photo: kpi-jci and astec mobile screens

Located in the center of the busy suburbs of the Windy City, Builders Asphalt has limited space to run its asphalt and concrete crushing and screening operations. That’s why maximizing the space it does have with the most efficient equipment is critical for the site’s operators.

Dissatisfied with the company’s existing equipment, Guy Dickson, plant and crushing manager at the company’s Skokie, Illinois site, went to work seeking out a portable and compact, yet powerful, setup that could effectively crush and screen the incoming asphalt and concrete to the facility. Additionally, Dickson was looking for more flexibility in screening these materials, but once again, space limited the company’s ability to set up multiple screens.

Equipment size, functionality, manufacturer reputation and affordability were Builders Asphalt’s chief criteria when considering updating its old equipment. To aid in its search, Builders Asphalt worked with Andy Bazan, vice president at Finkbiner Equipment Company. The Burr Ridge, Illinois-based company, which specializes in equipment sales and rental, worked closely with Builders Asphalt to go over a range of options. After deliberating on various equipment, Builders Asphalt ultimately settled on the CS5260 Andreas Series Horizontal Shaft Impactor (HSI) plant and PTSC205 Multi-Frequency Screen from KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens.

“The CS5260 is a big impactor, so when you’re [processing] the concrete, it allows you a bigger feed opening so you can handle material just with an impactor. [With] the asphalt, it becomes more of a screening operation, which is why we needed the PTSC205 to handle that volume,” Bazan says.

The CS5260 HSI crushing plant, Bazan explains, crushes the material down to a fine 3/8-inch, where it is then sent to the 5-by-20-foot multi-frequency screen.

“The multi-frequency screen has been beneficial in being able to get us to those fine cuts better than a conventional screen. I think that was one of the benefits of having the screening plant in combination with the impactor. Those fine cuts take a lot of surface area to get that product through the screen cloth,” explains Bazan.

Danny Loughran, regional sales manager at KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, adds, “Builders Asphalt has a small yard where they needed a new impactor, but most importantly, they needed a screen that was capable of accepting both recycled asphalt and concrete and have the ability to easily switch between the two. Working closely with Astec Mobile Screens, we decided that the multi-frequency, along with the CS5260, were the best options for them.”

Loughran adds, “The multi-frequency is able to produce fine screenings as well as higher tonnages with the recycled asphalt. The 205 allowed them to run the bottom deck vibrators when they needed to [with] asphalt but then turn them off when they didn’t need them for the recycled concrete.”

According to Dickson, the new multi-frequency screen allows the company to handle both concrete and asphalt to create fine and coarse fractionated reclaimed asphalt pavement (FRAP).

“On the job, [crews are] grinding and loading trucks and bringing it here. Our loader pulls the grindings from the pile, places them in the hopper where they go through the impactor and get screened into our course and fine FRAP materials using the multi-frequency,” Dickson says.

Because of Builders Asphalt’s unique operation, the versatility of the equipment has been instrumental in dealing with varying types of material composition.

“The majority of what they’re doing is recycled asphalt, so it can be any kind of mix of product. The piles here have been accumulating for years, so sometimes you don’t know what’s in that pile, so having that 5260 gives them the flexibility to take large pieces and be able to handle them, and then at the same time, if you have millings, you can just process those through the screening side of it,” Bazan says.

Paving the way

Builders Asphalt’s legacy dates back over 120 years. As descendants of the Palumbo family construction business, the team works together to manage, operate and grow both Builders Asphalt and its sister company, Builders Paving.

“We’re an asphalt plant and we do asphalt crushing to produce hot mix, … [but] we do paving, as well,” Dickson explains.

The company’s first crushing site in Elburn, Illinois, was in operation for 10 years before the company expanded to become a multi-plant operation that includes its Skokie location.

The crew at the Skokie site is comprised of eight workers who operate the loader, impactor, screen and other components.

“We have two or three guys [operating the crusher] depending on the material we’re running. You have to be a little bit more vigilant when you’re running concrete because there’s steel involved and you don’t want it to get caught up in any of your elements of the plant, so we generally have three guys on concrete and two guys on asphalt,” explains Dickson.

The small union team at Builders Asphalt is trained extensively on safety and general procedures, but Bazan and Dickson say that operational and maintenance procedures require more proactive on-the-job training to get up to speed with new equipment.

“These guys basically learn on the job. When you buy a new crusher, most of the time, nobody has run it before, so we have to learn. The team has been around [this type of equipment], but hasn’t learned that specific crusher—every [machine] has its own intricacies,” says Dickson. “It’s been great. We’ve had a lot of help from Finkbiner coming out; showing our guys [how the equipment works]; and getting them familiar with the plant, the crusher and procedures like changing the screens out, changing belts, telling us what to look for, and so on.”

The biggest operational challenge for the team at Builders Asphalt, Dickson says, is keeping up with maintenance with a small team and long hours of operation. To help stay on top of these challenges, Builders’ team has embraced virtual training as a way of supplementing on-site instruction.

“Being able to crush for nine hours a day and doing one hour a day of maintenance is a process. You’re adjusting belts, you’re adjusting blow bars, you’re lubricating bearings, and all of those things need to be addressed on a daily basis to keep you up and running and make the products you want to. We’ve tried to be part of the instruction. The apprentice here, Tom, said he’s been taking online courses that KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens offer to become familiar with it,” says Bazan. “I thought it was really interesting that a young guy would take the initiative to look online to see the information that’s provided by the group.”

Thanks to the emphasis on daily maintenance, Bazan and Dickson say the equipment runs more efficiently and effectively while reducing downtime, which saves both time and money for the company.

photo: kpi-jci and astec mobile screens

A successful partnership

Builders Asphalt and Finkbiner have been working together for over two decades and have built a level of trust regarding Finkbiner’s product offerings and expertise.

“We handle other products that they use, so that’s how the start of the relationship came to be,” Bazan says.

Bazan says that beyond trusting the products that KPI and Astec Mobile Screens produce, their U.S. manufacturing facilities lend support to their operations, which gives operators peace of mind.

“Equipment manufactured in America is a great thing [because] it brings you the support here,” Bazan says. “I don’t have to get it from somewhere else. I can get it [directly] from KPI and Astec Mobile Screens, frequently the same day. That’s a big asset for us. If there is a need, I can address it the same day or the next day. Being made in America helps that support come quickly when we need it, and you’ll always need it, all equipment needs it. It’s all about how quickly you can get back up [when there is downtime].”

Dickson explains that throughout the equipment buying process, this degree of access was an important factor, “Service is very important and parts are very important, as well as the ability to stay competitive with parts and their availability.”

He also says having a relationship with the manufacturer has paid dividends for the company.

“Having the relationship with the manufacturer is great because they are familiar with your needs, they are familiar with your working environment, and therefore, they can work with you a little bit better,” he says.

Dickson says he hopes to further develop these relationships as Builders Asphalt continues to grow, while Bazan says Finkbiner is up for the challenge of keeping up with the company’s evolving needs.

“They have been very gracious to work with us,” Bazan says. “They are one of the larger contractors here in the Chicago market and will continue to be that. They are in a growth spurt where they are updating their old equipment and this was one of the pieces that was part of the process. We look forward to continuing our work with Builders Asphalt.”

Holly Anderson is the marketing communication manager at Astec Industries. She can be reached at