If you’ve enjoyed sightseeing along northwest Indiana’s highways any time in the past 80 years—from spending summer at the beaches of Lake Michigan to snacking at the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival in the fall—you owe a small bit of thanks to Walsh & Kelly, Inc. A family owned company whose services include excavation, grading, concrete, and paving, Walsh & Kelly prides itself on its familiarity with the local terrain and a reputation for quality. To build upon this successful track record, it should come as little surprise that Walsh & Kelly turned to Astec when looking to install a portable asphalt plant at its La Porte, Indiana, location.

A Winning Partnership

Of Walsh & Kelly’s five existing plants, four were designed and built by Astec—and the experience has been a rewarding one. Kevin Kelly, president and CEO of Walsh & Kelly and the 2016 chairman of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), said it best: “We have partnered with Astec over the years because of Astec’s reputation for quality and performance, state-of-the-art engineering, and innovation at a competitive price. It’s been a long and enjoyable relationship, so Astec was the perfect choice for Walsh & Kelly’s new portable plant in La Porte.”

Walsh & Kelly chose the efficiency and flexibility of a portable Astec plant to serve customers in a larger geographic area.

Due to market changes and growth among its customers in Indiana, Walsh & Kelly decided on a 400 TPH (363 MTPH) Astec Portable Double Barrel® plant instead of a relocatable one. A portable plant allows the operation the flexibility to serve a larger geographic area, to meet the customers’ demands directly where they need it the most. As the customer base continues to expand, the efficiency of a portable plant will show benefits now and in the future.

The Best of Both Worlds

Many times, portable asphalt plants incorporate Astec’s self-erecting bins (SEB), which are highly portable, functional, and erect in under 15 minutes. However, thanks to their longstanding history, Walsh & Kelly knew that it could customize Astec’s design for the La Porte plant to best meet its needs and chose to install silos.

“We were familiar with the silo setup,” reported John Rietow, plant superintendent for Walsh & Kelly, “and hope to use a similar design at other locations in the future once we perfect it at La Porte.”


Communication Makes Set Up Easy

One of the benefits that keeps Walsh & Kelly coming back to Astec for its plant design is the open dialogue Astec engineers maintain with their clients. Customizing an asphalt plant to meet a customer’s needs demands an eye for detail and knowing how to ask the right questions. Astec’s wealth of experience prepares its team to engage the customer and discover the essential components each plant needs to be successful. Easy give-and-take leads to easy set up.

“The set up of the plant went very well,” Rietow added, “Astec’s drawings and layout of the equipment could not have gone smoother. Being a portable plant, the layout is a bit easier than normal but the Astec team made sure nothing was taken for granted.”

Astec’s Patented V-Pac Advantage

Another key element to the La Porte plant was the inclusion of Astec’s V-Pac stack temperature control system. Designed to enable the plant operator to manage stack temperature, the V-Pac system reduces fuel consumption and increases production capacity. When compared against the traditional limitations, stack temperature places on a plant’s operation, the patented V-Pac system is a true competitive advantage for today’s asphalt plant operators.

“We have experienced a great deal of success with the V-flights and a variable frequency drive (VFD) on another one of our plants we purchased a few years ago,” noted Rietow. “The V-flights allow you to run a wide range of mixes with different size aggregates—without having to enter the drum and change flight design.”

Also, when used in conjunction with a VFD, V-flights work to control veil density—another benefit of the V-Pac system. Utilization of a VFD enables running mixes ranging from virgin WMA to high RAP and open-grade mixes without flight changes. Use of a VFD with V-flights gives the operator control of the veil density just by changing drum rotational speed.

Taking the Heat

Another V-Pac advantage is a significant reduction in so-called hot spots. Traditional flights must rotate further before angle of repose reaches the tip of the flight. Therefore, hot gas bypassing occurs on one side of the drum. However, the V-flights provide an even veil, and with no holes in the veil, hot gas cannot bypass the material. Additionally, the V-flights produce a wider overall veil. Whereas the veiling for standard flights occurs only at the tip, veiling for the V-flights occurs at the tip and the notch.

“V-Pac has been a very successful purchase,” added Rietow. “It allows us to maintain good baghouse inlet temperature across a range of mixes.

The V-Pac allows the plant to run mixes that tend to cause high stack temperature, including high RAP mixes, without loss of speed or fuel efficiency. There is no need to adjust flights regardless of mix designs, which saves significant time and money.

  • Walsh & Kelly customized the La Porte asphalt facility with two, 200-ton (181 tonne) New Generation Storage System silos.

  • The La Porte plant features a portable 10 ft x 14 ft (3.05 m x 4.27 m) dual bin recycle feed system and a 36 in (91.44 cm) collecting conveyor.

  • Wash & Kelly’s La Porte plant has a portable 8 ft (2.44 m) Double Barrel® drum mixer, a Phoenix® Talon burner, and a portable 66,782 CFM Express Baghouse with inertial dust separator.

  • A 10 ft x 30 ft (3.05 m x 9.14 m) power center, complete with a Total Control II-HMA PLC control system, handles operations for the Walsh & Kelly La Porte plant.