Pumps and spray equipment
No matter how effective the product may be, it only works if it gets where it needs to go. Spray systems are sometimes provided by the release agent supplier, but can also be purchased at a reasonable cost, usually less that $700. Dema Engineering Company makes an adjustable system capable of 10:1 to 50:1 ratios. Wand, hose, pump, and mounting brackets sell for less than $800. The system can pay for itself in no time.
Of course, some haulers prefer the old-fashioned bug sprayer to an automated system. While these sprayers are inexpensive and will get the job done, mixing each bottle of release agent generally leads to overuse or under-performance. With the cost of automated systems coming down, it's hard to justify the trial and error methods of the past.
Fred Weber, Inc., the largest aggregate and asphalt producer in St. Louis, MO, has been using bed release products since the diesel fuel era. The company recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and, as a full-service concrete and asphalt-paving contractor, has seen lots of changes in road building techniques over the years. Tom Bindbeutel, general manager of asphalt operations for Fred Weber, remembers the transition from older technologies to modern soy-based bed release products.
"We used fuel oil like everybody else until the soap products came along," Bindbeutel says. "Our philosophy was to use the cheapest stuff we could get and then use a lot of it. Now we're looking for products with better performance and lower overall cost."
Bindbeutel recalls how Fred Weber began to test solvent products for use on Super Pave® and polymer modified mixes.
"Our first tests were simple," he explains. "We just got a five-gallon bucket of solution for the guys to dip their shovels in. When that seemed to work, we used Hudson sprayers for the beds of the dumps."
These days, Fred Weber uses an adjustable spray rack to alternate bed release spray ratios between commercial asphalt mixes and high polymer mixes. Bindbeutel installed this type of system to cut waste and improve the effectiveness of the release agent.
"Any good product can keep a bed clean, but you know you've got a superior product when you start seeing dirty beds ending up clean," he says.
When asked how important it is to Fred Weber that a particular asphalt release product meets state DOT requirements, Bindbeutel indicated that it is a primary selection criteria.
"We can't afford to take chances on our jobs. If a product isn't certified in the state we're in, we don't use it. It's that simple," he says.
The company is currently using one of the new soy hybrids developed by Ludwig and Schaeffer in its Illinois operation. The Illinois DOT is notable as one of the toughest regulatory branches in the United States and has extremely tough standards for bed release products. This new formula is among the first of its type to be approved in Illinois and, according to Bindbeutel, it's doing the job.
Asphalt release agents are becoming more effective and easier to use. Between $0.60 and $1.40 per gallon in its diluted form, there is no reason to risk the fines and lost production costs of non-compliance. Older soap formulas do a good job for light commercial asphalt mixes, while petroleum and citrus products perform well in heavier mixes in the state where they are approved. Customized spray systems and new formulations are increasing effectiveness and cutting costs, even in areas with tough DOT guidelines.
States should standardize their testing to insure uniform performance throughout the United States and manufacturers must continue to push for new formulas that deliver performance, ease of use, and cost efficiency.
Stephen Brewer, CLS, is vice president of Schaeffer Mfg. Company, 102 Barton St., St. Louis, MO, 63104, www.schaefferoil.com.