Asphalt plants can consume a ton of energy through their everyday operations. With energy costs on the rise, many facilities are looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption in order to reduce costs and increase overall efficiency.
Fortunately for plant managers, there are a number of strategies that can be implemented in order to accomplish this.
Here, we’ll review a number of tips for increasing asphalt plant efficiency, both in terms of reducing energy usage and otherwise, to keep your plant functioning at maximum capacity.
9 Strategies for Improving Asphalt Plant Efficiency
While some of these tips may be more feasible than others for your specific plant to implement, all will contribute to improving your facility’s level of efficiency.
1. Perform an Audit
A good first step to take if you’re looking to improve the efficiency of your plant’s systems and processes is to invest in an audit. Audits can be really valuable, and will review systems, processes, and system components to look for any areas where efficiency could be improved.
Hiring a professional outside agency to perform the audit (with the help of your internal staff) can be really valuable, as it will give you a new and unbiased perspective about what’s going in within your facility. It can also help you to identify areas of weakness that may have otherwise been overlooked, and point you in the right direction in terms of what you can feasibly upgrade to increase efficiency.
2. Talk to Staff Members
The people working with the equipment and in the midst of the processes on a daily basis are a great resource for insider information about how things are going in your plant. They can offer first hand feedback on processes that aren’t working, communication lines that could be cleared up, systems that break down frequently, and so on.
Taking their feedback into earnest consideration could ultimately save your facility thousands. One of your most valuable resources and sources of information about increasing efficiency could be right under your nose.
3. Invest in Equipment Maintenance
Believe it or not, regular maintenance is actually a great way to increase plant efficiency. Though it may seem like consistently dedicating resources to maintenance might reduce efficiency, in the long run it can save you from equipment breakdowns, plant shutdowns and more, which can ultimately be more devastating in terms of efficiency.
Don’t have a maintenance program in place? There’s no better time than now to implement one. Find out how to develop a healthy plant maintenance culture here.
4. Invest in Regular Training for Employees
Having all hands on deck at all times may seem like the way to get work done efficiently, but the truth is that regularly setting aside time for routine training for your team members is a great way to both invest in your employees and increase efficiency.
Scheduling time for employees to engage in ongoing education, whether to review common best practices or to learn about new strategies, can help, in turn, to enhance efficiency in a few ways. Your team will be able to improve processes and identify areas for improvement on a more regular basis when provided with the knowledge and information necessary to do so. In addition to keeping your facility on the cutting edge, dedication to employee training initiatives can help to improve employee morale, which in itself can have a positive impact on the overall effectiveness of your team and the efficiency of the work they do.
5. Keep Your Facility Clean
Systems that have grime, dust, dirt, and oil buildup plaguing them can run less efficiently even if their components still seem to be in good working order. As a result, it’s important to make an effort to perform routine maintenance and cleaning on a regular basis – even if that means shutting your systems down periodically.
Your systems and equipment may be up to date, but if they’re not running clean, they’re probably not operating as efficiently as they could be – which is likely taking a toll on your asphalt plant’s overall efficiency.
6. Invest in New Equipment to Decrease Energy Consumption
Try to keep a finger on the pulse of your systems and processes and determine where excess energy is being consumed and where energy use can be reduced, if possible. An audit can be helpful with this.
It may also be well worth it to actively seek out system components or an entirely new system that offers higher efficiency and more longevity. Outdated systems tend to operate less efficiently.
While adapting to alternative forms of energy or investing in systems that operate more efficiently may be costly up front, it can save you thousands in the long term.
Ensuring that your facility and its equipment is properly insulated is key, especially for asphalt plants where the process of drying materials tends to drive efficiency down and energy costs up. You’ll want to be sure you’re capitalizing on the heat and energy that your systems are producing.
If you haven’t reviewed the state of your facility’s insulation in a while and you’re concerned about increasing energy costs, this may be a good place to start.
8. Make Safety a Priority
Keeping your employees safe and your equipment in good working order can do wonders for increasing efficiency. It may seem obvious, but taking the time and investing the necessary resources in safety measures can keep your plant running smoothly and efficiently.
9. Schedule Strategically and Communicate Effectively
Depending on how your asphalt plant operates, you may be working with various crews on various mixes and projects at one time. Be sure that the lines of communication with each of the groups you are working with remain open so you are sure to produce the right mix on the right day.
This is something that must be focused on day in and day out, but it can go a long way when it comes to increasing productivity both in your plant and in the field where your asphalt is being used.
Strategic scheduling and effectively communicating can help to reduce wasted materials and time, and will help to keep projects on schedule while earning you a reputation as a reliable and trusted asphalt producer.
Take Your Asphalt Plant to the Next Level by Increasing Efficiency
Putting some or all of these strategies into action can make a significant impact when it comes to improving your plant’s overall efficiency.
Additionally, increasing efficiency can in turn increase profitability, so if you’re looking to improve your bottom line investing in efficiency is a great option.
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Editor’s note: This content was originally published in 2018 but has been updated as of May 2021.