Of course, outsourcing is still a viable alternative. "A lot of times, you can subcontract a large mainline specialty milling contractor," says Irvine. "You can also double haul or haul mix to the jobsite and use your same trucks to collect RAP and bring it back."
Either way, proper operation of the mill becomes more critical as asphalt plants refuse to accept RAP that isn't properly sized. Screening RAP is an energy intensive process that can be minimized but not avoided.
"You can size the material properly with the mills that are out there," says Holland. "But what happens is you will see an operator who will outrun his mill. If he backs off to 90 fpm instead of 110 to 120 fpm, he can get the right sizing out of it. The quality of the millings is becoming more and more of an issue."
FDR keeps growing
Like mill and fill projects, full-depth reclamation (FDR) is well positioned to take advantage of ARRA dollars. "We have seen some FDR work that was part of that 'shovel ready' type of work," Holland reports.
FDR is also benefitting from the "green" movement. "That means looking at all processes and deciding not only how we can save money, but save resources, as well," says Tim Kowalski, manager of recycling products, Wirtgen America. "We are turning to an age where recycling is going to be the new virgin material for everything we do. After all, some of the best materials are already in the road."
FDR has been around for several years, but has remained a niche in the industry. "FDR should be mainstream," says Holland. "I really think it will grow. It will take some effort and some education."
He is not the only one who shares this vision. Mt. Carmel Stabilization Group, Mt. Carmel, IL, ranks among the largest soil stabilization contractors in North America, and it is placing an emphasis on FDR. The company averages about a million square yards of FDR work a year, approximately 5% of its current business. And it recently opened an office in Pittsburgh completely dedicated to FDR in Pennsylvania and the Northeast New England area.
Despite the current downturn, Mt. Carmel Stabilization Group hasn't missed a beat. "As a company, we are tremendously busy. Most of our work right now is soil stabilization work," says Neil Ryan, marketing manager.
The company foresees FDR continuing to grow in future. "We are in a situation now where it is time to get creative with our pavement preservation and maintenance solutions," Ryan states.
Resources such as virgin aggregate and oil will become increasingly expensive. "There are a few things that can hurt the milling process but help the stabilization equipment," Kowalski states. "One is the cost per ton of oil. Last year, we saw oil prices go into the $800+/ton range, and people were not doing the typical mill and fill. They wanted to know if there was something else out there that... would give good results at a cheaper cost. This is where pulverization and stabilization comes in."
Mt. Carmel Stabilization Group uses Portland cement to reclaim and stabilize a new base. "All of the existing asphalt is staying in place," says Ryan. "So you are reclaiming that with any aggregate sub-base and soil, building a new cement-stabilized base. Over the top of that, you need a very thin layer of either chip seal or a very thin layer of asphalt."
Because FDR doesn't take much more to design than a mill and fill project, it has also benefitted from ARRA funds. "Certainly, the states that we work in - specifically, Ohio and Indiana - have really increased the work they are actually letting and also the frequency of their lettings," says Ryan. "There is a lot of work out there that I don't think we would have seen otherwise."
States are looking for solutions to stretch their investment, as well. "Right now, everybody is looking to get creative. A lot of the things the industry has been promoting for years and years are being recognized as creative ways to save money, and they are [more] permanent solutions," Ryan asserts.
A place for both
Some contractors are seeing the need to own both milling machines and recycler/stabilizers.