Belle Chasse, La., based C&C Marine and Repair has opened a new indoor, climate controlled, paint and blast facility. The 83,350-sq.-ft. facility can accommodate barges up to 320'x75'x20' and will be able to blast and paint a standard 30,000-bbl. tank barge or two 10,000-bbl. tank barges in seven-to-10 days.
The fully enclosed, climate-controlled facility is unaffected by inclement weather and allows for uninterrupted operation year-round. “We modified technology that was being used to blast rail cars and containers and have successfully adapted the process to blast barges,” C&C Marine’s owner Tony Cibilich said in a statement. The fully automated blasting robots use steel grit as the blast medium, which is blasted uniformly across the surface of the barge.
There are two robotic blasters, each with two oscillating nozzles that continuously blast the barge from the top and sides. A separate bottom-blasting robot, outfitted with oscillating nozzles, blasts the bottom surface of the barge. Each blasting robot is capable of blasting at a rate of 2,000 sq. ft. per hour. As a result of the speed and efficiency of the fully-automated robotic blasting system, the time to blast a standard inland hopper barge takes one fourth the amount of time as the traditional manual sand blasting method.
“The benefit of blasting and painting in an enclosed, environmentally-controlled facility is tremendous. Not only are you insulated from weather delays and humidity, but you have benefits related to efficiency, cost-savings, employee safety and protection to the environment,” Cibilich said.
The steel grit blast medium also provides a superior surface for paint adhesion and bonding resulting in NACE III inspector verified surface profile readings between 4.5 and 4.8, as opposed to a surface profile reading of 3.0-3.5 from sand or slag medium. The improved profile finish leads to a better paint adhesion to the steel which leads to fewer required paint jobs during the life of the barge, C&C said.
The new facility represents C&C Marine’s continued commitment to adopting new technology and employing best practices, particularly as it relates to employee safety and protecting the environment. The indoor facility prevents overspray, contamination and run-off of paint and blast media into adjacent waterways.
The facility’s state-of-the-art air filtration system collects and encapsulates over 99% of all airborne particulates associated with the blast and paint process. The steel grit blast particles are continually recycled and reused throughout the blasting process. The use of non-toxic steel shot blast media is filtered, separated and re-used approximately 150 times over in subsequent blasting operations before it disintegrates to such a small size that it is removed by the dust filtration system. Moreover, even after the useful life of the steel-shot blast media has been surpassed, the material can be separated and transported to a processing facility where it can be recycled into new blast media for additional use. The result is one of the most environmentally safe blasting alternatives available in the barge and marine industry, C&C said.
“The great thing about this technology is that, in addition to being faster, more efficient, and environmentally safer, it also creates a safer work environment for our employees,” Mike Wade, manager of blasting operations, said.
During the blasting process, operators have the opportunity to oversee and control operations safely from a segregated air-conditioned control room. Additionally, by eliminating the need to erect scaffolding to perform blasting operations, the dangers associated with manually operating a blasting hose at multiple elevations are eliminated.
Finally, the use of non-toxic steel shot blast media is a significant health benefit to the operators and technicians over traditional sand-based blast media.