Posts tagged asphalt

Another Remarkable Year at Paratherm – Recapping 2016

It’s hard to believe that we are fast approaching the end of another year. Many exciting strides and changes contributed to the past 12 months, but the one constant you can be sure to count on is our dedication to providing the best heat transfer fluids (HTF) for each of our customers.  The Paratherm team consistently delivers solutions that are precise and true to each system. As we close out 2016 here are some important and relevant topics to review from our monthly blog.

Starting off the year in our new headquarters, we’ve realized the benefits of streamlining operations and how it has fully enhanced previous procedures. Our new lab enables us to assist customers in analysis of thermal fluids to diagnose and correct any problems that arise. Alongside our new facility followed a new website! Our new, sleek, site features a redesign but still offers the in-depth information on all of our products and services.

As leaders in engineered fluids for process heating and temperature control applications, as well as related services, we emphasize safety precautions and procedures. Blogs related to food processing highlight important issues to keep both the public and professionals safe from accidents, while fire safety is always a paramount concern and focus of National Safety Month.

Because of our large span of industry knowledge, we also kept a close eye on the needs of the construction industry. Engineered wood and asphalt are two areas of construction that rely on heating equipment and HTFs. Delving into something as big as “The Evolution of Asphalt Heating” exposes our audience to how far the industry has come.

After review, it is confirmed that 2016 was a great success here at Paratherm! As we look towards 2017, we look forward to another fruitful year of providing top-quality engineered fluids and expert support to our valued customers. We wish all of you very Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!

The Evolution of Asphalt Heating

Road. (n.) A wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface that vehicles can use.  “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

The first great roadbuilders, and engineers, were the ancient Romans, and parts of their roads survive to this day, over two millennia later. In the interim, the prepared surfaces of engineered roads have been made of mud, clay, brick, stone, and even wood block. Yet, for over a century now, by far the most common durable road surface has been the familiar black cement-and-aggregate mixture known as hot-mix asphalt. Other English-speaking parts of the world know it as bitumen, or macadam.

Ancient Roman road of Tall Aqibrin

Ancient Roman road of Tall Aqibrin

This asphalt, first mined from pitch lakes on the island of Trinidad and similar deposits around the world, was originally mixed with gravel by hand labor in large metal trays placed over direct fire. Hard, hot work. As this natural asphalt became replaced over the years with an engineered formula derived from crude petroleum, both the heating process as well as the mixing technology evolved rapidly. Early mixers were adapted from the rotating drums used for cement mixing.

The earth and its inhabitants (1894) (14579852357)

Asphalt Lake, Trinidad. 19th Cent.

  And by the 1920s or 1930s, some asphalt producers, supplying material for both roadbuilding and for other uses such as roofing and pipe-dipping, had begun to use indirect heating to improve the uniformity and consistency of the end-product, as direct heat could be difficult to control. A 1931 technical article in The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry mentions steam, diphenyl vapor, and hot oil among the heating media already in use for indirectly heating asphalt tanks.

0122 Long

Hillside Roadcut, Asphalt Paved

 The evolution continues to this day. The hot oil that those pioneers used back in the 1930s to heat asphalt tanks was a lubricating-oil base stock, designed not for heating but to protect metal surfaces and extend the life and improve operation of rotating equipment. These days, modern heat-transfer fluids are engineered specifically for high temperature service, and are derived from a variety of chemical families for rugged service, long life, and resistance to thermal and oxidative deterioration.

Asphalt Plant, 1930s

Heating Asphalt , 1930s (Img. from ind.gov)

The heating equipment itself has also evolved a long way from those simple heated trays stirred by hand with long metal hoes. In the 60s producers moved beyond hot-oil heated asphalt plants, adding surge bins and storage tanks to allow more flexibility in meeting variations in demand. Innovators continued to develop other ways to extend the workability time and distance range of the product going out of the plant hot and ready for roadbuilding. Today, information systems, and advances in integrating computer systems into testing, supply, heating, environmental controls, and logistics are adding a whole new level of sophistication to asphalt plant operations.

Paratherm—Heat Transfer Fluids and the Asphalt Industry OEMs

Paratherm works together with the asphalt construction equipment OEMs to help their customers, and ours, to keep their systems maintained, up and running, especially when it counts the most.

It’s August, and in North America, the paving season is at its apex for 2016.

Among the equipment specialists in the asphalt-paving industry is Meeker Equipment Company Inc., which manufactures components to upgrade, renovate, and retrofit existing asphalt and ready-mix plants.

I spoke earlier this month with Jeff Meeker, President of Meeker Equipment, about this year’s paving season.

“We hear from our customers that generally speaking the paving season is going very well,” Meeker said. “Certain areas see a bit of trouble, usually related to political issues. New Jersey in particular needs attention to their transportation trust fund, so there’s a slowdown there at peak season.”

“We also see a lot of paving companies reinvesting in their asphalt plants,” Meeker emphasized. “Money that had been sitting on the sidelines is now going back into rebuilding their businesses.”

I asked Jeff for his opinion about of the evolving role of indirect heating, and specifically how the heat transfer fluids can be a key to preventive maintenance in the manufacturing process.

“Well, our people have become more plugged into talking to construction companies about their hot oil in these equipment discussions, and how important it can be for their operations,” Meeker explained.

“These days, when we visit our customers, our people always carry a heat-transfer-oil test kit,” Meeker said. “The plant managers and maintenance men are increasingly realizing the value of their hot-oil equipment, its impact and importance for their asphalt plants. So we can give them a test kit right there and get them started to evaluate the condition of the system based on the oil test results.”

If you’re an asphalt processor, and you’re interested in a fluid analysis kit, you can get one when the Meeker rep stops by. Or, here at Paratherm, there’s an online form you can fill out and we’ll send you one right away. Here’s the link: Fluid Analysis Kit.

 

Note: In researching the text and reviewing images for this post, I came across a very interesting article, in PennLive, about the origins
and history of the PA Turnpike, its abandoned tunnels and planned modern renewal, and the engineering feat that took it through (not across)
Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains.  Here it is— Ghost Tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Haunting photography, too.

Construction Today Features Paratherm

Recently, our company was featured in Construction Today, the magazine aimed at the people who build North America. This feature allowed us to highlight some of the areas where we stand as segment leaders and discuss how we are constantly trying to move forward with asphalt heating technology.

Dealing With Challenges and Presenting Solutions

One way that we, at Paratherm, have demonstrated our superiority is through the solutions we have developed from our fluid analysis program. Our customers work with asphalt, which stays fluid prior to use, but when it cools it becomes the solid surfaces you find on roadways. Keeping that asphalt hot and pliable is important.

Often, customers come to us with systems where the fluid that is in use (sometimes a multi-purpose oil instead of thermal fluid engineered for high-temperature heating use) has degraded faster than expected, which can cause all sorts of problems with uneven system heating, component damage, or loss of production. Our engineers use fluid analysis to troubleshoot the systems, and help to address any problems. The engineers can help the customer to correct incipient problems and avoid full system failure, or and use a running fluid analysis history to track their fluids over time, keeping them in good condition — preventing problems before they occur.Front page of Paratherm Article, Construction Today

Developing New Products

One of the biggest dilemmas our customers face, and possibly the most crucial, is assessing and replacing heat-transfer fluid in hot-mix asphalt plants and storage tanks. Asphalt needs to be kept hot and fluid for time periods of up to a week. Timing depends upon the plant schedule and the schedule of the crews spreading the asphalt. The fluid must be able to take the high temperatures without degrading or breaking down, and still be operable for years to come.

On top of developing these new products for industrial indirect heating, and improving services for maintaining them, we also work with our customers to provide training sessions on using our heat-transfer fluids. After all, simply having the technology isn’t enough. Clients must have the necessary training and knowledge of the product. We work on-site, with equipment manufacturers as well as plant managers and maintenance personnel, to make recommendations and help our customers get the best life out of the fluid.

As a national leader in heat transfer fluids, we expect our business to continue to grow. With the investment in infrastructure and road repairs that seemingly increase year after year, Paratherm sees a big future in the market. We also continually explore other uses for our heat-transfer fluids, in other applications.

We would like to take a moment to recognize Janice Hoppe for the great article write in Construction Today. Continue reading our blog for the latest updates!

March Madness: Two Exciting Upcoming Trade Shows

One of the great things about making products that serve so many different industries and applications is that you get to meet, interact with, and learn about so many different people and companies.

This is especially true when attending industry trade shows—invaluable opportunities to not only get your product out there, but to connect with people and continue to learn more about industry trends, news, and technologies. Therefore, we’re very excited about two upcoming trade shows in March; both, we’re sure, will prove to be successful.

The first show brings us to Baltimore on March 17-19, for the World Of Asphalt 2015. Billed as “The Base of Innovation” for the asphalt industry, it’s a combination of innovation and technology, and in-depth educational opportunities. Of course, it’s also an opportunity for us to exhibit our industry-leading heat transfer fluids for asphalt tanks, mix plants, and storage silos.

These hot oils, designed for the specific needs associated with maintaining asphalt production and quality in plants and tanks, are one-of-a-kind (minimal additives and formulated to withstand temperatures over 600 degrees Fahrenheit!), and we’re very eager to display them at the World Of Asphalt.  Be sure to look for us at booth 1287!

The next trade show brings us to Orlando on March 23-27, where we’ll be connecting and reconnecting with our friends in the plastics industry. At NPE2015 , “the world’s most important plastics trade show and conference of the year,” we’ll once again have the opportunity to learn and interact, while showing attendees how our heat transfer fluids and related services can benefit them.

After all, Paratherm’s hot oils control process temperatures in molding, blowmolding, laminating, thermoforming, extrusion, and more. They solve countless problems while delivering uniformity, reliability, and the highest quality—and are non-fouling and non-toxic. In short, our hot oils for the plastics industry are formulated to make their products and processes better.  View Paratherm’s full NPE directory page at this link:  Paratherm at NPE2015.

March will bring much excitement and great opportunities for us, and we’re looking forward to getting face-to-face with old and new friends at both events. We look forward to seeing you there!