in Vol. 11 - September Issue - Year 2010
Blast Propulsion At The Dutch Army

J. de Blok, H. Mijnhardt (Straaltechniek International), W.A. Berendsen, G. van der Leeden en J.G. Baksteen are standing before a nice piece of work: a just finished CV-90

On several occasions, including the Model Fair in Goes, the CV-90 can be admired up close (Picture archive Surface Techniques)

Exhaust of an engine of an armored vehicle before and after blasting. The drum of 400 liters can process up to 500 pounds simultaneously.

Defence material is severely tested during use (Picture archive Surface Techniques)

Tjakko Brouwer at the drum blast cleaning machine with a rubber belt

The overhead conveyor is a great leap forward in convenience. The doorway is 1500 x 2000 mm and the maximum load of the conveyor is 500 kilos.

 In the Spotlight

Tailormade blast equipment. Checking the work areas gives a good impression of the new machinery. The filters of the blast cabinets, which are of high importance, have a capacity of 1400 cubic meter per hour. The filters at the large wheel blasting installation have a capacity of 10000 cubic meter per hour. For the Rutten wheels, which blast steel shot on the objects, 5000 blasting hours is guaranteed. The advantage of the turbine type used is the speed of the abrasive, which thanks to the clever placement lies a quarter higher than regular turbines of equal diameter, at the same speed and power. Less abrasive is used, but the cleaning is better because of the higher exit speed. Also the consumption of abrasive is lower, because the grit slides into the impellor of the blast wheel. Straight blades can cause more damage to the grit. The machine is equipped with three 320 mm Rutten wheels, directly driven by an 11 kW electric motor. The blast department has a noise maximum of 75 dBa. The exhaust is built in a sound isolating cabinet and the filters are placed inside a bag that allows easy change. The systems are equipped with electro-pneumatic valves and an endless bag at the bottom. The wheel blast machines are equipped with a sensor to prevent the doors from opening when it is operating.

IBL keeps their leading role in expanding outsourcing work

Instandhoudingsbedrijf Landsystemen (IBL, prior Mechanisch Centrale Werkplaats; MCW) located in Leusden, the Netherlands has always been a stronghold of surface treatment. VOM course instructors as well as the magazine Oppervlaktetechnieken (surface treatments) are more than regular visitors. For the theme issue "Kleur" of January 2003 MCW contributed to the article on camouflage techniques. The reorganization of 2006-2007 was not only linked to the refocusing of their own work and subcontracting work, but included also the changing of the company name to Instandhoudingsbedrijf Landsystemen (IBL). Although more and more maintenance is located at Dutch companies, it doesn’t mean there is less invested. To the contrary, the complete blasting department has been modernized recently!

The expansion of the machinery facility with new technologies is the responsibility of the management department. Management chief J. de Blok started in 1984 in work preparation, became workshop chief and he was promoted to chief of tracked vehicles and chief of the business staff department. He has the perfect background to manage the modernization of the machinery facility from his own practical experience. "We had this plan already for several years: Modernizing by purchasing two automatic blasting machines and three manual blasting machines.
Since 2003 we wanted to replace the existing blasting equipment, but because of the impending privatization it wasn’t possible to modernize. This privatization was cancelled in November 2005 but we continued being a part of Dutch Defense, and the original plans of modernizing could be continued. The machinery we had was too old to keep the maintenance and the expenses kept increasing." Chief Acquisition W.A. Berendsen adds. "The working conditions were a critical factor in the decision," as he points out the excessive noise created during the blasting process was a problem.

European tenders

Due to the scale of the investment IBL had to put out to contract the European tender. In the offer the Program Requirements were mentioned. Also the selection and award criteria, as well as the difference of importance of the requirements and criteria were taken into account. With these criteria the offers were assessed. One criterion, for example, is to expect a contractor to be able to implement a project of this magnitude. Therefore every contractor has to prove their credentials and their turnover.

The award of the contract was not made on the basis of lowest price, but on the most economically advantageous tender (EMVI), so that the operating expenses during the lifetime were considered. After the preliminary selection of Straaltechniek International, this information was given to the other possible contractors to give them the opportunity to object to the preliminary award.

More and more an outsourcing knowledge company

An obvious thought is that there is more maintenance needed because of the regular participation in peace missions in countries with rough terrains and landscapes, where the material literally is being sand blasted. De Blok tempers this however. "The army used to be much larger in scale, with several mobile units. Currently we have to be much more flexible, and the use of the material is different in Afghanistan than in the North German Plain for example."

Many components and systems are being offered for repair, but a good comparison is hard to make. MCW used to be a part of the army and was taking care of the maintenance of tracked vehicles and its components in Leusden. The location near Utrecht, the Kromhout Barracks, was taking care of the maintenance of all wheeled vehicles and their components. In 2006 both departments were combined at the Leusden location. Also the number of employees had been reduced, because of the target to maximize the cooperation with the civil industry. Since the establishment of IBL, the company is growing towards a technical expertise company. De Blok: "Therefore we don’t have dozens of motors of one single type, only a limited number: to keep up the knowledge and experience. The other machines will be under maintenance at other companies." Berendsen continues the discussion about the new equipment: "These machines replace the old ones, because it is unwise to hand all maintenance to the civil industry. That may cause stagnation and complications in flexibility." De Blok: "crack research and other treatments are also part of the maintenance process." This occurs at components and spare engines of which the maintenance deliberately is being performed at IBL.

Also the (final) testing is being performed at IBL. A heated engine is fully tested, and the following technical details are measured according to protocol: power, speed, oil, exhaust etc. Micro cracks, corrosion, degree of decarbonation, magnetic, ultrasonic or penetrating crack research: All possible measurements, internal or external are made as necessary. Berendsen: "We monitor when a component has been here and determine the steps needed to have it ready for use."

Availability of technical systems

The discussion naturally goes to World Class Maintenance, the initiative to develop a region – such as the west of Northern Barabant and south of Rotterdam – where maintenance of high tech systems is concentrated. Precisely these logistics and technical services of the technical work itself are matters in which the Netherlands can excel. It also attracts young people as the work is appealing. The value lies not in the job performed, but the rapid deployment and maximum usage of the plant. Berendsen: "We have to undertake enough work ourselves to keep control and knowledge about the outsourced work. We have become a knowledge centre so while other companies are doing most of the actual maintenance we keep a supporting role."

The next subject of importance is the quality of the employees. Training of them was also a criterion in the Program Requirements. Operators and foremen have had training by Straaltechniek International about the systems to control components daily, weekly and monthly. Berendsen: "This was a part of user maintenance, because preventative maintenance is already in the maintenance contract of a supplier.
New staff should always have certain professional qualifications." De Blok: "At this site we have specially skilled and experienced people, old timers in the field. If something breaks down, we first evaluate whether we can do it ourselves. There is also a private maintenance service, a sort of filing cabinet with records of all machinery." Berendsen accompanies: "The best thing is how the men work with it, that's the charm of the work." That will soon be apparent when looking at the working areas.

The employees are the most important

Workplace Employee Tjakko Brouwer has been working for 32 years at Defence. He is happy with the new procedure. "It was well explained and it goes perfectly. The biggest improvement is the overhead conveyor, which makes it possible to walk on components by standing on the ground. This wheel blasting machine replaces an old blast cabinet and is twice the size of the cabinet."

Here too the high standards of dust emission were taken into account and a 5000 cubic meter filter is placed. The blasting itself is done with two 11 kW Rutten Wheels. Brouwer: "Within 5 minutes it is ready." The three manual blasting machines have a work space of 1500 x 1500 x 1500 mm.

After delivery of the new cabinets, there appeared to be a need for better management of the blast hose. Brouwer communicated this with Acquisition and after consultation with Straaltechniek International the following solution was created: "the balansator". This feature is a kind of pulley to have a better control of the blast hose. Brouwer also explains the reason for having three similar cabinets: "For a specific engine type it is necessary to blast with glass beads, otherwise there is a risk the gasket doesn’t close right after blasting too long on the same spot. The gears are blasted with stainless steel grit, not too coarse. We don’t use aluminum oxide for all blasting operations."

Berendsen is pleased with "the way Straaltechniek International delivered the new machinery but also the way they considered the people who have to work with it daily. These employees are the most important." "That is a good thing to hear!" Brouwer says spontaneously.

IBL is becoming a centre for product handling where the machines are doing most of the job. Paint sprayer Ger van der Leeden, once participant in the VOM course Blasting, Pickling, Phosphating, is now learning for MBO Manager Damage Repair at level 4, including administrative and financial management. "At 52 years old I am the grandfather of the class." Still, he prefers to be a practical man. "But this was part of the function when I applied for the job." He has been with Defense since September 2, 1974. "And it is still fun!"

For Information:
Straaltechniek International BV
Postbus 65 - 3300 AB Dordrecht
Bunsenstraat 1 - 3316 GC Dordrecht
The Netherlands
Tel. + 31.78.651.1477
Fax + 31.78.651.1401
E-mail: info@straaltechniek.net

First publication: magazine Oppervlaktetechnieken, April 2010
("Straalaandrijving bij de Landmacht")
Photographs: Coating Kennis Transfer, Gouda, The Netherlands