DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF OPERATION I THINK WE’LL SURPASS PAST PRODUCTION RATES AT THIS LOCATION.
— Terry McGill, general manager, R.J. Noble
When you’ve been in business since 1950, it’s obvious you need to be constantly making investments to attract, maintain and retain new customers, and that seems to be the successful approach this Southern California asphalt producer and paving contractor continues to take by recently bringing a new plant online in late 2017.
Based in the City of Orange, CA, R.J. Noble serves the needs of customers throughout Orange and Riverside counties primarily, with occasional work in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. They replaced a batch plant at the Orange quarry site with an Astec Double Barrel plant in 2008 to increase production in order to better serve the needs of their paving crews, as well as independent paving contractors and municipality department of public works customers.
With the success of upgrading the Orange facility, company management began evaluating the need to upgrade the Corona batch plant facility, which was limited to producing 400,000 tons per year.
Terry McGill, general manager in charge of all operations – quarry, recycling and asphalt, says he and other Noble associates really liked how the Astec plant performed and decided the economic growth of Riverside County market prompted the decision to replace the Corona batch plant with another Astec Double Barrel plant.
McGill, who’s been with R.J. Noble for 25 years, says there were many compelling reasons why the company decided it was time to upgrade and why they chose to go with another Astec plant. The old batch plant had definite limitations, not only with the volume of mix it could produce, but also with the type of mix it could efficiently produce.
The Astec Generation 2.0 Warm Mix System allows Noble to increase production of warm mix asphalt, which requires less fuel to produce.
“Approximately 60 percent of the mix we produce is warm mix that’s produced at 265-275 degrees (F),” McGill notes.
The lower temperature, along with the fuel efficiency of the Phoenix Phantom 125 MBTU/hr. gas burner, generates significant savings for the company.
The other advantage of the new plant is the ability to incorporate more recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) into the various mix designs required for the projects R.J. Noble paves, as well as the projects other contractors and customers are building. According to McGill, Caltrans currently allows 20 percent RAP content in base layers of its highway projects. Other customers, particularly on commercial projects like parking lots, allow a much higher RAP percentage, and Noble can now accommodate those mix designs with the drum plant. “We did our (Noble’s) parking lot using a mix design with 50 percent RAP,” McGill adds.
RAMPING UP PRODUCTION
R.J. Noble fired up the new plant in late 2017 and, after working out some of the bugs (primarily the communication to and from the PLC Control System) common with any new plant setup, is now producing 3,000 tons per day. Fifty percent of the mix produced at the facility supports R.J. Noble’s three paving crews, with the remainder sold to other contractors and customers.
“We have two trucking companies with 100 trucks to support our crews as well as other projects,” McGill notes. “During the first year of operation, I think we’ll surpass past production rates (400,000 tons annually) at this location, and I would consider that a success. We know this plant, especially with the six 300-ton storage silos, has the capacity to deliver a lot more and that was a primary objective when we decided to purchase it.
“We pretty much mirrored the setup we have in Orange,” McGill adds. “We have six, 10 ft. by 14 ft. cold feed bins and three, 10 ft. by 14 ft. RAP bins. When we installed the Orange plant, we went with 120-ton cold feed silos, but we decided to go with the cold feed bins at the Corona facility. The other difference is the Orange plant has six 300-ton and three 200-ton storage silos, and we decided to start out with six 300-ton storage silos at Corona.”
THE PLANT PUTS US IN A POSITION TO SERVICE THE GROWING NEEDS OF OUR CUSTOMERS.
— Terry McGill, general manager, R.J. Noble
Along with the 9-foot by 47-foot Double Barrel Drum Mixer, other notable components include a 95,893 CFM Pulse Jet Baghouse, a Command Control Center with the Total Control II-HMA PLC Control System, a separate MCC (motor control center) to isolate large motors and other electrical components from the Command Control Center, four 35,000 gal. CEI vertical liquid asphalt binder tanks, a CEI 35,000 gallon vertical “rubber” liquid asphalt binder tank, and a CEI 10,000 gallon vertical tank for tack emulsion.
A unique component, a blue smoke collector, was added to the Astec plant to remove nearly 100 percent of the emissions, which is required by California air quality guidelines for asphalt production facilities. Rated at 48,000 CFM, the system covers every emission point – tops of silos, conveyor transfer points and truck load-out areas.
“The plant really puts us in a position to service the growing needs of our customers,” McGill points out. “Caltrans, for example, requires all our RAP content be fractionated. So, we have a separate recycling facility to do that before we bring it to this new plant. Now when we add RAP to a Caltrans warm mix order, we and Caltrans know exactly what is being added to the final mix as far as recycled aggregate, sand and asphalt binder.”
Noble follows the same procedure when it comes to recycling old rubber tires. California has been a leader in utilizing the valuable resource of recycled ground tire rubber for several decades, with R.J. Noble blending the ground rubber component into liquid binders at its Orange facility to meet Caltrans’ mix specifications, as well as provide rubber mix to other customers.
“Caltrans likes using rubberized pavements for the service performance and quiet ride they deliver, so we actually purchased a plant 15 years ago to process (blend) our own rubber additive,” McGill says. Cities and counties are jumping on the rubberized asphalt pavement bandwagon as well, so having another state-of-the-art drum plant to efficiently and effectively produce rubberized mix designs puts us in a very good position to fill those growing demands.”
As California continues to expand its usage of recycled building products, R.J. Noble continues to fill that need. R.J. Noble recycles approximately 500,000 tons of asphalt, concrete and rubber annually.
“With this new facility, we believe we are now in a position to provide the quantities of various mix designs our customers want at any given time. That has been the driving force behind the investments and upgrades the owners are committed to making,” McGill says. “The next generation of this company plans to be here and expand R.J. Noble’s market by continuing to invest in the equipment and people we need to succeed.”
Robert “J.R” Gillespie, Corona plant superintendent, echoes those sentiments, adding, “Our goal within the next five years is to be producing 1 million tons per year out of this facility. With SB1 legislation (California passed legislation in 2017 approving a 12-cent per gallon tax on gasoline and a 16-cent tax on diesel, with all new revenue dedicated to road construction), we’re already seeing a significant increase in projects being constructed, and I know we’ll see a lot more in the years ahead. We’re ready to supply new projects in our market.”
McGill is confident R.J. Noble will continue to work with suppliers like Astec who can help them grow. “We’ve known and worked with the folks from Astec for many years and they continue to support us not only with quality equipment, but with the continued service we receive to get the most out of the equipment,” McGill states. “We know we can count on them.”