Northeast Updates Production with New Portable Plant

This Wisconsin asphalt producer/contractor approaches plant upgrades similar to managing other pieces in its equipment fleet - make investments that improve performance and deliver a quality product for the customer

Making a substantial investment in an asphalt plant is no different than any other piece of construction equipment, according to Eric Olson, area manager for Northeast Asphalt, Inc., an Appleton, WI-based producer/contractor that has served the needs of customers since 1979.

"We view it as an upgrade to our fleet of over 15 asphalt production facilities," says Olson, who's been with the company for over 10 years.

Northeast is a leader in producing and providing asphalt pavement service and products in approximately 30 counties in northeastern, north central and northern Wisconsin, as well as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with branch operations in Green Bay and Fond du Lac, WI, and Iron River, MI.

Northeast knows that in order to excel in the competitive environment of the asphalt industry, it must be an industry leader not only in market share, but also by leveraging the benefits of investing in state-of-the-art technology, research and innovative applications. The asphalt producer/contractor is committed to focusing on the needs of customers, taxpayers and the communities it serves.

The new portable Dillman plant complements the other four portable plants Northeast uses to address specific project needs throughout its targeted market.

"We're constantly evaluating our production needs and carefully consider what will best address our project needs and, more importantly, our customers' needs," Olson says. "Our decision to purchase a new plant last year not only addressed our ongoing investment in new technology, but also addressed our ability to best serve significant DOT (Wisconsin Department of Transportation) projects.

"With a portable plant, we look at the geographical and trucking issues that can be addressed by locating close to a project," he continues. "Trucking can and is a costly expense when building a large project, so often it just makes good economic sense to locate a plant as close as possible to the project. We upgrade and revitalize our fleet when it best serves our needs and our customers' needs."

How Northeast utilizes its portable plant capabilities is well illustrated with the new plant. When the company purchased the facility, it was set up at the Aggrecon Ltd. quarry in Kiel, WI to supply two major paving projects. In July 2009, Northeast began work on the multi-year repaving of nearby Interstate 43.

"We set this plant up 15 miles from one of our stationary plants because we wanted to dedicate its production output to the I-43 project and it also made economic sense to purchase aggregate from Aggrecon," Olson explains. "A permanent facility makes sense if it's supplying 30 to 40 jobs, and we have facilities that do that, whether they are jobs for our own paving crews or those of other paving contractors.

"But with the I-43 project, our agreement to purchase Aggrecon aggregate material as long as we're able to set up and operate on their site; and the quantity of asphalt needed to supply the I-43 project required us to dedicate plant production for that particular project," he continues. "Again, utilizing a portable plant in this case is the most cost-effective solution in meeting our customer's needs. During this past season we were producing and placing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of asphalt (produced with the new Dillman plant) daily on the I-43 project."

Plant specifics

Northeast was fortunate to marry new components with existing components when setting the plant up at the Aggrecon Kiel, WI quarry, where it is currently located to supply the I-43 project when work resumes in the spring. Olson says a 100-ton portable silo, drag slat, loadout system, liquid AC tanks, and burner fuel tank were salvaged from another Northeast plant.

Components purchased for Northeast's newest production facility include:

Virgin cold feed system

  • Five 9' x 14' cold feed bins with 30" self-contained collector conveyor
  • A 36" x 60' aggregate scale conveyor
  • A 4' x 10' deck aggregate screen

Recycle system

  • Two 9' x 14' recycle bins with 30" self-contained collector conveyor
  • A 30" x 70' recycle scale conveyor
  • A 4' x 10' single deck recycle screen

Dryer system

  • A 9' 6" x 52' 400-tph unified counterflow drum mixer, with four 60-hp drive, a 14' slinger conveyor, a remote-controlled calibration chute, a side discharge with 1" ceramic liners, entire drum insulation, and hydraulic erection package
  • WJ-100 WisperJet extended burner

Pollution control equipment

  • A 90,000-cfm four-module reverse pulse baghouse with ancillary equipment - delivering 4.64 to 1 air to cloth ratio at 90,000

Control module

  • A 12' x 36' 8" Model 12368 two-room split control module
  • A blending control system
  • A BC 4,000 burner control with 1600 Amp. MCC

Technology advantages

Making investments in state-of-the-art technology not only helps Northeast maintain a competitive edge by maintaining a reliable, productive fleet of equipment, but it also positions the producer/contractor to better meet the evolving needs of their customers.

With a new plant, for example, Northeast can address the growing demand for increased recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) in mix designs that perform as well as virgin mix designs. Government road agencies and commercial paving customers continue to explore and request quality cost-effective solutions to their asphalt paving needs.

New equipment, like the latest addition to Northeast's production facilities can address high-RAP demand, and with a minor investment can also address the emerging demand for warm mix asphalt (WMA) designs.

"We consider how a new plant will enhance our performance capabilities and deliver the quality product our customers demand," Olson says. "This plant and our other portable facilities allow us to do just that. We invested in technology that we can take anywhere to provide the best solution in meeting our needs and our customers' needs.

'So, we consider this new plant as yet another upgrade in our current fleet of production facilities that will position our company as a leading asphalt production and pavement services provider."