ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory®
ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory Features
The ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory is a fully self-contained gradation lab designed to automate AASHTO T11 & T27 ASTM C117 & C136 aggregate testing. It is fully portable, measuring in at 24 inches deep and 36 inches wide. Depending on user selected feet or casters, testing deck can range from 37 to 44 inches.
ACE’s proprietary sieves are diametrically different boasting 532% volume of standard sieves. Sieves sizes range from 25mm to 7.5μ, up to 15 different sizes. Sieve walls are slanted at 69 degrees promoting motion of the aggregate and delivering a far more accurate result than a standard stack. Triangulating load cells have a maximum capacity exceeding 30,000 grams reporting to .1g.
The ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory operates under our proprietary TITAP or Total Integration Total Automation Protocol. This proprietary software fully automates the process so that the user needs only to enter in the test information including the type of project, location, type of gradation of stockpile or mix, washed or not, and desired reporting sieves. While the unit tests each size and reports each size individually, the user has the ability to choose which sieves are reported on by manipulating the data to account for user selected sieves. The user interface is a fully functional touch screen computer.
Preloaded control points allow for editable or customizable Job Mix Formula or JMF. JMF design can be manual or automated through our proprietary module. The Automated JMF Module design blends up to 4 aggregates* generating up to 100,000 possible mix designs per minute based upon stored test results.
Reports are delivered automatically via onboard Wi-Fi. Then, the user has the option to download the report through the onboard USB port, upload it to ACE Advantage, or print it using the optional onboard thermal printer. Reporting can be done using either standard or metric systems of measurement or in any language upon request*.
*Additional number of aggregates or languages available upon request. May be subject to additional cost.
Functions of the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory
The ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory is a fully portable self-contained unit which essentially is a laboratory clean room. The cabinet houses the equipment, devices, and 15 sieves to be used in the sieving process; devices which are all a marked technical upgrade of the parts and pieces that are used in the conventional aggregate testing practices.
Using LabVIEW® as the development platform, the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory provides the technician with a command module to manage the processes that are involved to prepare the aggregate sample for testing, including washing, drying to a consistent mass and vibrating the mass through the gradation sieves. The command module literally has a text to speech utility that verbally guides the user through each of the steps he or she must take to process the test from beginning to end, thereby ensuring total compliance with the industry standards that govern the process.
ACE offers a training program for users of the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory®.
As well, it is particularly important to note that the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory uses a vacuum system to remove moisture rather than heat used in the conventional practice. This has the effect of reducing the time it takes to dry the materials while increasing the accuracy of the measurement data as the material is passed though the sieves by protecting the geological structure of the sample with no exposure to light.
Given the test and measurement capabilities of the proprietary code, the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory automatically weighs, measures and calculates the results thereby eliminating the potential for human error while offering 100% responsibility.
Data points for each sieve are established and plotted in both numerical and graphical format known as the industry Power 45 Chart. If the data falls within the predetermined embedded standards controls and restricted values, the mix conforms to project specifications, as well as industry standards, and is ready to use. If not, the software will prompt the technician to redesign a new sample, the test is repeated until the mix, or some variation thereof, is brought into compliance with the standards required.
Finally, given ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory’s report generating capabilities, the machine interfaces with the Internet and Microsoft products to swiftly report the test results numerically via the industry standard Power 45 graph. This report will give you the next action steps whether on the production line, on a job site, or in an inspector’s office to gain customer acceptance. No matter what the next steps are, the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory will make it easier for you to get there.
Benefits of Using the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory
The ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory delivers a fully automated gradation solution as an alternative to the costly, labor intensive testing processes currently used by the aggregate industry. It is a fully portable, self-contained clean room with an intelligent operating system driven by ACE’s proprietary LabVIEW® testing and measurement software. There are many benefits to using this machine for your testing needs, here are a few to consider when choosing ACE for your aggregate testing needs:
First, the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory is easy to use and can be used by anyone*. This reduces the time it takes to train a technician. Current testing must be done by trained professionals in a laboratory. The average cost of aggregate testing is $80 per test and these tests can take considerable time while the plant continues its production.
The automated nature of ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory’s testing reduces the risk of human error by establishing a standardized repetitive process that incorporates the testing protocols of the industry. In turn, this increases the reliability of the gradation process. Gradation tests are completed in as little as 1/3 of the time it takes to complete a conventional test. At the same time, it substantially reduces the risks of internal re-testing and product failure in the field by creating a dynamic database of successful product mixes.
With a life of 7 years or more, the customer will generate a payback within a period of 14-18 months from the date of purchase. This payback is based on savings in acquisition, housing, productivity, testing equipment, and testing costs.
In short, the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory is both a productivity tool as well as a quality control tool.
We believe the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory will set the gradation standards for the entire industry. Its features are what make the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory a low-cost yet highly effective quality control solution for the aggregate industry.
ACE Auto-Grade Method
Current Gradation Methods
Automated testing eliminates the risk of human error by establishing a standardized, repeatable process resulting in increased reliability and accuracy of results.
Testing is susceptible to human error due to a lack of standardized, repeatable processes.
Current estimates indicate a reduction of $50 per test.
Estimated $80 per test industry-wide.
Time-saving, automated process that is done by machine on-site.
Labor-intensive, manual process that creates downtime by having materials sent away for testing.
Labor Cost Saving
State-of-the-art automated laboratory simple enough for anyone to use, therefore reducing the time and costs it takes to train a technician.
Testing must be completed by a certified technician.
Test results and data are automatically calculated, compiled, uploaded and delivered to company personnel via wired or wireless Internet connection through user-established email lists. The customer will also have the option to capture and analyze all test data, costs, product inventory and personnel related data in the soon to be released ACE Advantage database management system.
All test results and data must be manually gathered, inputted into reporting systems and distributed to company officials and/or outside agencies.