Fulton Hogan has upgraded many of its asphalt plants in New Zealand to the N2P Controls Asphalt Plant Control System, working to increase reliability and allow data-driven decisions to be made.
Running an asphalt plant is a 24-hour job and across the road construction industry, asphalt plant control systems tend to be complex, requiring extensive training and manual control.
Enabling asphalt plants to run reliably and report any issues in real time at all hours of the day helps give peace of mind to asphalt plant managers.
It also offers an opportunity to fix any issues and ensure project production isn’t affected.
For 21 years, the Fulton Hogan Silverdale asphalt plant in New Zealand used a control system with manual operation which only supplied data on mixes long after its production.
In 2016, the plant upgraded its control system to technology from N2P Controls to automate its plant and enable managers to make informed decisions based on analytical data.
Fulton Hogan is now using N2P Controls’ Asphalt Plant Control System across many of its plants in New Zealand.
Silverdale Asphalt Plant Department Manager Ian McDonald says he decided to use N2P Controls’ system for its reliability and its extensive experience in the asphalt industry.
“We originally used an Italian system, but time differences and language barriers made communication difficult. N2P Controls is locally based in New Zealand and Australia which was a massive positive for us,” Mr. McDonald says.
With the installation at Silverdale, N2P Controls ran a half-day training session on the system so key staff fully understood it.
“We have had a reasonable turnover of staff in the last four to five years and once the system was in place we found it much easier to train people onto it, which has resulted in huge savings for the plant,” Mr. McDonald says.
The Silverdale asphalt plant uses the MC404 and the AC404 modules from the N2P Controls range.
The MC404 is the main component of the range. It acts as the control unit to ensure when asphalt is being made, exact material ratios are added.
The AC404 then takes the materials through the plant, mixing and drying the asphalt before taking it up to a burner and storing it in a hot bin.
“The system ensures everything gets done when it needs to get done, not when an operator decides it can be done,” Mr. McDonald says.
He says downtime has also been lessened since the introduction of the system as it identifies issues which makes troubleshooting significantly easier.
“We have seen material savings from being able to monitor and see things happening in real time. It has allowed us to make adjustments while operating the plant reasonably easily and if anything is wrong it alerts you.”
In the past Mr. McDonald says he has never had data readily available. He says being able to make educated decisions in real time with the data, which is kept on the cloud through N2P control’s cloud software system CATIE, is invaluable.
He says the most important aspect of working with technology on a 24-hour asphalt plant is having support for the system at all hours.
“With the team at N2P Controls if we ever have any small problems or we want to make adjustments to the system they have jumped on board and made it happen really quickly,” Mr. McDonald says.
“If everything is going well with the control system there are only about three buttons to push. For someone that has been in the business for 15 years I often look at the system and think it’s too easy.”