Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't Waste Time When Delivering Asphalt

By John Ball, Proprietor of Top Quality Paving
From the April/May issue of AsphaltPro Magazine

It bears repeating: we work with a perishable product. When a haul truck leaves the asphalt plant with a load for the paver, the driver of that truck needs to take the most direct and timely route to the work zone as possible. There shouldn’t be stops along the way for coffee or even tank fill-ups. The foreman on the project has calculated the day’s yield based on many factors, including how long each truck will take to complete the circuit from loadout to loadout.

As I’ve outlined in AsphaltPro Magazine before, on a perfect day, it takes 3 minutes for the truck to get loaded at the plant, another 3 minutes to pick up the loadout ticket and get the tarp in place. If the work zone is 15 miles from the plant, you can figure it’ll probably take the truck 20 minutes to get from point A to point B. It should take another 20 minutes for the truck to back into position, charge the hopper in an even manner and move to the designated area for a quick clean-out. It’s 20 minutes back to the plant and 4 minutes in line to loadout.

That kind of calculation is valuable to the foreman and others on the paving crew. Truck drivers need to be educated as to why a mess-up in that schedule is detrimental to the crew’s success.

One of the problems a driver creates if he performs maintenance items or personal business during the route is getting trucks out of number order. The foreman wants to keep the trucks in sequence to keep the mat temperature consistent. Truck 4 should not bypass Trucks 2 and 3 on the way to the paving site because this sets up the crew for mix temperature and compaction variations behind the paver.

If a truck driver thinks he or she needs to stop for fuel, which would take the truck out of sequence, the foreman needs to tell him that fueling is a house-keeping item to address when the bed is empty. Fuel up before the shift or, if necessary, on the way back to the plant. A truck that takes too long getting to the site and is too far out of sequence suddenly has a load of expensive RAP to haul back to the plant.

Another idea I recommend is traveling the route before the project begins. If the foreman can assess traffic patterns and when interruptions in traffic patterns might cause asphalt delivery delays, he can adjust the route haul trucks take during peak traffic times or set up an alternate route altogether.

For instance, if the most direct route between the plant and the work zone takes drivers past a school that experiences heavy bus and carpooling traffic—not to mention children on foot—at regular times in the morning and afternoon, the foreman may suggest a different route that is less direct, but more timely and more comfortable for the community. Maybe the foreman can arrange the paving schedule so deliveries aren’t necessary during the affected hours of peak traffic. Whatever scenario you arrange, taking a pre-project drive of the delivery route will ease the foreman’s mind and set the haul truck drivers up for success.

Tracking haul trucks has become easier with all the GPS products on the marketplace today. I’ve mentioned Minds Inc. before. Navman Wireless—featured on page 38 of the April/May issue—is another company with GPS tracking software for fleets. These and other companies offer products that give owners the ability to check on truck staging and timing. When a haul truck reaches the plant, the foreman can receive a ring on his phone. He gets another ring when the truck departs. When the truck stops, the GPS lets the system know. Truck drivers get paid by the hour, so GPS tracking can help cut wasted time and money in some situations, and definitely help track the cycle of our perishable product and its best window of opportunity for perfect laydown and compaction.
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