Eventually the search led to an asphalt plant manufacturer that MCL hadn't seriously considered at first, Asphalt Drum Mixers, Inc. (ADM). "We weren't familiar with their larger plants, only their smaller 110 TPH units," said Barilla. "But we toured a larger ADM plant and saw firsthand that it was heavy-duty and really well put together from a construction standpoint. The contractor also advised us that ADM was very committed to servicing the plant owner after the sale. Ultimately, they were the only ones that truly understood our requirements and could meet our specifications without any sacrifices."
MCL opted to purchase an ADM Milemaker plant, knowing it would provide a high level of production while remaining portable enough to be easily moved when needed. In July 2010, an ADM service representative arrived at the Highway 35 jobsite to assist with plant assembly. "It was great to have ADM there at the start to help us get up and running," said Barilla. "We have some veteran crew members who understand the basics of plant setup, but there were some aspects we weren't familiar with from our previous plant."
The biggest difference with the new Milemaker plant is that it features a counterflow technology system that utilizes two drums instead of one in order to maintain separate zones for drying and mixing. This setup maximizes heat transfer and fuel efficiency to virtually eliminate unsafe hydrocarbon emissions. The design then goes one step further to control emissions by reintroducing any residual gases back into the drum's combustion zone.
This counterflow system fit the mold of what Morsky was looking for, as the company had identified early on that the environmental impact of a plant would be a critical factor in its purchase decision. According to Barilla, the new plant could enable them to locate the plant within city limits if required to compete for a job. The company is also proactively moving themselves ahead of the curve in anticipation that the government will soon pass new regulations requiring more environmentally friendly plants.
"We wanted a plant that is so efficient, so environmentally friendly, that nobody could tell if it's running unless they're standing next to it and can hear it," said Barilla. "That's what we have now."
MCL has been extremely pleased with the overall performance of the Milemaker through its first couple months of operation. "There are a lot of plants out there that require constant adjustments to deliver the desired asphalt mix," said Barilla. "With the Milemaker, once we make our calibrations, all we do is enter the numbers on the computer to achieve the desired mix, and it's right on every time. The plant has been so reliable and consistent - it's surpassed our expectations."
Barilla noted that the experienced inspectors responsible for testing the mix quality on the Highway 35 project have made comments asking what the point is of them even being there. "Every single test has been coming up exactly what it's supposed to be," said Barilla. "I'm fully expecting that we'll be earning bonuses on our test results for segregation and ride."
The productivity of the Milemaker plant seems to fit right in with MCL's company philosophy of aspiring to do high quality work with first class equipment. "We take a lot of pride in having our work stand the test of time, and we feel having the latest technology is an important factor in accomplishing that," said Barilla. "Some people in our position may have settled for less when just getting back into the asphalt business, but we've held ourselves to a higher equipment standard over the years. We try to do things the right way, even if that means searching far and wide to track down the best equipment out there for our operation. That's what we've found again with our ADM plant. ADM's sales and service support have been exceptional, and it's made for a fantastic working relationship."
Looking at the big picture after the Highway 35 project, MCL expects that its workload will dictate producing 125,000 to 150,000 tons of asphalt annually, with 95-percent of the production going to its own paving crews. Barilla anticipates the Milemaker will likely be moved about three to four times a year as MCL travels to various jobsites across the expansive province of Saskatchewan. And now that the company's paving operation is back up and running with a highly portable plant, staying productive and competitive will be as easy as packing up and hitting the road.