And once the machine is set up, its operation is consistent, regardless of the crew or operator using it, Griffin says. "Once it's set up for the mix design, any one of our crew should be able to operate it," he says. "Trained, experienced operators will know certain tricks that will help them provide a superior laydown, but in theory, the nice thing about the machine is that once it's set up, anyone should be able to operate it."
Also promoting improvements in productivity is the availability of service from the manufacturer. "Service and support has been great," Griffin says. "I can call them today for something really 'off the wall', and within 48 hours it will either be in my hand, or we'll have a plan for what will happen next. Everything I've asked them they've knocked out sooner than I expect. To me, that's huge."
Microsurfacing is a mixture of polymer modified asphalt emulsion, mineral aggregate, mineral filler, water, and other additives, properly proportioned, mixed, and spread on a paved surface, as defined by the Foundation for Pavement Preservation. "Microsurfacing differs from slurry seal in that it can be used on high volume roadways to correct wheel path rutting and provide a skid resistant pavement surface," FP2 says.
While American Asphalt South does not perform microsurfacing, the new machines give them that opportunity in the future.
"We don't do any microsurfacing at this time," Stone says. "We now have the ability to lay microsurfacing if we choose to do so. That's just one more way the machine opens up more markets for us. But the market is limited to Caltrans in our market area. Our goal is not to do microsurfacing, but to bid the additional standard slurry seal projects out there and increase our production."
Staff + equipment = success
American Asphalt South has found that there is more to successful slurry sealing than high-performance equipment; for productivity, the equipment is no better than the staff that it is using it.
"You have to have the right people, knowing how to use the equipment, doing the best job they can without cutting corners," Griffin says. "It's the right personnel, with the right attitude of the company, going out and doing the work properly. Everybody has the opportunity to lay slurry seal properly, in the proper range of specifications. Not everybody chooses to do so. But at American Asphalt South, doing so is our No. 1 priority. We want to make sure the client is extremely happy when we're done with the project, and having the right personnel, the right equipment calibrated in advance, and right materials, leads to a quality product in the field."