HUNTERTOWN, IN — Asphalt Drum Mixers Inc. offers asphalt plant add-ons for greater customizability, uptime and efficiency. The components help with ease of operation and can alert operators to small problems before they grow and become more costly. The features include advanced controls to streamline plant operation, automatic systems to call or text operators to alert them to problems, ergonomic fuel meters and tank level indicators and other tools for ease of diagnostics and operation.
“These add-ons are a great way for producers to make their lives easier while minimizing downtime, especially when the components are customized to their operation,” said Mike Devine, Asphalt Drum Mixers president. “Because an unplanned shutdown can cost an operation hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of these components easily pay for themselves after a single prevented shutdown.”
ADM offers Human Machine Interface (HMI) controls to help simplify plant control houses. This involves replacing manual switches with a programmable logic controller (PLC)-based HMI control system, such as a monitor and mouse or touchscreen. Asphalt plants often have dozens or even hundreds of switch wires. An HMI can help reduce the number of wires to just a few paired with a communication cable. This can mean reduced downtime during maintenance.
Troubleshooting problems within the control house often requires checking switches and following wires to try to determine the problem. Replacing hundreds of wires with one can cut the time spent figuring out the issue by more than half. This allows operators to quickly fix the problem or place the parts order to reduce downtime. If the operation is paying by the hour for service, a shortened visit also saves money.
ADM’s HMI controls also open the door to more automation within the system, such as automated start-up with a single click, a task that otherwise may have required flipping several switches to complete. More information is also available visually, as any number of readouts can be programmed to display on the HMI. In addition, if the system is connected to the internet, ADM offers free remote online troubleshooting that can eliminate the need for a service visit.
ADM’s call box notifies operators of an event at the plant. The call box can be tied to most plant systems, but it is most often used to monitor asphalt tank temperature. A tank heater that fails on a cold evening and goes undiscovered until the next morning can lead to significant downtime, between repairs and waiting for the asphalt to reheat. It can also mean unhappy customers and thousands of dollars in lost production.
Custom automated alerts via text message or phone call allow operators to be in the know when they are away from the plant. Operations choose from landline or cell phone configurations, with the cell phone being more reliable in the event of a power outage.
ADM’s digitized fuel meter linked to the control house provides an easier and safer way to measure fuel consumption than having a worker stand on top of the tank and use a stick and tape measure to read fuel levels. Accurate to a fraction of a gallon, it’s also more reliable and easier to read than a sight gauge.
The benefit of being aware of an operation’s exact fuel consumption is quickly realizing whether the plant is consuming too much or too little fuel. Changes in fuel consumption can help determine if there is a problem at hand, such as needed burner maintenance, greater than normal aggregate moisture content and high pollution.
Tank level indicator
The ADM tank level indicator gives operators the ability to see fuel or asphalt tank levels from the control house. Offered in a variety of types, including pressure gauges and radar, the indicators allow plant operators to see the levels from the control room rather than walking out to the tanks. This is useful on busy days when the operator may not have time to visit the tanks. A shutdown may result if the levels sink too low without the operator noticing and ordering material in time.
Amp meter system
ADM’s amp meter system monitors amp usage to determine how hard equipment is working from one day to the next. The information is usually sent to the control house to be viewed on a monitor. The system allows operators to catch problems early by showing if a motor starts to draw more power than it did the day before. An example is a drag conveyor that regularly uses 75 to 80 amps and begins to pull 85 amps. This could mean the conveyor is having trouble moving materials, something is plugged or paddles are worn. The early warning allows operators to fix or replace parts early before something large breaks and the plant is forced to shut down for a fix.