A modern asphalt paving machine is a complex and sophisticated piece of equipment, but the simplest component on the entire machine is arguably the most important. The screed plates fitted to most pavers may be little more than pieces of shaped sheet metal, but without a well-maintained and properly adjusted screed, a paving machine cannot lay down a flat, even layer of asphalt, making the entire machine useless.
Fortunately, maintaining your paver's screed plates is not a particularly complex process, and you can significantly extend the working lifespan of any paver screed with a few simple maintenance tasks. However, it is also important to know when a paver screed has become damaged beyond repair and needs to be replaced.
How Should You Properly Maintain Paver Screed Plates?
Daily maintenance of your paver's screed is considered essential during the construction season and is still highly recommended during extended periods of downtime.
The most important part of any screed maintenance routine is making sure that the screed plate remains level and properly aligned at all times. If the plate is even slightly out of alignment, the asphalt mat it creates will be uneven, with an inconsistent compression profile that can significantly reduce the short- and long-term durability of the asphalt.
Aligning a screed is fortunately a simple process that can be performed using ordinary stringline. Make sure to stringline both the front and rear edge of the screed plate, as poor adjustment at either end can reduce grade uniformity in asphalt mats.
Preventing rust and corrosion from forming on the screed plate(s) is also a vital part of screed maintenance. Most screed plates are protected from rust by tough, anti-corrosive paints or powder coatings. However, asphalt itself can also be highly corrosive. Any dried asphalt or pieces of constituent aggregate that are left on the plate for extended periods can cause widespread corrosion and damage.
Screed cleaning is easiest to perform just after the end of the working day, while the screed plates are still hot and any leftover asphalt and aggregate has not had time to harden and set. As long as the screed plates are still reasonably hot, they can usually be effectively cleaned with basic scraping tools and pressure washers.
When Should You Replace Screed Paver Plates?
Unfortunately, even the most well-maintained screed plates do not last forever, and eventually corrosion, wear and tear, or mechanical malfunctions will damage a screed plate beyond repair. If a screed plate has significant amounts of visible corrosion, or if it has been pierced or gouged by a malfunctioning component (such as a misaligned auger), it should be replaced ASAP.
Aging screed plates will also suffer wear at points where they are fastened to the main body of the screed. Worn screen plates fall out of alignment more readily and are more difficult to maintain, so you may wish to replace them to save time on maintenance, even if they still usable.
If you need replacement screed plates for an asphalt paving machine, you should always purchase replacement parts from a reputable parts dealer specialising in road construction equipment parts. These suppliers can obtain OEM replacement parts direct from paving machine manufacturers, and many also offer aftermarket plates that can be superior to factory-fitted plates. Contact a company that offers asphalt machine parts for sale to learn more.