Kazakhstan road contractor Bereke-A, one of the largest companies in the region, is located in South Kazakhstan in the city of Shymkent, the third largest city in the country. Besides roads and highways, the company constructs airport runways and takes an active part in the maintenance of the Kazakhstan road network. The company has been in place for more than 15 years, and until recently, had been using primarily HMA (hot-mix asphalt) plants from various Chinese manufacturers.
Since Bereke-A won tenders for major jobs, such as sections of the eight-lane highway between Western Europe and Western China, as well as large regional road reconstructions, Bereke-A needed a drastic improvement in its HMA quality. Bereke-A set an ambitious goal: take the leading position in quality and reliability among the regional contractors. In 2012, the company decided to refurbish its HMA production facilities. After a long process of considering offers from the leading European and American brands and visiting their manufacturing facilities, the owner of Bereke-A, Alisher Nanatilaevich Tolybayev, decided on the most recent technological solutions that were tailored for him by the specialists of Astec, Inc., located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. The contract for a portable 7 ft x 35 ft (2.13 m x 10.67 m) Astec Double Barrel® plant designed for Bereke-A with the capacity of up to 300 TPH (270 MTPH) was signed in 2013.
Kazakhstan road contractor Bereke-A commissioned an Astec Portable Double Barrel® plant designed for increased quality and capacity.
In the 2014 season, Bereke-A staff studied the new equipment delivered by Astec, Inc. There were some reservations on the personnel side from the get-go—the equipment was expected to be too complicated and the service barely accessible. Plant staff worried that it would be a major task to learn how to operate the equipment. It turned out to be less scary; in fact, they found out that operating the Astec Double Barrel® plant is simple and largely intuitive.
The first indication of operational ease came when the towing semi-trailers arrived from the seaport of St. Petersburg, Russia. The trailers made the huge distance on their own chassis. All the equipment was set up with the help of hydraulic self-erecting options that were ordered by Bereke-A management. No cranes were used. The portable plant was assembled and positioned for operations in the first four days since commissioning started.
Astec Plant Benefits
Laboratory staff was the next to appreciate the advantages of the new acquisition. The automatic PLC contols of the Astec plant solved a number of major issues they struggled with earlier. Head of labor Akzharkyn Isabayeva noted:
"As soon as the plant was commissioned, all the headaches we experienced earlier with hot-mix instability and our older batch plants' hot aggregate pocket overflows were gone. Extensive work related to non-reliability of temperature and weight gauges were eliminated. Most of the issues related with material segregation were solved, and we had no need to worry about the bad batches' utilization."
Laboratory staff pointed out the excellent work of the plant's automatic controls. Problems with storing multiple mix designs and their variations, coupled with printing out data on the materials used, vanished all because the data had become easily accessible through Astec's PMII control system for the plant.
Bereke-A staff was impressed by the high efficiency of Astec's Whisper Jet® burner, which provided fuel savings from the start of operation. Chief technologist Abdurassyl Almatov indicated that the burner flame does not come in contact with the AC or RAP. This allows the Astec Double Barrel® to comply with the highest emission standards set by Kazakhstan for the betterment of the environment.
Abdurassyl has been most happy with the Double Barrel® drying and mixing drum. Astec's level of serviceability is evident with the wide door alongside the drum giving access to the entire mixing chamber, which is within reach while standing on the ground.
High portability is another advantage of the Astec plant. Bereke-A has been able to work at distant jobsites and move the plant within a one-week span between stopping production at one site and startup at the other.
Good Results in the Field
Bereke-A set an ambitious goal: take the leading position in quality and reliability among the regional contractors.
Despite the fact it was Bereke-A's first experience in the field, very good results were achieved while using RAP (reclaimed asphalt pavement) in its first season of operation. Up to 30 percent RAP was used in many mixes, which is a great achievement for year one by even the best world-industry standard. This made the company an industry leader in Kazakhstan.
Prior to the plant purchase, the company couldn't use the material in the HMA production. Now that Bereke-A has been using RAP, both efficiency and quality have improved in the South Kazakhstan region. Recycle-enriched HMA mixes turned out to be stiffer and less prone to both rutting and high-temperature induced deformations. New mix designs were developed with a major contribution from the Astec staff who had not limited themselves to the equipment supply. Astec staff studied locally available sources of aggregates, took samples, and tested materials in the leading laboratories in the U.S., as well as provided Bereke-A laboratory staff with software that would help them with further development of mix designs.
Bereke-A worked on projects in South Kazakhstan under harsh climate conditions that required a variety of different mix designs from coarse dense HMA for bottom pavement layers to fine-graded dense HMA for friction coarse layers.
Due to Astec's warm mix system, Bereke-A produced mix until late winter dealing with an average daily temperature of 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). Warm-mix asphalt (WMA) production has become a daily routine for Bereke-A, and the company didn't have to spend resources for acquisition of expensive additives. All new WMA designs were produced with the mechanical foaming provided by Astec's warm mix system. Mechanical foaming is the most widely used technology by plant manufacturers for WMA production. Approximately 1,000 asphalt plants around the world, or about 85 percent of the plants, are equipped for WMA production.
Partnership for Production
Cooperation between Bereke-A and Astec, Inc. has gone further than just simply supplying the HMA plant. Employees of Astec, Inc.'s official representative in Kazakhstan, OptimusVia, were invited by Astec to the U.S. to participate in its Advanced Customer Schools in January and February 2015. OptimusVia staff acquired valuable experience that will be utilized for preparation of the Bereke-A plant for the 2015 season. Director of OptimusVia, Sergey Nikolayev, received the Astec Advanced Customer Schools' certificate confirming his training on the latest developments of Astec plant operation and service.
The Astec European service team has been visiting the plant every two or three months. The team members have built a good relationship with Bereke-A personnel, calling each other on the phone and Skype as needed. The plant is equipped with a modem and software allowing remote access to the machine by Astec engineering and service staff for diagnostics and updates. Regional management of Astec keeps in close contact with Bereke-A on development of mix designs and quality, as well as sharing the latest developments in the HMA industry.
The First Season
In its first season, Bereke-A focused on personnel training, improving plant procedures, and ensuring all the processes worked smoothly. HMA was produced at the capacity of 250 TPH (226 MTPH). At the end of 2014, the company managed to produce more than 70,000 tons (63,502 tonnes) of HMA and WMA mixes. In the 2015 season, the company is planning to produce more than 300,000 tons (272,155 tonnes) of HMA and WMA mixes and reach the maximum capacity of 300 TPH (270 MTPH).
"With the acquisition of an Astec Double Barrel® plant, we have made a major step forward, coming close to the leading world standards of HMA production. Today, the scope of our production has reached one million tons (907,184 tonnes) of HMA and WMA mixes per year. At present, we've been developing other components of our production facilities, such as aggregates and mineral filler production, plus a liquid asphalt (AC) terminal. Lifting those units up to the high level indicated by the new HMA plant will allow us to reach a new level of quality, capacity, and environmental awareness for Kazakhstan," said Nurlan Abdiev, plant manager for Bereke-A.
The semi-trailers transported the plant easily from St. Petersburg to Kazakhstan and included: a Heatec 30,000 gal (113,562 l) Heli-Tank (top); a portable 8 ft x 11 ft (2.43 m x 3.35 m) four-bin cold feed system (middle); and a portable Self-Erecting Surge Bin (bottom).
Astec service manager Aris Lerodiakonu looks over operations from the control room, which features PMII-B continuous mix blending controls.
The Astec Double Barrel® plant includes a portable recycle feed system with a RAP screen reject chute.
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