It's been about a year and a half since Hawbaker's crew ran that first test on the farmer's lot. Those curious about warm mix have visited the site. After being assured there is no difference, they then place an order.
"We've now done more than a few dozen jobs with warm mix since that first job," Abbey says. "The biggest and most recent was from our DuBois plant. Over 20,000 tons of 19mm Superpave binder-leveling course was placed for the Pennsylvania DOT in Elk County. All QA/QC criteria was met for mixture and density specifications."
Hawbaker's second Ultrafoam GX system was installed in the spring of 2009 after being removed from another plant in Milroy.
"Warm mix works well, and has so many benefits," Abbey says. "I agree with others who predict that within five years, at least half of all asphalt production could be, and should be, warm mix."
Making the switch
Converting to warm mix was "about as simple as it gets," according to Abbey.
"Scott Letterman, asphalt plant manager at Hawbaker's Pleasant Gap, and his people had to cut into the asphalt supply line for the installation of the Ultrafoam GX system, but that didn't take much," Abbey says. "Other than that, it was just a mechanical adaptation to the plant; piping of the water pump and supply line; and a few programming changes to the control system."
Plant personnel worked on the switch in their spare time.
"It took no more than 10 hours total," Abbey says "We easily could have done it in a day if we just worked on it," he explains. "But we did it at the end of the day, or first thing in the morning, so we never had to shut down. It required very minimal plant alterations."
Hawbaker crews have installed two Ultrafoam systems. The process is so easy that a third plant has the right parts and pieces in place - just in case.
"If we get a contract, or demand increases to where we need more warm mix, we'll just switch it out and be ready to go," says Abbey.