A state-of-the-art Wheelabrator blast and paint line allowed barge manufacturer Brownsville Marine Products (BMP) to double production and make annual savings of $400,000.
A suite of radical improvements to the line helped get BMP ready for 21st century production – on its site just south of Pittsburgh which looks back on 75 years of marine vessel construction.
Wheelabrator designed and installed the new horizontal blast and paint line (or ‘preservation line’), enabling BMP to continue to deliver high quality vessels at competitive prices for decades to come.
Tim Scheib, CEO at Brownsville Marine Products, said: “We’ve been working with Wheelabrator for a couple of years, to look after and gradually improve our existing equipment, until we reached a tipping point with the old line. We asked the team from Wheelabrator to help us design and install a state-of-the-art line that meets our ambitious standards – and will do so for decades to come.
“We are very pleased with what has been achieved and it’s great to see marine vessel production thrive again at this location, thanks to investment in latest technology and good people. We are all proud of the quality of our barges and proud to be continuing a long heritage at this site.”
The new preservation line usually runs about 10 hours per day to address all of BMP’s production requirements, accommodate sudden peaks in demand and allow time for maintenance. A marked change to the old machine, which had to run three shifts a day to meet output targets.
The project in brief:
• The new line is fully automated and can accommodate steel plate as well as structural elements of 12’ / 3.65m width, and up to 40’ / 12m length.
• The blast process achieves a surface profile before coating between 1.5 and 3 mils, providing a perfect anchor for paint and ensuring maximum coating reliability, which is key to preventing corrosion and extending vessel life.
• Tight control of Dry Film Thickness delivers a paint transfer efficiency of more than 75%, resulting in a considerable reduction in paint consumption.
• The line has a footprint of 35’ / 10.7m by 218’ / 66.5m at a height of 24’ / 7.3m and is equipped with 8 EZEFIT blast wheels (with a tip velocity of 310ft/sec).
• The line processes plate at up to 10ft / 3m per minute (speed is variable between 4ft /1.2m and 10ft/min, usually running at 8ft / 2.4m/min) and uses abrasive steel shot that is automatically recycled.
Jay Benito at Wheelabrator said: “We are incredibly proud of this installation, which allowed the facility to both increase production and save $400,000 a year on paint through improved paint transfer efficiency. Keeping the production of high quality vessels competitive at a heritage site is a great feeling!”
Other measures taken to improve processes and reduce costs along the blast and paint line included:
- Adding automated airwash separators, which clean and recycle used abrasive, the quality of which is monitored daily.
- Installing an automated abrasive adder, which introduces new abrasive to the cycle as needed. This means abrasive never has to be ‘changed’.
- Including dust collectors both for the blast system and the paint system, which ensure clean and safe operations.
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