Calculate Asphalt Millings | Cubic Yard (or Feet) to Tons

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As an asphalt materials specialist with over 25 years of expertise, determining accurate quantities of reclaimed asphalt millings for reuse in projects is an essential skill. In this article, I’ll discuss the standard methods for calculating tonnage volumes of milled material according to established industry protocols.

Overview of Asphalt Milling Operations

When deteriorated asphalt pavement needs rehabilitation but the substrate is still structurally sound, milling the surface layer is often the most economical option. Milling entails using a large rotational drum equipped with carbide teeth to grind and remove the top layer of asphalt down to a desired depth.

The milled material, known as reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), is then transported for reuse as an aggregate base or in new hot mix asphalt (HMA). Assessing the total quantity of RAP available from a milling job is critical for bidding on reuse projects or selling the material.

Key Measurements Needed

Calculating estimated tonnage first requires gathering key measurements in the field:

  • Milling depth – Typically 1.5 to 4 inches, verified across the area.
  • Milling width – Width of drum pass, usually around 6 feet.
  • Length – Feet or meters along each section of roadway milled.
  • RAP density – Lab testing provides the RAP’s weight density, usually 110-130 lbs/ft3.

With these figures, we can apply accepted industry formulas to derive total tonnage quantities.

Step 1 – Determine Milling Volume

Using the length, width, and depth measurements, calculate the volume of material removed in cubic feet or cubic meters:

Volume (ft3) = Length (ft) x Width (ft) x Depth (in) / 12

Or in metric units:

Volume (m3) = Length (m) x Width (m) x Depth (mm) / 1,000,000

Sum the volumes for each section milled if doing multiple roadway areas.

Step 2 – Convert to Weight Using RAP Density

Take the RAP density test result and multiply it by the total volume to convert to tons:

Tonnage = Volume (ft3) x RAP Density (lbs/ft3) / 2,000

For metric:

Tonnage = Volume (m3) x RAP Density (kg/m3) / 1,000

This yields the estimated tons of RAP material recovered from the milling work.

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Step 3 – Validate With Truck Volumes

As a check, compare the calculated tonnage to the actual truckload volumes hauled to validate the figures:

Proper planning, measurements, density testing, and truck data validation ensure milling tonnage is accurately assessed.

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Example Milling Quantity Calculation

Let’s calculate tons of RAP for a project:

Applying the steps:

  1. Volume = 750 ft x 12 ft x 3 in / 12 = 2,250 ft3
  2. Tonnage = 2,250 ft3 x 115 lbs/ft3 / 2,000 = 130 tons
  3. 130 tons / 22 tons/truck = ~6 truckloads (matches actual)

Using the accepted standards produces reliable RAP quantities for reuse.

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Best Practices for Maximizing Accuracy

Some key best practices include:

  • Measure milled areas and depths carefully in multiple spots for precision.
  • Obtain lab testing of RAP density from project samples. Published averages are less reliable.
  • Weigh trucks on certified scales, not estimates.
  • Examine RAP pile shape and utilize surveying tools as needed to derive volumes.
  • Compare truck data to calculations and tweak figures to match real-world observations.

Staying meticulous, using testing and validation checks, and following the proven calculations outlined here will produce excellent accuracy in determining available RAP. Please contact me with any questions!

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I'm Steve Axton, a dedicated Asphalt Construction Manager with over 25 years of experience paving the future of infrastructure. My journey with asphalt began by studying civil engineering and learning about core pavement materials like aggregate, binder and additives that compose this durable and versatile substance. I gained hands-on experience with production processes including refining, mixing and transporting during my internships, which opened my eyes to real-world uses on roads, driveways and parking lots. Over the past decades, I have deepened my expertise in asphalt properties like viscosity, permeability and testing procedures like Marshall stability and abrasion. My time with respected construction companies has honed my skills in paving techniques like milling, compaction and curing as well as maintenance activities like crack filling, resurfacing and recycling methods. I'm grateful for the knowledge I've gained about standards from Superpave to sustainability best practices that balance longevity, cost and environmental friendliness. It's been an incredibly rewarding career working with this complex material to build the infrastructure future.