Boh Bros. Construction Co. L.L.C., founded in 1909 in New Orleans, Louisiana, has grown to be one of the largest and most respected general contractors in the Southern United States. Boh Bros. provides construction services in the areas of heavy civil construction, marine, piledriving, underground utilities, and paving. Boh Bros. has also operated their own asphalt plant along the city's industrial canal for the past 45 years. They have built a reputation for meeting their communities' needs with a variety of mix types at the capacity their customers require. However, finding themselves in need of more aggregate storage than their previous 4-acre (1.62 hectares) site could provide, Boh Bros. sought to establish a larger footprint in the area.

Astec five-bin cold feed system
As part of the plant footprint, Boh Bros. utilized a 10 ft x 14 ft (3.05 m x 4.27 m) five-bin cold feed system.
Astec relocatable Double Barrel® plant
Boh Bros. upgraded to Astec’s 8 ft (2.43 m) relocatable Double Barrel® plant with a 76,718 CFM Pulse Jet baghouse.

Partnering With Astec

In doing so, they also decided to upgrade some antiquated systems, as Mike Hudnall, asphalt department manager at Boh Bros., explained: "We started looking at plant models and manufacturers. It was obvious from our past experience that Astec had everything we needed—from the actual equipment to the technology to the servers to the sales delivery set up—you name it! We were very happy with our choice."

The new Boh Bros. plant in the Port of New Orleans opened in early March 2015 and is now bigger—five times larger than the former footprint—and better. The 22-acre (8.9 hectare) plant is equipped with six 200-ton (181 tonne) silos and is located on the industrial canal with dedicated wharf access for loading and unloading material barges. With increased storage capacity and updated plant equipment from one end of the line to the other, the plant is more efficient and productive.

Astec's engineering staff directed us on the proper designs for footings to ensure our plant had the right support.

Challenge Meets Opportunity

Placing a high-capacity asphalt plant within a densely packed urban area presents as many challenges as it does opportunity. Much of Boh Bros.' asphalt is used by local industry, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Working with Astec, Boh Bros. was able to design a plant that meets their unique situation head-on. The extra storage is essential for Boh Bros. to produce multiple types of mix, store them on hand, and then provide them to their customers when needed. Another improvement is the plant being set on a paved surface, which helps prevent on-site loss during materials transfer.

"As a paved plant site," Hudnall added, "we are now able to produce as much aggregate and mix as we can with no material loss into the ground. That and the additional storage make a significant improvement in our ability to operate efficiently."

Fired Up and Ready To Go

With updated equipment throughout the plant, some might worry about the learning curve needed to bring operators up to speed with the new systems. However, Boh Bros. discovered the opposite was true—as their team found the new technology user friendly from the start.

"Understanding how to run our old plant is very similar to running the new plant," Hudnall said. "The biggest difference was moving from push-button technology to point-and-click technology. Instead of switches and gears and relays, now our operators have a wealth of information right there on the screen in front of them. We also purchased the Astec WeighMate 2000 inventory system, and we are ecstatic with its data collection and reporting." Additionally, the new plant includes three RAP bins, allowing Boh Bros. to increase its capability to recycle the area's pavements for use back into asphalt. "We all benefit from that," Hudnall added, stating that the plant is on course to maximize its use of recycle in the future.

Energy Efficiency

Furthermore, with its new technology and more efficient paved surface, the plant has already demonstrated its ability to reduce energy consumption by a considerable margin. "A plant's biggest energy expense and energy loss is the effort it takes to dry rock. Having the paved surface prevents a good deal of moisture from collecting in the material," Hudnall explained, "so we do not waste excess energy having to dry it." Hudnall noted that the plant's increased storage also translates to increased life for the plant: "If we can meet the customer's need without having to fire up the plant—it's hard to imagine a more efficient system than that. It's like a car: if you don't have to crank it, you won't waste any fuel."

A Difference You Can See

From the first phone call to first mix being moved into storage, Boh Bros. could see the careful planning Astec put into their process—even in things that are not easily visible. "Astec helped us make the best decisions in the components and equipment needed for the markets we want to serve," Hudnall said. "Astec's engineering even directed us on the proper designs for footings, for foundations we would need—all the things you can't see beneath the ground—to ensure our plant has the right support. They helped us at every stage of the process and it shows in the results."