Tag Archive for 'Neal Manufacturing'

Going the Distance

High-Volume Asphalt Maintenance Mixture Sets Innovative Roadway Solutions on the Path to Productivity

The hardest part of a project for most contractors is the bid. Balancing customer specs with overhead costs to produce a number both sides are comfortable with takes skill and a deep understanding of an operation’s capabilities. Partnering with industry-leading OEMs to provide efficiency-optimizing equipment can give contractors an edge in the bidding process. But a tool is only as good as the hand wielding it – or, in the case of asphalt preservation applications, the one applying it. In this competitive industry, a successful bid requires expert leveraging of experience and equipment to provide quality results with no waste.

For Innovative Roadway Solutions success means taking advantage of new innovations, even if they present a challenge to current processes. The company partnered with Neal Manufacturing to help meet quality and efficiency needs on specialized high-volume highway and shoulder applications

For Innovative Roadway Solutions – a pavement preservation specialist operating in Texas, Missouri, and the surrounding states – success also means taking advantage of new innovations, even if they present a challenge to current processes. This was the case when the company began using Onyx, a high-performance mastic sealer produced by Ingevity and spec’d by several DOTs in its operating area. To apply Onyx efficiently, Innovative Roadway Solutions needed an OEM partner with not only the experience to produce reliable equipment for the high-aggregate mixture; it needed a manufacturer willing to listen and custom-engineer machines for specialized high-volume highway and shoulder applications. So, the company turned to Neal Manufacturing, a division of Blastcrete Equipment LLC, for a solution to help them maintain their reputation for quality and dependability and still be able to submit competitive bids. 

Challenging the Status Quo

With more than 30 years of experience, Innovative Roadway Solutions always strives to provide affordable preventative maintenance applications that extend the longevity of asphalt roadways. In 2017, the company became part of Lionmark Construction Companies, a privately held group specializing in pavement preservation and road and bridge construction. The acquisition extended Innovative Roadway Solutions’ service area and gave the company a chance to grow, doubling its size in just two years.

One thing that remained constant throughout the growth period is the company’s commitment to harnessing the latest technology and products for the benefit of its customers. New and existing employees worked together to ensure Innovative Roadway Solutions remained just that – innovative. As they grew service offerings, they looked to incorporate processes and products popular across Lionmark’s area of operation.

Onyx was one such product. Introduced in 2012, the frictional mastic surface treatment quickly gained popularity with DOTs across the U.S. It offers high durability with frictional characteristics achieved from improving micro texture on the pavement surface. Fast drying times makes it popular with contractors and motorists alike, while the consistently black color offers striking contrast for aesthetic and safety benefits. For Innovative Roadway Solutions, the high-performance product looked to revolutionize pavement preservation processes in terms of durability and affordability. 

“Onyx was starting to show up on the spec sheets for DOT projects in numerous states, which are about 95 percent of our business, but even where customers weren’t specifically asking for it, we recognized its value for certain applications,” said Kevin King, President of Innovative Roadway Solutions. “The product bridged the gap between a fog seal and slurry seal, allowing us to offer customers another solution that would extend the life of their road surface without breaking the bank.”

Innovative Roadway Solutions worked with Neal Manufacturing to retrofit one of its existing high-volume application trucks with the HDP system and spray apparatus. It also bought a new 3,000-gallon truck system from the OEM. Equipped with the Generation IV 150-gpm pump, the new truck provided productivity like never before.

But there were a few bumps in the road when it came to integrating the new product into its service lineup.

The Path to Productivity

“Contracts with government agencies at the city, county and state level aren’t easy to get,” King said. “It’s not just about the lowest bid, though that is definitely a part of it. It’s about reputation. The high aggregate composition of Onyx requires a stronger pump than other spray applications. To maintain our reputation for quality and dependability and still be able to submit competitive bids, we needed specialized equipment that provided the volume and precision that customers required.”

When it came to pump design, Innovative Roadways Solutions knew there was no one in the pavement preservation industry with more experience than Neal Manufacturing and their parent company, Blastcrete Equipment LLC. Both companies have long histories of pump innovations. Since the 1950s, Blastcrete Equipment has been at the forefront of shotcrete pumping technology – introducing several equipment designs over the years that revolutionized applications in refractory and construction applications. Neal Manufacturing has similar claims to pump fame in the pavement preservation industry. Before its merger with Blastcrete in 2013, the company made significant innovations to hydraulic piston pumps to allow more efficiency and longevity for use with asphalt sealcoating products. Once the companies began operating out of the same Alabama-based facility, engineers continued to expand pump capacities for a number of applications. This combined experience and continued innovation earned Innovative Roadway Solutions’ trust.

“When dealing with high-aggregate products, Blastcrete provides a unique expertise other OEMs don’t have,” King said. “Their pumps are originally designed to handle robust, difficult materials. When they integrated that technology with Neal Manufacturing equipment, which already had excellent pumps for traditional preservation coatings, we knew we were working with a winning team for developing high-aggregate pavement preservation equipment.”

As Innovative Roadway Solutions made the transition to Onyx applications, the team worked with Neal Manufacturing to upgrade the pumps on some of their existing equipment to a more reliable hydraulic piston pump. Neal Manufacturing’s heavy-duty aggregate pump (HDP) system offered the fastest transfer rate on the market – up to 150 gpm – but more importantly, produced enough pressure to move mixtures with up to 10 pounds of sand per gallon. 

With a metering system custom-engineered from Neal Manufacturing, Innovative Roadway Solutions could accurately assess application rates and ensure uniform distribution of the surface treatment, allowing the contractor to remain a competitive bidder with agencies across its area of operation.

“Using Onyx with a traditional pump system results in a lot of unnecessary downtime,” King said. “Asphalt maintenance has a very limited season, only about seven months in some of the states we work in, so we need to make every minute count. Neal Manufacturing’s equipment is simple, easy to use and durable. With it there’s less cleaning, less maintenance and fewer clogs, saving us valuable minutes every day.” 

To truly maximize its potential on high-volume projects, Innovative Roadway Solutions needed more than a heavy-duty pump – it needed a reliable system with the precision to meet government agency specs. 

Miles to Go

Innovative Roadway Solutions worked with Neal Manufacturing to retrofit one of its existing high-volume application trucks with the HDP system and spray apparatus. It also bought a new 3,000-gallon truck system from the OEM. Equipped with the Generation IV 150-gpm pump, the new truck provided productivity like never before.

The basic design also provided a number of features that made application more user friendly for Innovative Roadway Solution crews. In-cab controls allowed drivers to easily control spray bar height for optimum control as weight shifted during application. This on-board system was also capable of controlling individual heads to provide more precision and flexibility for applications on narrow surfaces. 

However, the precision required by DOT and other government agencies still needed to be accounted for.

“We were bidding on projects with specified application rates, but, at first, we didn’t have a way to monitor that with the Neal Manufacturing system,” King said. “We had the right equipment but the trucks had to be modified to meet our customers’ standards. With Neal Manufacturing’s reputation for customized solutions, we knew we had the right partner to help us develop the appropriate equipment for our operation.”

True to their reputation, Neal Manufacturing listened to exactly what Innovative Roadway Solutions needed and engineered a metering system to work in conjunction with the contractor’s High-Volume Road Maintenance Vehicle. The system combined information for four load cells positioned on the corners of the tank with a component that measures distance to provide an accurate application rate. The OEM also included an on-board printer to provide immediate results when necessary. 

“It’s not always easy to find a manufacturer that’s willing to collaborate,” King said. “Often what you see is what you get when it comes to pavement preservation equipment. Or you have to wait awhile for the updated model to come out. Having Neal Manufacturing on our team meant that not only did we get the upgrades we needed quickly, but they’re now standard and will be available on the next high-volume vehicle we buy.”

With the new system, Innovative Roadway Solutions could accurately assess application rates and ensure uniform distribution, allowing the contractor to remain a competitive bidder with agencies across its area of operation.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Since 2017, Innovative Roadway Solutions has completed approximately 25 contracts spec’ing Onyx. The majority of these have been with local, state or federal agencies, requiring a high degree of precision, quality and dependability. All of which the asphalt maintenance contractor provides time and again.

“We’re still submitting the low bid for these projects,” King said, “but at this point, some of these agencies are more like our loyal customers. They know we will get the job done quickly, efficiently, and to spec.”

For one such project, completed for the Paris District of the TxDOT, Innovative Roadway Solutions applied 767,331 square yards of Onyx in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day weekend in 2019. As part of the overall job, crews used the Neal Manufacturing equipment to apply the mastic sealer to 207,748 square yards of parking areas, boat ramps, main grounds and RV spots at US Army Corps of Engineers Lake Jim Chapman at Cooper Dam, commonly called Cooper Lake. The application didn’t disturb visitors and surfaces were dry enough to resume normal traffic in time for the holiday. 

“This is a great time to be in the asphalt maintenance industry,” King said. “The process is changing. New products are coming out. Experienced manufacturers are stepping up to provide the equipment we need to leverage these to our customer’s advantage. It’s an ideal environment for Innovative Roadway Solutions to continue growing and continue pushing ourselves.”

This material appeared in the June 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Neal Manufacturing Updates Full Line to Tier 4 Final

Neal Manufacturing, a division of Blastcrete Equipment LLC and a leader in asphalt pavement preservation equipment, announces all their machines are Tier 4 Final compliant, including the DA 350 Dual Sealcoat Applicator and High-Volume Road Maintenance Vehicle

“As a customer-focused company, Neal Manufacturing is continually innovating, making sure our products employ the latest technology to meet or exceed all equipment standards,” said Tripp Farrell, president of Neal Manufacturing, a division of Blastcrete Equipment LLC. “Updating our line for Tier 4 Final compliance is just one of the many ways our team helps keep customers jobsite ready.”

Neal Manufacturing’s lineup of asphalt preservation equipment meets Tier 4 Final emission standards.

The DA 350 offers a 100 gpm hydraulic piston pump, for a robust, versatile application vehicle capable of handling pavement preservation products with heavy aggregate loads. The three-wheeled self-propelled sealcoating machine features a built-in, high powered blower and AutoTrim, an automatic cutting-in attachment, allowing contactors seven times the productivity on prep work along curb-and-gutter streets. A 35-horsepower Yanmar Water Cooled Diesel Tier 4 final engine powers the DA 350.

For high-quality results on large road projects, the High-Volume Road Maintenance Vehicle features Neal Manufacturing’s Generation IV pump that delivers infinitely variable outputs from 0-150 gpm, even with larger aggregates mixes. The Road Maintenance Vehicle is available with a Yanmar 3TNV88C, 35-horsepower Tier 4 Final engine. Individually or in combination with the DA 350 as part of Neal Manufacturing’s Asphalt Road Preservation Package, the High-Volume Road Maintenance Vehicle features innovative, productivity enhancing options for lasting sealcoat applications.

Neal Manufacturing backs their equipment with industry-leading customer support including free training seminars at the company’s Anniston, Alabama location. 

About Neal Manufacturing

The Neal Manufacturing Division of Blastcrete Equipment, LLC is an industry leader in the manufacture of pavement maintenance and sealcoat production equipment. Blastcrete Equipment LLC manufactures mixing, pumping and spraying equipment for the refractory, shotcrete, concrete construction and repair, underground mining and tunneling, and power generation industries worldwide. For more information: Neal Manufacturing Division of Blastcrete Equipment LLC, 2000 Cobb Ave., Anniston, AL 36201 770-830-1282; fax 256-236-9824; eric@nealequip.com; or www.nealequip.com.

Paving the Way for Success

When Charlie Swift started Southeast Asphalt and Maintenance LLC in 1996, his budget determined his equipment, and his equipment determined the jobs he could take. 

“Basically, I started out with the cheapest equipment I could get,” he said.  

For Swift, building an asphalt sealcoating and maintenance company from the bottom up meant getting things done on an extremely limited budget. Through the humble beginnings of his business, Swift quickly learned that when you rely on inexpensive, used equipment, you’re only as good as your worst piece – and that was anything but efficient. 

Since adding the DA-350 to the Southeast fleet, Swift has discovered a significant bidding advantage over many competitors. The dual applicator has made it possible to place lower bids, bid on a wider range of projects, and complete them in less time.

Early on, his equipment set the parameters for his potential. Projects took longer to complete, and he was only able to bid on small projects, such as parking lots for banks and other local businesses. Determined to keep finding work, Swift maximized the potential of his second-hand sealcoating equipment. 

“As I gained more experience, I kept getting better and better and saw my business growing busier and busier,” he said. 

Finally, Swift reached a tipping point.

“I was getting enough work that I could start upgrading equipment. It made it possible for us to handle larger jobs,” he said. 

The jobs continued to line up and Swift hasn’t looked back. It’s now been two decades and Southeast has expanded to have a national reach. Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, a majority of the company’s work is centered in the southeast, but knowing his equipment is up to the task, Swift isn’t afraid to bid large projects across the country.

A driving force behind Swift’s confidence to bid bigger jobs was the Neal Manufacturing Division of Blastcrete Equipment, LLC’s DA-350 Dual Applicator, purchased in 2014. It wasn’t the first time he had bought a Neal Manufacturing applicator, but it was the first one he purchased new. 

For Swift, it didn’t take spreadsheets or months of operation to see the value of his newest machine. The DA-350 dual applicator, equipped with a spray bar and even-flow squeegee, was quick to demonstrate its value, project after project. Prior to adding the DA-350 to his fleet, Southeast would take on large lots using a truck-mounted hand-spray applicator. With the new machine, some hand spraying is still required, but only around the edges. 

Once the prep is complete and the edges are sprayed, one person is able to drive the DA-350 to complete the remaining surface. Instead of three workers hand spraying with three tips, one employee can conquer the same area in a fraction of the time, cutting overall project time and freeing up the additional crew members to move on to other jobs. Swift said the dual machine makes quick work of large lots, helping him complete jobs that once took 10 to 12 hours in as few as four.  

After Southeast Asphalt purchased Neal Manufacturing’s dual applicator machine, which features a squeegee and spray bar, they quickly saw its value, project after project.
 

A Class of Its Own

Since adding the DA-350 to the Southeast fleet, Swift has discovered a significant bidding advantage over many competitors. The dual applicator has made it possible to place lower bids, bid on a wider range of projects, and complete them in less time. Swift also increased profits, estimating Southeast can earn 35 to 40 percent more each day using the new machine.

Swift pointed out that for many projects, similar productivity can be reached with other commercial ride-on sealing applicators, but to him, there are times when there’s no comparison. 

“The pump,” Swift said, “is the differentiating factor. Their pump is capable of handling more material and heavier material than any other pump I’ve used. The Neal Manufacturing pump is known for that. They don’t need as much maintenance or cleaning, either.”

The DA-350 uses the company’s heavy-duty aggregate pump, which achieves 100 gallons per minute. It also manages heavier sand loads. 

“Diaphragm pumps work great for a standard sand load of 2 to 4 percent, but some projects require a heavier sand load. That’s when I need the DA-350,” Swift said.

Swift will run a sand load of 4 percent up to 8 percent through the DA-350 without hesitation. His fleet of resurfacing applicators also includes machines equipped with diaphragm pumps. But when a project requires anything over 4 percent, he knows it will be going through the Neal Manufacturing pump.

Prior to adding the DA-350, Southeast Asphalt would take on large lots using a truck-mounted hand-spray applicator. With the new machine, some hand spraying is still required, but only around the edges. 

Good, Better, Best

Swift doesn’t hesitate to declare that Neal Manufacturing makes the most dependable and efficient asphalt resurfacing applicator he’s worked with. He also wasn’t shy about approaching the manufacturer when he had ideas for improvement. According to Swift, Neal Manufacturing engineers not only welcomed his input, but worked with him to develop custom improvements for his applicator. 

“It was easy,” Swift said. “When I worked with the engineer, he had some solutions and suggestions, as did I, and we came out with a great machine.” 

The most notable improvements were made to his machine’s hydraulics and switches, specifically, the hydraulic dump valve. On a standard DA-350, the dump valve is controlled by a toggle switch and manually operated with a foot pedal. Swift’s DA-350 features a modified hydraulic dump control. The custom control makes it possible for the operator to open and close the valve as fast as he or she wants. The modification also allows the operator to set and hold the valve at a desired rate without having to continually monitor the control. 

“With the standard foot pedal, if you want it open 20 percent, you have to manually hold it right there. With mine, I just open it up to the dump rate I want, let loose and it stays put. I don’t have to worry about holding a certain pressure, if I set it at 50 percent, it stays at 50 percent,” Swift said. “The feature helps simplify things for the operator, who already has a lot going on – driving the machine, dumping sealer, trying not to dump too much – this modification makes it much easier.”

Dual Threat Contractor

As a business owner, Swift has discovered numerous advantages to owning a DA-350 dual applicator, the most significant of which has been its ability to transform Southeast into a dual-threat contractor. The DA-350 combines a six-tip spray bar capable of spraying 11 feet combined with an 8-foot squeegee. The option of a riding squeegee unlocks an entirely new segment of the asphalt sealing and maintenance contracts.

Many contractors don’t invest in a riding squeegee applicator because it’s not necessary for most jobs, especially smaller ones. For Swift, the ability to tackle everything from local bank parking lots to massive distribution centers has been a game changer. 

“Eighty percent of contractors can’t offer the squeegee method unless they do it by hand. Having both on one riding machine puts you in a different category of contractors,” Swift explained. “We get invited to work for large distribution centers all over the country because of our capabilities. Contractors who don’t offer the ride-on squeegee method can’t bid those jobs.” 

Swift will still tell you that you’re only as good as your worst piece of equipment, but in recent years he’s been more concerned about reaching the full potential made possible by his best piece of equipment.

Blastcrete Equipment Company Retains Key Neal Manufacturing Employees Following Acquisition

Maury Bagwell

Maury Bagwell

Blastcrete Equipment Company has retained several key Neal Manufacturing employees following its acquisition of the company in November 2013. Neal, a leading manufacturer of mechanized asphalt sealcoating equipment, now operates as a division of Blastcrete in Anniston, Ala.

Greg Dodson, Eric Humphries and Edward Langley are staying on with the company. They join Maury Bagwell, who left his position as Neal’s president in 2011 to join the Blastcrete team.

Blastcrete President Jim Farrell said that, with Blastcrete’s financial stability, Neal customers can be assured Neal will be there to provide the equipment and service they need for years to come. He added that Blastcrete and Neal customers are fortunate to be able to benefit from the experience, expertise and continuity that Dodson, Humphries, Langley and Bagwell provide for the new Blastcrete division.

“We’re excited about continuing Neal’s leadership in the industry, meeting the needs of its existing customer base and reaching out to new customers,” Farrell said. “These are excellent employees who, over the years, helped connect the Neal name to quality and innovation in sealcoating. Now they’re doing the same as part of the Blastcrete family.”

Dodson brings 20 years of industry experience to his role as a fabrication specialist. He has held a range of positions at Neal and other companies, including purchaser, designer, fabricator and shop manager.

Humphries also brings 20 years of industry experience to the new division in his role as sales manager. He was a sales representative for Neal from 1994 to 2001, then opened Advantage Sealcoating in Atlanta in 2001 and rejoined Neal in 2005. Humphries serves as a seminar instructor, and with his broad experience he can educate both contractors and manufacturers from both sides of the business.

Langley, who gained 10 years of experience as a repair technician at Neal, assembles and maintains products to ensure maximum performance. He earned a degree in flexography from West Georgia Technical College in Carrollton, Ga.

Bagwell invented the 50-gpm electrically controlled pump (ESP) and 100-gpm electrically controlled super sand pump (ESSP) hydraulic piston pump systems. Both of them, along with the application specific hydraulic demand system, were protected under U.S. patents. He brings 39 years of industry experience to overseeing design, engineering and maintenance as Blastcrete’s general manager. Bagwell earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Neal Manufacturing has been leading the mechanized asphalt sealcoating equipment industry since 1977. The company pioneered the development of ride-on squeegee and self-propelled machines, as well as its 50-gpm electrically controlled pump (ESP) and 100-gpm electrically controlled super sand pump (ESSP) hydraulic piston pump systems, which were industry firsts. Neal Manufacturing is a division of Blastcrete Equipment Co., a manufacturer of mixing, pumping and spraying equipment serving the refractory, shotcrete, concrete construction and repair, underground mining and tunneling, and power generation industries worldwide. For more information: Blastcrete Equipment Company, Neal Manufacturing Division visit: www.nealequip.com.