Craig Hollingsworth, General Manager at BGC Asphalt & Quarries, part of the larger BGC group of construction divisions, says this rising need to produce different asphalt products for the market propelled the Western Australia-based firm into the search for a new plant to cater to this demand.
“Clients now want different kinds of asphalt product using additives,” he says. “With our old plant in Perth, the addition of these new additives during production was cumbersome.”
Until September 2016, BGC serviced the WA market through its primary 90-tonne-per-hour drum mix plant in the Perth suburb of Hazelmere, a 60-tonne-per-hour mobile asphalt plant, as well as another plant in Port Hedland in the Pilbara.
Seeing the need to evolve its production capabilities, BGC sought a manufacturer of cost-effective and high-quality asphalt plant equipment.
Mr. Hollingsworth says BGC came across ALmix Asia in its earlier search for new asphalt plant equipment nearly six years ago. He got in contact with the company’s Singapore-based head office and was invited to tour its manufacturing facility in Kuala Lumpur.
Seeing the manufacturing process first-hand, particularly the precision and high standards employed at the South East Asian facility, gave Mr. Hollingsworth insight into the quality of the equipment ALmix Asia produces.
“I was impressed the company was always looking at new ways to update its equipment in the facility,” he says.
“We also went to see the ALmix plants already established here in Australia at Karratha and Echuca.”
Following an extensive tour of ALmix’s South-East Asian manufacturing facilities and its asphalt plants in Australia, BGC opted for a 200-tonne-per-hour ALmix ALB3500 Batch Mix asphalt plant.
ALmix was transparent with BGC throughout the manufacturing process, even allowing the company to weigh in heavily during the design process.
“We knew there would be challenges with Australian compliance and we used our own personnel to overcome those obstacles,” says Mr. Hollingsworth.
The company sent a number of its electricians to Kuala Lumpur, for instance, to work with the ALmix Asia team to ensure the plant met Australian standards before it even entered the country. This meant rework costs were averted.
The flexibility of the ALmix team also meant BGC could upgrade the original pug mill from a 2500 specification to the larger 3500 model.
Mr. Hollingsworth says many plant manufacturers can be quite guarded during the design process, but ALMix was very open to assisting BGC in developing the right plant for the company.
“They were very receptive and that’s what we enjoyed about working with these guys. They weren’t shielding it and they were happy to engage with us,” he says. “For BGC, the ALmix plants had the right mix of cost and quality.”
BGC removed the existing plant at its Hazelmere site so it could be replaced by the larger facility.
In September 2016, and after four months of construction, the new plant was operational, and it’s already proving its worth.
“This plant does 200 tonnes per hour with double the storage we used to have. It’s made it possible for us to produce a much wider range of products, including stone mastic asphalt, polymer modified binders and more,” says Mr. Hollingsworth.
The plant boasts hot mix storage capacity of 300 tonnes as well as recycling capabilities that enable BGC to maintain its stringent quality and environmental targets.
“We have the ability to supply all different kinds of asphalt products and aggregates. The guys out on the projects are also saying that the quality of the final product is a far superior mix to what we’ve produced previously and matches the best on the market.”
Operation wise, the plant has proved to be efficient and a real time-saver.
Apart from the fact it can load three trucks simultaneously, the plant has the latest software in load-out, a benefit that Mr. Hollingsworth says has had a big impact on production.
“When we load a truck, it will load automatically and put the correct tonnage on each axle set so that it optimises each load,” says Mr. Hollingsworth.
It also produces a trade docket at this loading stage, eliminating the need for the driver to obtain it after the loading process, thus saving time.
The plant utilises the latest ALmix burner technology to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, reducing its output significantly compared to its previous plant.
“It’s like going from a carburettor to an electric fuel injection engine,” states Mr. Hollingsworth.
BGC also used its new investment as an opportunity to improve its on-site laboratory facilities and invested in more specialty equipment to enhance its quality control procedures.
Not only does Mr. Hollingsworth praise the plant’s efficiency, but he says the touch-screen system and operation controls make it a breeze for his staff.
The superior production rate of BGC’s new asphalt plant also works hand-in-hand with the company’s quarry, around 55 kilometres away.
“The materials produced by our quarry give us the basis for producing high-quality asphalts. By introducing the plant we can seize the opportunity to produce an even higher quality product.”
Already, the plant is surpassing the company’s expectations and is providing material for some large road construction projects around the state.
“Right now it’s supplying a number of major projects, including the Roe Highway duplication between Tonkin Highway and Orrong Road, which requires 30,000 tonnes of asphalt,” says Mr. Hollingsworth. “We couldn’t even price this type of project using the old plant.”
Off the back of its positive experience with ALmix, BGC is building on this relationship and has already ordered an additional 150-tonne-per-hour plant and another mobile asphalt plant from the plant equipment manufacturer.
With such extensive capabilities now at its disposal, Mr. Hollingsworth says BGC is on par with many of the larger asphalt material suppliers in the Australian market.
“In the Western Australia market we probably service around 18 per cent of the market.
“With this new plant we anticipate that will increase to around 20 to 25 per cent in that area.”