June 28, 2024

How asphalt plant telematics systems improve site productivity and efficiency

Telematics and equipment diagnostics software and apps allow asphalt industry leaders to assess their operations’ performance without being directly on-site. 

Telematics and equipment diagnostics software and apps allow asphalt industry leaders to assess their operations’ performance without being directly on-site. 

It can be difficult for asphalt plant operators and leaders to gauge their plants' performance without being directly on site or to compare and contrast site-level metrics across their entire operational footprint. But with sophisticated asphalt telematics systems that provide far greater visibility into their operations, they don’t have to do it alone.

“Plant telematics provides the kind of business operations intelligence that leaders are craving: whether plants are producing or not, what rates they’re producing at, how a plant might be able to improve,” says Eric Baker, vice president of ASTEC Digital. These insights can help asphalt plant operators improve site productivity, boost asphalt quality control, and optimize energy use for a growing number of customers in the United States. 

ASTEC Digital offers telematics and equipment diagnostics systems for various applications, including multi-site plant management, quality control, material usage, and production totals, all of which are customizable to the operation's needs and can be accessed remotely. Our powerful PlantManager asphalt software gives leaders the 30,000-foot view of all their operations and the ability to zoom in on production and job data. With integrated desktop software, the LiveTank and LiveJob monitoring mobile apps track liquid tank farms and ticketed material output, respectively. LiveLoader keeps loader operators in the loop with real-time production information on a digital tablet in the loader's cab. ASTEC Digital also offers MixManager, TicketManager hub, and MaintenanceManager for granular, data-driven views into asphalt mix content, ticketing, and the maintenance status of the plant.

Energy monitoring

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act introduced environmental product declarations (EPDs) that require asphalt producers to evaluate and communicate their product's carbon footprint and broader environmental performance or impact. As the U.S. asphalt industry adapts to the requirements from 2021, more producers have become interested in enabling an existing module within their ASTEC asphalt telematics solutions to gain a more detailed understanding of their carbon footprint and implement energy efficiency measures. 

“We can monitor flow rates, how much electricity a plant is using, how much fuel it’s using, and give an estimated energy units per ton of material mixed,” says Caleb Wooten, manager of product development for controls at ASTEC Digital. Wooten notes that European clients have long been users of this module as the sector seeks to comply with the European Union’s energy efficiency directive. The directive targets a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030, and its most recent updates require businesses to have an energy management system in place or carry out energy audits.

Predictive maintenance on the way

ASTEC Digital is currently working on product updates to its asphalt telematics suite that would improve condition monitoring of larger assets within the plant, including motors and gearboxes, by collecting sensor data on vibration, temperature, and more. The in-progress update will allow asphalt plant operators to identify an asset needing maintenance before it fails and strategically plan downtime or order a new part in advance. Wooten says a long-term goal is to enable the company’s telematics and equipment diagnostics systems to nudge users when historical sensor and maintenance data indicates an asset is at risk of failure and proactively offer to ship a replacement part.

“We’d say, ‘Okay, the system has detected a change in your machine’s bearing health that indicates impending failure, would you like us to go ahead and ship you a replacement bearing for that?’” Wooten says. "The long-term goal is to close the entire loop from the identification stage of, ‘I know I have a problem’ to ‘let’s do something about it and be proactive, we’ll get you the part there, and it’s ready for you to install when you need it.’”

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