After completing a major highway project in Central Florida in 1999, Ajax Paving Industries decided to move the portable 1984 Cedarapids 160-tph Standard Havens Low Rider to the South Ft. Meyers area (San Carlos Park) to test the market. The plant was never shut off, according to Robert Ray, asphalt plant manager for Ajax?s Florida Division.
?It?s been a very good plant for us and we would run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days and sometime six days a week, but I found it very hard to schedule maintenance as the plant never stopped,? Ray states. ?In Florida, you just don?t shut down a plant. The weather allows us to work on projects year-round.?
During 2006, Ajax was planning to submit a joint venture bid on a major 30-mile widening and resurfacing project. When Anderson Columbia and Ajax were eventually awarded the design/build Interstate 75 project, located between Naples and Ft. Meyers, the approximately 500,000 tons of hot mix required to build the project proved to be all the impetus needed for the asphalt producer/contractor to upgrade its production capabilities.
Because of the lane closure restrictions and tonnage required to keep the I-75 project on schedule, Ray and Vince L. Hafeli, vice president of plants and manufacturing, began searching for a more substantial plant to replace the portable Standard Havens.
?We began to evaluate the type of plant we wanted to replace the Low Rider,? Ray says. ?The one thing we knew going in was that Meeker Equipment would be the manufacturer chosen for the liquid asphalt storage tanks and metering system, as well as the offload and feed system for our #5 waste oil.?
Meeker and Ajax previously designed a special 30,000-gallon AC tank for projects requiring rubber blends of up to 12 percent, and blends of up to 12 percent and also polymer modified asphalts. The tank design uses a non-fin coil heating system that can be removed for cleaning (by sliding the coil through a manhole at the bottom of the tank), and the design also incorporates a high volume circulation system to keep particles (like crumb rubber) suspended in the liquid AC to prevent settling at the bottom of the tank.
?We believe we were thorough in the process of selecting the plant manufacturer (Dillman Equipment Inc.) to tie in with our Meeker system,? Ray says.
?We started talking to them (Ajax) in November 2006, and we basically guaranteed that we could build a plant that would achieve their production needs (even with the high 15 percent moisture content they have to contend with), and we were able to gain their confidence,? says Tim Bulger, national sales manager for Dillman Equipment. ?We formed a cooperative effort with Meeker and Ajax in designing and constructing a plant that would meet the production requirements at that location.?
?In the end, an asphalt plant is just a bunch of iron and wiring. There are several companies out there that produce asphalt plants that do a fine job,? notes Hafeli. ?For me, the ultimate decision was in finding a manufacturer that had the people that meshed with the Ajax of Florida culture. Dillman and Meeker were the right fit for us as they are a ?get in the trench and work it out with you? company all the way from design to operation. They listen, analyze and work with you instead of always defending their position on knowing what you need.?