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CUSTOMER REPORT

TAKING CONTROL
How a new system transformed a Louisiana plant, boosted production, dramatically reduced waste and created a safer operation

Electronic control systems for asphalt plants
The plant operator at Glenn Lege Asphalt is very happy with the new control system

For three years on the job, Brandon Neuville couldn't take a proper vacation. As asphalt division manager at Glenn Lege in Abbeville, LA, Neuville describes the plant's daily production as a complete "nightmare," so much that one day off could mean something may go terribly wrong in his absence. "I spent 60% of my time just tweaking, looking at the mix. One day I would have one result, the next day, I would have another," he says. "It was even worse at times: maybe the morning gave me one result, the afternoon gave me another."

The mix had so many discrepancies, the calibrations were off and production had to stop frequently. "We had to shut down multiple times, go through the plant, zero everything out just to say 'hey, where are we here?'"

Neuville remembers. And most of all, the plant site was a complete safety hazard because alarms didn't function and asphalt was constantly in danger of getting backed up. His team agrees. "You had to constantly be watching, you could never just relax," Arnold "Buddy" Cruse, plant manager, recalls.

The problem keeping everyone at Glenn Lege on their toes for six years? Their controls system. Fast-forward to a sunny day in March, 2012, Neuville and three of his team members gather around their new Accu-Track™ Total Plant Control system from Stansteel, installed just this January. "I love it!" exclaims Travis Abshire, assistant plant manager. "And it's a lot safer."

Abshire and Cruse lived with the old problems a lot longer than Neuville so they are really appreciating the change. The controls system had been installed six years ago, and the two had seen the effects from day one. According to Abshire, "with the old system, you couldn't even see what was wrong." He adds, "Most of the time, we didn't even know what we had in the silo." The guesswork and troubles continued until 2009, when Neuville came on board and was instantly concerned with the way production had been going. He researched the market, and eventually discovered the only solution: a new controls system built by a company that truly understands how to make asphalt.

"I said to myself: 'This is not right.' I could tell that the programmer (for the old controls) didn't have a lot of asphalt plant knowledge," Neuville explained. "So a lot of the logic and things he did, number one, made no sense to make asphalt and, number two, was very dangerous."

Gregg Gilpin, director, electronic control engineering with Stansteel, Louisville, KY, explains further: "The controls are the brain of your whole operation. If they do not communicate properly with the plant, you do not know what each component of the plant is doing, your mix quality will suffer and you could put your crew in hazardous situations. You need a system built by people who understand how asphalt is made and what it takes to have a safe work environment."

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