Phillips says the new plant is working out well. "We're very pleased," he says. "We know we can far exceed our old daily production rate with this new plant. So far, we have logged a rate of 1,600 tons per day — and we're looking forward to being able to hit more than 2,500 tons per day on an upcoming project. Frankly, we think that will be phenomenal productivity."
An extensive lighting system was also installed to allow P & S Paving to extend its workday to meet market demands. "We have various DOT jobs that require night work," says Phillips. "The DOT is moving more and more toward mandatory nighttime work. That's the reason why we went ahead and set up the new plant so everything is visible to us during nighttime hours."
Phillips says that during startup, there were a few minor glitches that had to be taken care of. They all wondered if Astec's service and support were going to be as good as other producers had said they were. But their questions about that subject were quickly answered.
"When the new plant was being started up, we had a few pieces or parts that didn't perform the way they should. Whenever that would happen, we'd call Astec and let them know about it. And the next morning, the part we needed was sitting here, ready to be installed. It might have been driven here all they way from Tennessee in the back of a pickup truck. Or it might have been flown in overnight."
The new plant quickly proved to be the right decision for P & S Paving.
"We think this plant gives us an edge on the competition in our market area," says Phillips. "We're more competitive as far as being able to use higher percentages of RAP. We use less burner fuel. We use less electricity; and increased storage capabilities. In today's market, whatever edge we can get is valuable.
"There are so many producers around the United States who have older asphalt plants and they are ready to upgrade or renovate their operations," he continues. "They can take a look at us and learn a lesson: Here's what somebody has done in just a few short years. We've gone from an old, rundown batch plant to a new, high-production plant."
P & S Paving produced 400,000 tons at the plant in 2004. Recent upgrades to the facility included a larger baghouse and the addition of a state-of-the-art closed-loop RAP-processing facility.
"All of this gives us a slight edge on our competition," Phillips adds. "We like to stay on the cutting edge with technology and we're convinced that approach has helped us achieve the continued growth we've experienced over the years."
Performance backed by service, training and customer support
Before buying the Astec Turbo 400 Double Barrel plant, P & S Paving Inc. considered other possibilities, but Astec's service, education and training were all big factors in the buying decision.
"The training facility they have in Chattanooga is very impressive," says Tim Phillips, company president. "I was there for one of their three-day executive seminars. It was very informative. I learned a lot of things — and we've implemented some of what I learned into our current operation.
"One of the things they stressed during the first day of the seminar was a thing they called 'processing RAP' and the cost savings you could rack up with this procedure."
Phillips was referring to a special procedure for crushing and sizing the RAP so that it will be of a constant consistency — which in turn should improve the quality of the final HMA mix.
"I was so impressed with that part of the seminar," says Phillips, "that I called back to the plant before the first day was even over, and told them to start doing it immediately. Some of the people at the seminar were shaking their heads like it wouldn't make much difference, but we're running higher percentages of RAP now, and the quality of the asphalt is far superior to what it was under our old procedure.
"That tip about processing RAP will save us a lot of money in the future," Phillips notes. "I know it will save us more than $100,000 a year, and it might even save us twice that much."