, and a decline in revenue. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “gutter effect,” drawing an analogy to the consequences of neglecting gutter cleaning in a household. There is no better time to complete these “gutter cleaning” tasks than during the off-season when you have the time to focus on them without as many distractions.

    Tired of your good-for-nothing asphalt remover or release agent and ready to make a switch?

    Regular Maintenance Checks

    Whether your operations are reduced or completely closed down for the winter, here are some maintenance checks you should always be conducting, year-round, but especially when you aren’t as busy.

    Prioritized Service Checks for Drum

    The asphalt plant’s drum is a critical component, needing regular checks throughout the paving season. During scheduled plant downtime, certain key service checks on the drum should be prioritized:

    1. Assess drum shell thickness for signs of wear.
    2. Perform cleaning, inspection, and tuning of the burner.
    3. Change the oil in the drive reducers.
    4. Inspect the baghouse, ensuring bags are in good condition, and verify proper functionality of the cleaning and fines-return systems.
    5. Check trunnions and bearings for wear and play, addressing any excessive wear promptly.

    Addressing wear or reduced thickness on flighting or shell components is essential, minimizing fuel consumption and extending the dryer shell’s lifespan. Specifically, attention to combustion flights can significantly enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. 

    Batcher Silo System Maintenance

    The batcher and silo systems play vital roles in preventing mix segregation and ensuring safe mix storage at an AC plant.

    Regular thickness mapping of the silo cone is essential, with readings taken across its length and circumference, depending on operational factors like filling and usage. This practice allows for monitoring wear and planning maintenance effectively.

    In case of batcher unit issues, gates are sometimes kept open to maintain workflow, impacting HMA quality. Prevent such situations by examining and addressing gate and cone thickness, inspecting pivots, and maintaining the air actuation system. Similar checks should be conducted for storage silos, focusing on structural thickness and necessary repairs or replacements.

    Combustion System Tune-Up

    Maintaining and optimizing the combustion system, comprising the main burner and hot oil heaters is crucial for efficient fuel utilization and compliance with environmental guidelines. To achieve this:

    1. Inspect and replace questionable fuel and propane lines.
    2. Check the propane bottle for leaks or damage.
    3. Assess the fuel pump, drive mechanism, belts, couplers, and seals for wear or damage.
    4. Schedule replacement of fuel filters.
    5. Verify functionality of shut-offs and inspect piping and valves from the supply tank.
    6. Examine the tank’s filling apparatus for leaks or unsafe conditions.

    The maintenance required for these burners varies based on fuel type. For fuel oil or gas, inspect and clean the fuel delivery system, pilot assembly, and burner nozzles. If using electric heat for hot oil, ensure the proper functioning of electrical connections and controllers.

    Last But Not Least: The Dryer & Mixer

    Regular maintenance of the dryer/mixer, focusing on flighting and mixer tip condition, is vital to ensure effective aggregate moisture removal and thorough HMA blending. Inspect conditioning, showering, and combustion flights for wear or damage, replacing or repairing them as necessary. Evaluate each flight and mixing tip for excessive wear, heat curling, impact bending, cracking, or absence. Mark for a replacement for any flight exhibiting these issues. Cracked tips can be welded, while worn or missing ones should be replaced. Assess mixing tip wear periodically, especially if asphalt mix blending quality is subpar. These mixing tips can be reversed for extended service life.

    Preserve And Protect Your Drag Slat With PavePro DSX

    The overall productivity of an asphalt plant is dependent on a clean and efficient drag slat. If it breaks, your plant goes down and you can lose thousands of dollars in no time. But, preventing drag slat failure and ensuring your asphalt plants’ uptime with a drag slat cleaner like PavePro Drag Slat Xtender is incredibly easy. PavePro DSX is so powerful, that it won’t only keep your drag slat clean, but it’ll decrease wear and tear, prevent build-up, and reduce your plant’s total amp usage.

    Drag slats are prone to fail when they are poorly maintained and cleaned.  

    When asphalt begins to build up and stick the drag, the chain gets stretched out and weakened. The conveyor system is pulling extra weight and, over time, pulls apart the chains. Cold chunks of asphalt can also break off from the build-up stuck to the drag and move through the conveyor system when you fire it up after letting it cool when it isn’t in use. These chunks cause an incredible amount of wear and tear on the components in the drag chain and sprockets. 

    That’s why using a drag slat cleaner like PavePro DSX is so important. PavePro Drag Slat Xtender effectively removes 100% of all asphalt, tar, oil, and grease buildup from drag slat conveyors and lubricates chains and sprockets, extending its life as it cleans. It’s designed to remove asphalt from the drag slat to reduce the life-cycle costs and maintenance resulting from build-up in the conveyor system.

    Cleans Asphalt Build Up

    PavePro DSX effectively removes 100% of asphalt and tar build-up throughout the drag slat, reducing labor costs and drag slat stress.

    Lubricates Moving Parts

    It also helps to lubricate moving parts in the drag chain and drive sprockets to decrease wear and tear and avoid repeated breakdowns and costly repairs.

    Prevents Future Build Up

    PavePro DSX provides a non-stick barrier that lasts longer than diesel after cleaning the drag slat to help prevent future asphalt from building back up and causing future failure.

    PavePro is a tool that helps improve the performance of your drag slat conveyor. It does this by removing any asphalt buildup and lubricating the moving parts. As a result, you’ll experience smoother material flow, fewer clogs, reduced conveyor jerking or stress, decreased amp usage (up to 20%), and improved conveying efficiency. By using PavePro, you can minimize maintenance-related disruptions and downtime, which can help maximize your productivity and revenue.

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