Technology Update, Up front

Astec’s new mobile asphalt plant emphasises ease of use

Astec's Voyager 120 mobile asphalt plant is designed with mobility and ease of use at its core

Astec's Voyager 120 mobile asphalt plant is designed with mobility and ease of use at its coreAustralian asphalt manufacturers are often required to set up an operation in remote locations in a wide array of situations.

Mobile asphalt plants have given manufacturers increased ability to access different locations and sites. The key factor here is the mobility of a plant, and the need for an operation to be packed up and relocated very quickly.

The flexibility of these asphalt plants has given manufacturers a level of portability they never had before. Astec Australia has taken these needs to the next level, designing a plant that can not only access remote areas easily, but can be packed an unpacked by just a few workers in a 24-hour timeframe.

The concept for the Voyager 120 mobile asphalt plant was conceived a couple of years ago, and it has already found success in other markets. Roads 2000 Pty Ltd in Western Australia purchased the first Australian Voyager 120 mobile asphalt plant which arrived in the country nearly five months ago, and has been in operation since.

The plant is designed not only with an emphasis on mobility, but with a focus on ease of use too. The plant’s MPIII control system – unique to Astec designs – gives the operator ultimate control over blend calibrations, start/stop functions and readouts. It even features the ability to reliably store mix designs and system diagnostics.

The emphasis on efficiency is backed up by the fact that the plant can produce 120 tonnes of asphalt in an hour. Not only that, but the counter flow drum features Astec V-Flight technology and can be fitted with VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) Control which can slow down and speed up the mixing drum and provide a superior and heat efficient drying process. This means better heat transfer, a reduction of fuel use and increased productivity.

Nick Politis, Director of Roads 2000 Pty Ltd says that the set up time for a mobile plant is very important because project work is time dependant. Mr. Politis knows that every hour saved on a project’s duration is dollars in the bank.

“I like to prove things first and I was a little sceptical at first about the plant’s set up time so I spoke to David Smale who runs Astec here in Australia and told him so,” says Mr. Politis. “To his credit, he despatched a dedicated person to work with my guys the first time we had to pull the plant down and set it back up again. He didn’t have to do this, but that is what he did. It went extremely well and all my concerns were put to rest.”

“We have now completed our first remote project with the plant. It was a Main Roads project, which we completed on time and on budget,” he says. “Set up time for the plant was exactly what we wanted and the quality of the job was great.

“The end result was a very satisfied customer. That’s what you want out of every job.”

Mike Riddell, Operations and Engineering Manager at Astec Australia, says mobility was one of the key design features of the Voyager 120 mobile asphalt plant.

The plant’s hydraulically driven swing out drag and batcher, for instance, can be set up in just 10 minutes thanks to its lightweight but robust design. The plant’s air ride suspension makes it a comfortable ride to site, and it allows for a faster set up time by raising and lowering the mixing drum into place.

There aren’t many restrictions on where it can go. “It can handle the Australian environment no trouble at all,” says Mr. Riddell. Cooling vents, air conditioning and other systems are in place to keep the plant fully functional, even in the harsh Australian heat.

The compact and portable design is roadworthy and up-to-date with the country’s regulations. “It’s Australian Design Rules (ADR) compatible. It’s also electronically compliance to AS3000, which any importer of equipment has to be responsible for,” says Mr. Riddell. “Astec tries to get everything up to the Australian Standards before it comes to Australia.” By following this process, Astec plants can be imported and ready to work as soon as possible after they hit Australian shores.

The plant also uses warm-mix asphalt technology, which produces mix at lower temperatures with fewer emissions and provides good energy savings. The plant is also capable of producing up to 30 per cent Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP).

Astec have been known for a long time as a premier manufacturer of large plants (200TPH and above) both static and portable. In recent years Astec has added the 170MTPH Highly Portable Plant to the Astec range of plants, and now they have added the Voyager 120.

One thing that is common with all of these plants is Astec’s outstanding service and support. This obviously hit a chord with Mr. Politis. “I have been operating asphalt plants and running my own business for a long time, and I can tell you that all plants will have problems from time to time. What I can tell you about Astec is that they will deliver on what they promise, and that’s what makes the big difference for me.”

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