If you think the Maytag repairman gets lonely, try working the territory home to Kamloops, British Columbia-based Dawson Construction, Ltd. For nearly 85 years, the Canadian construction and highway maintenance contractor has covered a market area focused on central British Columbia, ranging in size to more than 31,000 square miles.
This market is large in geographical size only. The sparsely populated region consists of about 500,000 people, averaging roughly 16 people per square mile. With only small, out-of-the-way towns like One Hundred Mile House and Burns Lake dotting the landscape, it’s a challenge for Dawson Construction to find a local source for asphalt.
“About 90 percent of the roads that fall under our highway maintenance contracts have no local asphalt supplier for the region,” says Gord Procknow, operations manager for Dawson Construction. So Dawson Construction’s crew has to take the asphalt with them.
The asphalt producer and paving contractor operates one stationary plant strategically located in the territory’s largest city, Kamloops. Since 1996, the company has traveled the region with a portable Terex PTD300, 300 ton-per-hour (TPH) asphalt plant, profitably paving projects in the 15,000- to 100,000-ton range.
But a new, 10-year highway maintenance contract covering the territories of Cache Creek to Williams Lake and Jasper to Blue River signaled a change in the size for some of Dawson Construction’s paving projects. With a number of the far-reaching destinations requiring less than 10,000 tons of asphalt, the company needed a portable plant that could be quickly and cost-effectively mobilized up to 500 miles for the small jobs.
The new maintenance contract includes 7,500-lane miles of asphalt roadways spanning central British Columbia. “We needed a portable plant to profitably cover the projects in the 2,000- to 15,000-ton range,” explains Procknow.
The counterflow plant the company was operating served them well on the larger jobs in excess of 15,000 tons. However, the plant’s multiple loads and a minimum of a three-day move meant that it was too large to cost-effectively move for the new smaller projects.
Additionally, it was not efficient utilization of the plant’s 300-plus TPH production capability. “Most of the time we cannot lay asphalt at high production tonnages,” says Procknow. “We often pave at less than 120 TPH due to traffic flow concerns.”
With a large counterflow portable plant like the PTD300, this results in nearly 200 TPH of production capacity going to waste on the low-tonnage jobs. Many of the towns within the maintenance contract territory include populations of less than 2,500 people, so this leaves little opportunity to make up the lost production capacity by selling asphalt to local paving contractors.
Procknow started looking for a new low-load, super portable asphalt plant in which the plant’s production capacity was more closely tied to the paving train’s production. Additionally, he was looking for a plant with a low cost to move and took only a day or two to complete a moving cycle.
Counterflow technology required
Complicating Procknow’s search further were British Columbia’s strict emissions regulations, which made it difficult for most super portable plant designs to be permitted in Dawson Construction’s territory. “With today’s strict emissions regulations, it’s too hard to get a parallel flow plant permitted in British Columbia,” says Mark Spicer, director of asphalt plant sales for Terex Roadbuilding’s Asphalt Plant Group.
This is especially true for a plant’s gaseous emissions. The maximum numbers for organics and carbon monoxide are 125 and 250 parts per million respectively and are the same general limits specified by the state of New Jersey, which historically have been considered among the most stringent in the United States.