Socogetra S.A. is one of Belgium's leading civil engineering and road construction companies. Several of the Ammann plants in Socogetra's fleet of asphalting equipment still have long service lifetimes ahead of them – but their control systems (the key technology of the plants) were starting to become outdated.
As Eric Perard, Industry Director at Socogetra, explains: "Our old Ammann AS2000plus Control System has functioned superbly for many years, and it has performed excellently throughout its lifetime. Nevertheless, we needed to take advantage of the latest technological advances offered by Ammann's as1 Control System so that we could continue to produce high-quality asphalt and anticipate our future requirements."
The Ammann Global 300 at Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium, was the first asphalt-mixing plant to benefit from a retrofit. This project was completed so smoothly and effortlessly that Socogetra decided to repeat the process on its plants at Bastogne and Arlon, which produce as much as 60 000 tonnes of asphalt each year. The as1 was therefore installed on the Ammann Global 160 and the Ammann Global 200.
Ammann’s tried-and-tested retrofit procedure was followed during all three conversions to the as1 Control System. Ammann experts reviewed each of the existing systems and then incorporated current modules into the new as1 configuration for each asphalt-mixing plant.
Conversion from the AS2000plus to the as1 Control System took just half a day, and staff training only required another 48 hours. Ammann technicians were on hand for a further 15 days to ensure that the conversion went smoothly, and to give the operators a thorough understanding of how the system works.
"The handoff to the as1 system was completed very quickly," Perard notes. "This software is highly intuitive. The main advantages are technological. We have better control over production, and we benefit from more alerts and settings to allow in-depth monitoring and control. And control is more flexible. Our plant managers and operators are equally pleased with the changeover.“
The as1 was developed to handle multiple recipes with high precision. "It's very simple to adjust recipes," Perard points out. "Everything goes very quickly."
The system also makes it possible to use recycled asphalt (RAP). "We can now use 20 per cent RAP – which we were not incorporating before the retrofit," Perard explains. "In the longer term, we aim to boost this result to reach 30 per cent," he adds.
The savings made possible by a retrofit as compared to purchasing a new asphalt-mixing plant will assist Socogetra with its acquisition of the Enrobage Stockem company; and, as the key benefit, the reliability and quality of asphalt production will also be improved.
The company is taking on large-scale projects in Belgium as well as other countries. These include roads and motorways, railways for high-speed trains, main and branch pipework installations, sewage treatment and environmental projects, and also commercial and industrial infrastructure projects.
"With our strong foothold in the Walloon region of Belgium, we can quickly organise suitable specialised teams that are readily available and highly efficient," Perard comments. "Our own quarries, asphalt mixing plants and concrete plants give us the capabilities to meet all supply-side requirements. And thanks to our thorough knowledge of the environment, the materials and the expectations of our many customers, we can offer them the services and benefits of a high-calibre partnership."