By Brian Hall
As I was on a paving jobsite today, it occurred to me – Why would anyone get into the paving business? It’s 100 degrees, 80 percent humidity and no wind. Add in 300 degree asphalt and you’ve got the makings of a heat stroke! And this was all before 9 am. Also, as you have already guessed, I didn’t even as much as look at a shovel or rake! Yep, I’m that guy.
Honestly, we all know why we are in the asphalt business. Because you are good at it and when you are good at it, you all make a good living because it’s an art and artists are in demand. But what happens when the artist’s tools are not up to par? That’s right, he becomes a starving artist. We don’t have time for such nonsense. At the end of a hot, hard August day, the last thing most crews want to do is post-job maintenance. Repairs are inevitable, but some are preventable if caught in time. A reliable paving crew cannot expect a piece of equipment to perform at a high level when it’s used hard and put straight back in the barn. This month, let’s talk about some everyday “checklist Items” that must be done.
Release Agent Cleaning
Whatever release agent you choose, use it wisely and liberally. Every crew knows to spray your machine down before the first load, but what about the last load? When the last load of hot asphalt shows up on the site, take the time to spray everything down that touches asphalt. This way, when the hot asphalt hits the coated steel, it will clean the machine much better than if you wait to chisel it off after it cools. During the post job cleanup process, its also a good idea to run the conveyors and augers while coating with your release agent. Spray your extension slides and run them in and out as well so the lubricant in the release agent will grease the moving parts so you have no surprises in the morning.
During the workday, the screed gets adjusted hundreds of times. Up, down, back and forth. If you take a few minutes at the end of the day to rest your screws as well as your tow points to ensure a flat screed for tomorrow’s job. Also, raise your screed and do a visual inspection of the extension’s relationship to the main screed. How does the wear on the trailing edge look? Some quick height adjustments may need to be made to ensure a quality job.
Walk Around Leak Inspection
The heating and cooling of asphalt equipment is tough on connections. During the cool down cleaning process, with all of the hydraulic functions working, do a visual inspection of the hydraulic, fuel and oil fittings and make any necessary repairs. There is technology available today that allows you to add leak detection dye to your hydraulic system and be able to detect leaks quickly. The worst time to be worried about a leak is when you have trucks lined up. How about your distributor truck or tack tank? Was there an air leak or an emulsion drip? Find them and most importantly, fix them.
While this is part of most crew’s morning routine, some fluids are better topped off in the evening. Fuel for instance, is better filled at the end of the day so that condensation does not form in the tank overnight. Water in the fuel is a bad mixture. All manufacturers have daily checks from grease to oil to fuel so topping off these fluids daily is certainly good maintenance. Some fluids, such as hydraulic fluids and fluids in the drive hubs are better checked cold, so make sure you check your guidelines. Whenever you decide to do these checks, a written list is imperative so that records can be properly kept.
Breaking news, right? Of course not, but it’s all about repetition no matter what. Not only expecting it to be done, but holding those responsible for these tasks accountable. Nothing is more frustrating than truckloads of asphalt showing up and a crewmember informing you that the tack tank doesn’t have fuel or that the broom brush core is too worn to begin. It happens, but hopefully on someone else’s jobsite, right?
Brian Hall is the territory manager of Mid South Region at VT LeeBoy, Inc. You can contact him at email@example.com
Article sponsored by LeeBoy and Rosco.