The risk of hot mix falling on loading trucks
Aside from exposure to fumes and pollutants, one of the most significant health and safety risks in an asphalt plant is hot asphalt being spilt onto trucks during the loading process.
Trucks are loaded with asphalt from massive silos 10 metres high, with 30 to 40 tonnes of asphalt inside. At the bottom of the silo is a trapdoor that you open and close to drop the 160°C mix into your truck, ready for transportation to the site.
The potential hazard occurs if a truck drives to the incorrect bin and the plant operator automatically opens another bin. Hot asphalt drops onto the driver’s truck, risking injury and causing significant damage to machinery.
Our solution: truck drive-through safety systems
Our LC404 ‘Loadout Control’ software and hardware not only manage loadout but also include truck safety features, with interlocks to prevent mix from dropping onto trucks, which also ensures compliance with safety protocols.
How does it work?
To begin the loading process, the operator selects a bin, a light flashes on the selected bin, and the driver takes position under it. Once the driver is in place, they must push a button to confirm their position. Only then is the door lock released, allowing the operator to drop asphalt into the truck. This cut-off is bulletproof: You cannot open the wrong bin at any point once selected – nor release any mix if the driver has not yet confirmed they are in position.
As well as eliminating the health and safety hazard of mix being dumped onto trucks, this helps prevent a scenario where the wrong bin is opened, dumping material onto the ground and wasting asphalt. According to design engineer Peter Taylor, “This probably happens a lot more than you would know!”
The hazardous environment presented by bitumen tanks
The process area around bitumen tanks is another hazardous environment in asphalt plants. It is cramped and awkward to access, with bitumen spillages creating the additional hazards of tripping and exposure to fumes.
Older asphalt plants often have manual valves on their tanks, meaning a worker has to enter the tank area, mount the handle on top of the valve, turn it, then go back to the control room or a remote control panel and turn on the pumps.
Our solution: automated tank controls
Our TC404 tank module is designed to control and monitor your bitumen storage and delivery. This system automates the entire process and enables valves to be switched on from within the control room, minimising employee exposure to a hazardous environment.
Here’s an image of a basic tank control system:
The TC404 tank control system gives you a complete visualisation of the status of your tanks. Immediately, you can see clearly what levels are in each tank, which tank is which, what temperature the tanks are, where bitumen is flowing, and, most importantly, whether there are any alarms or warning messages on each tank.
Automatic safety alerts if something goes wrong
The TC404 sends remote alarm notifications to operators’ phones via SMS to ensure they know there’s a problem, even if they aren’t in the tank control room.
If a tank gets too hot or too cold, or the bitumen changes levels when it shouldn’t, the system automatically alerts an operator (or several). This prevents hazardous situations from developing or escalating and helps ensure the safe running of your asphalt plant.
Automation will improve the overall safety of your plant
According to national health and safety regulations, it is the responsibility of management to eliminate health and safety risks as far as is practicable. We are here to help you do that while improving the operations and profitability of your plant.
For safety benefits and efficiency gains, contact us to find out more about installing the LC404 or TC404 at your site. We can add these systems onto any existing asphalt plant infrastructure without an expensive rebuild.