Foresight, Insight, and Oversight

CATIE Automatically Records Everything for Complete Operational Oversight in your Asphalt Plant

Imagine being able to see what is happening in your asphalt plant 24/7 – Well, you can with N2P’s cloud-based software CATIE®. We asked plant manager Ian Macdonald about the benefits that CATIE® was bringing to the Fulton Hogan Silverdale plant.

Founded in 1933, Fulton Hogan is one of New Zealand’s and Australia’s largest suppliers of infrastructure construction, roadworks, and aggregate, with many asphalt plants dotted around the two countries.

Industry veteran Ian MacDonald manages Fulton Hogan’s Silverdale and Mt Wellington plants, having worked his way up from the operating floor. Five years ago, they had N2P’s MC404 and AC404 asphalt controllers installed and have worked closely with them ever since.

CATIE®, an acronym for Cloud Access Total Information Exchange, is N2P’s smart software installed in every unit in the 404 series. CATIE® automatically records all analogue values, system events, and alarms in real time and makes them available to local users for up to three months. If you elect to activate CATIE®, you can gain access to all your data in perpetuity – particularly useful for analysing trends over a longer period – and share it remotely. And you can view the data remotely as well!

Before the 404 systems were put in place, if something went wrong, they had no information other than the operator’s account of what happened. “Now, we can go back and analyse the data to see what’s actually happening and make things more efficient,” says Ian, “whereas if you’re just running blind, you can’t.”

Automatically Record Everything for Complete Operational Oversight

As you can imagine, having this information at their fingertips enables a world of business benefits, from operational efficiency to health & safety compliance. In fact, when they first had the 404 units installed, a fire broke out at their Silverdale plant. Though they didn’t have CATIE® installed at the time, thankfully, the data was still being logged in anticipation of the rollout. The N2P team was then able to pull the data to facilitate the subsequent WorkSafe investigation.

“We knew what the problem was – we could see it – but when you’re talking to higher-up managers, they require proof, not just your word. With the data, we were able to pinpoint the cause and show them, ‘Yep, this was the issue,’ and learn from it.”

CATIE® not only shows what happened but also what you’ve done since then to prevent future recurrences. And it can help you identify the cause of equipment failures, even if no one was there to witness the event.

“For example, we had a feeder that was jumping around,” says Ian. “The night shift noticed it several times, but when we went to look during the day, it seemed to be running smoothly.” Were it not for CATIE®, Ian’s team would have been left scratching their heads. Instead, they were able to determine that a failing bearing was causing the movement at night, when temperatures are cooler, but expanded to work properly during the day.

The situation was quickly remedied. “CATIE® gave us the information to pinpoint down to the millimetre the part that was causing the problem. If that had gone on, it could have been a massive issue.”

CATIE® has also proven useful for tracking maintenance intervals, from when drums should be cleaned out to when components should be replaced – based on actual wear rather than the manufacturer’s recommendation, which always errs on the conservative side. Knowing their equipment status at all times allows Fulton Hogan to plan maintenance around production schedules and get more life out of their machinery and parts, which translates into efficiencies and cost savings.

“Whether you’re looking at the data or not, if you need it one day, it’s still there. I look through it once a week or if I’ve got an issue, but my supervisor is probably using it on an almost-daily basis.”

Better Customer Service and Better Service Delivery

One of the big reasons Fulton Hogan chose to go with N2P Controls was their outstanding support. Having worked with an Italian supplier in the past, they were happy to switch to a local firm who are always accessible and receptive to their design requests.

And of course, N2P’s industry experience has been invaluable: “[Senior design engineer] Peter has a world of knowledge in his head, which has been particularly useful. My moving up has left a gap and Peter’s been more than helpful to my guys in offering his training and advice, especially around efficiency.”

N2P products allow Fulton Hogan to serve their own customers more effectively as well, providing information that backs up what they already know. If a customer has a query about asphalt received, for example, Fulton Hogan can quickly furnish data that verifies exactly what was made, how, and when – including delivery times and temperatures.

“I can’t be there 24 hours a day, but I can now look and tell them what they’ve been doing 24 hours a day,” Ian says. “Just having that information available is priceless. There’s no doubt about it, CATIE® pays for itself. You can’t go wrong.”

Looking for 24/7 reporting and insights to improve the productivity of your asphalt plant? Contact Niki Johnstone to find out how CATIE® can help your plant today.