Technology Update

New Ammann mobile asphalt plant has the best of both worlds

Amman's new mobile asphalt manufacturing plant - the Contimix ACM140Q - has the best of both worlds

Amman's new mobile asphalt manufacturing plant - the Contimix ACM140Q - has the best of both worlds

Paul Vandersluis, Managing Director of Ammann Australia, says Australian regional and project-related markets have been calling for a plant that has the ability to combine simplicity and reliability with the latest innovations, technology and safety, all bundled into a lower capital outlay investment.

When it comes to asphalt manufacturing plants, he says, Australia wants the best of both worlds, being low cost and advanced technology. “We want a hybrid of them both,” he says.

Ammann supplies mixing plants, machines and services for the construction industry. Its European manufactured products and technology are used worldwide.

Mr. Vandersluis says that for many years, investment in Australia’s regional asphalt manufacturing has been somewhat neglected due to the high capital cost to establish a facility, versus the limited return on investment. “If you look at Western Australia and the Northern Territory, these are the areas that have been neglected the most in regards to asphalt plant infrastructure,” he says. As a result, regional producers are generally forced to replace their plants with low-cost solutions such as mobile plants that only offer basic specifications and out-dated technology. This can potentially lead to compromise in safety systems, operating costs, plant life and mix quality.

The limitations put on regional asphalt manufacturers became a key research and development project for Ammann in 2013 when Downer Group approached the company to conduct a tour of some of Australia’s regional markets. The idea was to talk to operators and local production teams to understand their needs, including the restrictions, obstacles and bottlenecks for their operations.

Ammann visited five sites, many in Western Australia. Mr. Vandersluis notes that some of these sites had been operating for decades, with some plants dating back to the 1950s. The company identified reliability and inefficiency issues in some of the older technology.

Mr. Vandersluis says the tours resulted in first-hand knowledge from the market of what was really needed. Ammann then set out to develop an energy efficient, minimal to no waste, European-built modular plant with the latest technology, that is compliant to Australian Standards, easy to transport and with a good price tag: the best of both worlds.

Through close collaboration with Downer Group, Ammann staff and design engineers from Ammann Germany designed and developed the Contimix ACM140Q: a mobile asphalt plant that directly addressed what was needed in the market. “For a small plant, this has all the bells and whistles, with a bit more,” he says.

A big challenge lay in adapting the Australian requirements and operating conditions into the technological design. Mr. Vandersluis says the Australian landscape can be hard to cater for. It’s not as simple as introducing international methods into the design. Karratha in Western Australia, for instance, can be susceptible to cyclonic conditions with extreme wind speed – a natural occurrence that had also needed to be taken into account in the design process. He says many other manufacturers overlook these design requirements dictated by AS1170.2 in their offerings.

The mobile plant is designed for easy transport using standard Australian trucks (flatbeds and low loaders). Mr. Vandersluis says that’s a key part of the idea behind the design. It’s easily transportable and can service the whole regional market, whether that is in the middle of Alice Springs or an island in the Pacific.

The Contimix ACM140Q incorporates the latest industry technology. With all of these latest technologies incorporated into the standard design, Mr. Vandersluis says the mobile plant has the flexibility to produce hot, warm and cold mix asphalt. It also adheres to Ammann’s energy efficient, no waste and zero-harm mantras. Mr. Vandersluis says that in any Ammann design, there are three key ideals: ecology, safety and reduction. Another feature is Ammann’s as1 control system, including the latest options such as Eco-view and Auto Loadout. It’s not just about pushing a button and letting it do its jobs; the technology allows for more complex tasks such as logistical planning and continual energy monitoring. “All of these design models are there to make the customer’s plant more efficient, reliable and safe,” says Mr. Vandersluis.

Ammann’s client, Downer Group, was integral in the development of the plant. Mr. Vandersluis says that the company made it clear it wanted a focus on zero harm, reliability and safety. Australia’s infrastructure drives the market, he says, and Downer came in with a lot of input and was present throughout the design process.

Executive General Manager Roads Infrastructure of Downer Group Dante Cremasco instigated the process by approaching Ammann. Mr. Cremasco tells Roads & Civil Works Australia Magazine there is a need to bring the latest technology to the regional and project areas. This includes recycling, warm mix, toner pave and oxides, as well as reducing carbon footprints, capital investment, civil costs and transport and logistic costs. “If we can get the right design, we’d have the right market for it in Downer,” he says. Mr. Cremasco says that they started off by “cherry picking” the best technological elements Ammann already had available.

The prototype was built and erected in Germany before it was sent to Karratha. “We got the first one erected and plant number two and three are about to be shipped,” he says. The Karratha plant is now fully operational, and between 6000 and 7000 tonnes of asphalt have been produced. The next two plants will be used in Darwin, regional Victoria, and NSW.

The Contimix ACM140Q’s ease of use, practicality and focus on zero-harm make it ideal for Downer in the regional Australian markets, Mr. Cremasco says. There’s no need for concrete foundations, it’s very low cost to establish, and Downer can invest in a location at half the costs of a project using in-situ foundations, he adds.

Mr. Cremasco says that without question, the features of the ACM140Q allow Downer Group to enter the smaller regional market with confidence. It also gives Downer the flexibility to choose which projects best suits them, as well as easily relocate to another area as required. If it’s for the short-term or for a one or two-year project, teams can move in and out of areas easily without damaging the environment. “These plants have come a long way,” he says, “For us, this is our regional solution.”

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