Welcome to Asphalt Paving 101

Welcome to Asphalt Paving 101. You’re in the right place to learn the best practices for excellent asphalt paving. You know that getting a bonus-worthy mat starts long before you pull away from the starter plates under the screed. Paving the perfect mat requires effort and attention-to-detail from every member of the crew, from the most experienced foreman to the newest laborer, throughout the shift.

AsphaltPro’s Paving 101 course includes eight modules that will teach your crew the essentials of paving the perfect mat.

In Module 1, we’ll talk about each crew member’s responsibilities on the job. In module 2, we’ll cover safety basics, and Module 3 will review equipment maintenance. In modules 4 through 8, we’ll talk about the paving process from delivery of the mix to walking the job.

While this course won’t focus on plant production, we will help you with some best practices for loadout and mix delivery.

Before we get into each in-depth module, let’s get a 10,000-foot view of the paving process.

The first step in any paving operation is to have a crew meeting to discuss the day’s activities, work limits, time limits and traffic control. Although safety should always be top of mind, this meeting is a great time to drill down on staying safe on the job. We’ll discuss safety in greater detail in module 2. This toolbox talk is the time to remind crewmembers of the project’s parameters, and to make sure each crewmember knows who will be operating each piece of equipment. We’ll discuss the responsibilities of each operator in module 1. If you’re ever short on educational material for your toolbox talks, AsphaltPro has a Monday morning email blast with a quick training tip you can use for free.

After your morning toolbox talk, you’ll need to lay out and measure the work area. You need to know the length and width of the job, as well as the thickness of the mat. From there, you can determine how much material you’ll need to complete the job. We’ll discuss calculating fluff factor and yield in depth in module 8.

Once the foreman has determined the material needed for the job, he’ll need to call the plant to place the day’s order. He’ll know the specifics of the trucks that will be transporting material to the job site—their type, tonnage and legal load—and he’ll also know the plant turn-around time so he can effectively manage the day’s delivery schedule to the jobsite.

The next step is to check your equipment. Speaking generally, you’ll need to fill out inspection forms, check fluids and grease components, check the screed with the straight edge and inspect the tow points. We talk about maintenance of each piece of equipment in module 3.

Then, the paving process can begin. For this, we’ll talk about paving by the numbers. There are 14 key steps.

  • Step 1 Heat the screed
  • Step 2 Center tow points
  • Step 3 Set paving width
  • Step 4 Set main screed crown
  • Step 5 Set height of extensions
  • Step 6 Set slope of extensions
  • Step 7 Lower screed into starting position
  • Step 8 Null the screed
  • Step 9 Set the end gates
  • Step 10 Set auger height to be 2 inches above what you’re laying
  • Step 11 Set feed sensors
  • Step 12 Adjust feed control
  • Step 13 Fill auger chamber
  • Step 14 Pull off from starting plates

The first step is to heat the screed. Next, you’ll center the tow points and set the paving width. Then, you can set the main screed crown and the height and slope of the extensions. Step 7 will be to lower the screed into the starting position, and then null the screed. Then you’ll set the end gates, and set the auger height to be 2 inches above what you’re laying. Next, you’ll set the feed sensors and adjust the feed control. Then, you’ll fill the auger chamber, and lastly, you’ll pull away from the starting plates.

We’ll cover each of those steps in great detail in modules 4, 5, 6 and 7. Although getting everything set up correctly sets you up for success, you will continue to monitor your controls, your mix and mat temperatures, and especially the yield, as you pave throughout the shift.

After the job is done, it’s important to walk the job and ride the joints. This gives you a chance to notice any errors in the mat or joints so you can get them corrected. Let’s dive in together, starting with your team’s individual job descriptions in module 1.

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