March 05, 2024

ASTEC Digital’s asphalt software suite improves quality control results for New Hampshire drum plant

Continental Paving, a paving and heavy construction contractor, saw its best-ever quality control results after installing ASTEC Digital’s asphalt plant software.

Continental Paving, a paving and heavy construction contractor, saw its best-ever quality control results after installing ASTEC Digital’s asphalt plant software.

When Continental Paving decided to switch from its previous asphalt plant software to ASTEC Digital’s (formerly MINDs) asphalt plant automation controls, it didn’t just start small—it went all in on the full suite.

The Londonderry, New Hampshire-based paving and heavy construction contractor installed the full asphalt software suite at its Litchfield, New Hampshire operation in January 2023, including DrumTronic, PlantManager, LiveTank Monitor and BurnerControl. Continental, which has three drum plants and two batch plants across three locations in New Hampshire, plans to change its other two operations to MINDS controls progressively.

Continental uses the software to manage its asphalt mix and ingredients, four tanks, a warm mix foaming system, chemical additives, and silo storage, and also eventually added on burner control software. Mark Charbonneau, president and co-founder of Continental, said that while the company doesn’t yet use ASTEC Digital for loading out its trucks, it plans to convert to LoadOut Controls eventually.

Charbonneau said that Continental had seen significant benefits from the plant control suite in the past year. “The value that MINDS gave was the simplification of our operations and calibration functions, easy diagnostics, and reliability,” he said. 

In particular, Charbonneau highlighted the system’s superior calibration ability during mix changes. New Hampshire conducts frequent asphalt quality control testing. Charbonneau said the system’s precise control of the asphalt mix ingredients ensured Continental had its best-ever quality control results in the 2023 season. When the company was using its previous asphalt plant controls, “we would chase asphalt content of two to three-tenths on a daily basis, but we try to always be within one-tenth,” Charbonneau said. “ASTEC Digital did that time after time after time, without playing with the calibrations.” 

Charbonneau praised the controls as both extremely easy to set up and highly user-friendly. An ASTEC Digital technician came to the site, and after just seven days of set-up and re-programming the PLCs, Continental employees were able to do a half day of training on how to use the system to make a mix, “and we’ve never looked back,” he said. Over the winter, ASTEC Digital hosted another training class for Continental to share additional details about the system, but “we spent weeks with other systems to get to the point that we did—with ASTEC Digital—in a day and a half.” 

Such an easy system has made cross-training of new users a much simpler process, Charbonneau said—something that is highly important as the asphalt industry continues its digital evolution.

Continental also appreciates the multi-channel function, Charbonneau said: in the event of an installation issue with one channel, the user can simply reroute to another one and continue operating. “If you make a mistake and put a wire in the wrong place, for instance, the temperature of the asphalt plant, you can just redirect that channel and put it in the channel it’s supposed to be in, on the screen, without going out and changing the wires,” he said. “On the installation and start-up side, that gets rid of 50 percent of the misery.” 

Charbonneau, a longtime owner of ASTEC, Inc. equipment—including three 500-ton plants, Roadtec paving equipment, and mills—said he’s thrilled that the company acquired MINDS in April 2022. “The best thing ASTEC Industries ever did was to make MINDS part of their family, from an automation point of view,” he said. “It’s very simple for the end-user to operate and make good asphalt at a high rate of speed.” 


ASTEC Digital’s (formerly MINDS) asphalt plant control system, including DrumTronic, PlantManager, LiveTank Monitor, and BurnerControl.


Continental Paving’s Litchfield, New Hampshire, drum plant.


Continental was looking for asphalt plant controls that were easy for employees to use, would simplify its operations and calibration process, and improve its quality control results.


Continental installed the ASTEC Digital plant control suite of solutions in January 2023. After a short set-up window, employees only needed a half day of training to feel confident using the system. The plant control suite is much easier for employees to be trained on, easily handles mix changes, and reliably produces high-quality asphalt.


Continental had its best-ever asphalt quality control results with the state of New Hampshire thanks to the precision of the ASTEC Digital plant controls, easily achieving one-tenth asphalt content without having to play with the calibration—something its previous system was not able to do. Continental is planning to progressively switch its other two sites over to the ASTEC Digital controls, and while it still relies on another supplier for LoadOut software, it will also eventually switch to ASTEC.

Optimize your operations with intuitive, precise, intelligent asphalt plant control systems. ASTEC Digital’s telematics and plant control systems simplify and improve plant management for the asphalt industry. Visit our website to learn more.