VOL. 21 November ISSUE YEAR 2020

Cover Page

in Vol. 21 - November Issue - Year 2020
Blasting Operation Efficiency

Chris Prouty, Technical Service Advisor, NAO

Chris Prouty, Technical Service Advisor, NAO

Imagine you buy a new car.  At first, the gas mileage is as good as was advertised on the sticker.  However, as you commute back and forth to work daily for a few months, you notice that you have begun filling up more often, but you have always used the same station and the same fuel since buying the car.  What is the first thing that receives the blame?  The fuel?  Is that the reason for the decreased efficiency?  On the contrary, we more often identify the issue as being something to do with the car.  We check the air pressure in the tires, the air filter, change the oil, anything except the fuel because we know that is not likely the culprit.  However, in blasting operations, when efficiency goes down, the blasting media is often on the receiving end of the blame, even though the same media has been used since before the issue has started.  More often than not, there is something going on with the machine that causes this decreased efficiency.  For that reason, when looking at the total cost of the blasting operation, one should consider the cost of maintaining the machine more so than the abrasive cost.  Maintenance can account for a large percentage of the total cost of abrasive blasting, so staying on top of the maintenance cost can be a greater money saver than any other aspect of the operation. 

In abrasive blasting, there are many factors that come in to play when it comes to the cost of blasting a single unit, whether a unit is a single item or a measured length of parts.  Keeping control of these factors is key to keeping the cost per unit low.  However, many do not realize how important each of these factors can be.  It is significantly more than just calculating the abrasive used per unit.  The total cost analysis should incorporate the abrasive, wear parts, maintenance, electricity, labor, re-cleans, and any other cost that can be associated with blasting one unit.  This can then be considered the operational cost of abrasive blasting and by tightly controlling each component, your company has the potential to save significant money over a project’s life. 

Controlling the individual components of your blasting operation is not hard once you fully understand the equipment and how to spot potential costly issues before they become compounded.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that inspections of the equipment are performed daily, weekly, and monthly in order to stay on top of the preventative maintenance.  

While it is tempting to ignore small, seemingly minor issues in the interest of cost savings, it is more important and cost effective, to address the issue while it is minor.  This is especially true in wheel blasting where most of the operation is closed off to observation while the machine is running, and a small issue can quickly become a larger, more expensive issue.  A good example of this can be a worn control cage.  At first thought, it is still doing the job of allowing abrasive to the wheel and slight wear might not seem like an issue.  But when you understand how the blast pattern is affected by the control cage opening, a larger opening means the blast pattern is no longer focused and could be blasting away areas of the blast chamber liners, leading to premature wear of the liner and then holes in the machine.  A fifteen-minute repair just turned into hours of downtime.  On top of that, efficiency during blasting is lost and therefore, time and money are also lost.
Extra wear on blasting room shielding and blasting wheel housing
Extra consumption of abrasive
Loss of blasting efficiency (= non-quality)

20% of the hot-spot area located on shielding cause:
+10% abrasive consumption
-15% efficiency
+5% extra-wear of blasting room shielding
+20-25% on the total blasting cost for an 8 x 22 kW wheel machine

Having maintenance perform these daily checks and repairs will greatly reduce the risk of compounded problems forming.  However, certain limitations of your maintenance staff, such as time, knowledge, and availability, can cause them to need to overlook small issues in favor of more urgent areas in the company’s operation.  Therefore, having a trusted third party as a partner can be of great benefit.  Recognizing the need for these partnerships and the value it would bring to our many customers, W Abrasives launched the WCare initiative in 2018.  W Abrasives employs technical advisors around the world who are thoroughly trained in both the machinery and abrasive aspects of the blasting operation.  The purpose of the WCare program is to partner with your team in order to maximize the efficiency of your blasting operation.  

How W Abrasives WCare works:

The primary component of the WCare program is the consultation/inspection.  This is a multipoint inspection and analysis of the abrasive conducted to identify current or potential issues. A full report is then generated and sent to your team. This report is useful in prioritizing maintenance and making adjustments that could lead to costs savings as well as enhanced cleaning of parts. 

The second component of the WCare program is designed to provide customers with assistance in the maintenance and repair of the blasting machinery.  Recognizing that a company’s maintenance staff is relatively small and often times machine repairs can be rather time-consuming, W Abrasives assembled a team of trusted technicians who specialize in blast equipment to provide assistance when needed, such as during shutdowns or emergency repairs and even preventative maintenance.  Areas that the WCare team can assist with are:

Consulting: W Abrasives teams up with customers to offer customized advice to improve blasting parameters. They audit customers’ processes and equipment to propose adapted solutions.

Testing: Whether it is for a new process or solve a specific problem their expertise is at customers’ service to find the right solution without disrupting the production line.

Training: W Abrasives helps to increase knowledge on blasting processes and operations through on-site and practical trainings tailor made according to customers’ needs.

Optimization: Through operational, mechanical checks of your systems and results measurement on your products, W Abrasives helps to increase efficiency while reducing costs.

Maintenance: W Abrasives maintains, repairs and provides service equipment with scheduled interventions. Those services also include parts replacements and annual service contracts.

Machine-Upgrade: Dedicated to upgrade system or add specific equipment to an existing installation. W Abrasives is ready to guide and help customers to choose the most efficient solution.

The final, and perhaps the most powerful component of the WCare program is the Cost Savings Analysis.  Through the use of a proprietary analysis program, known as WA Cost, customers can see the potential savings based on the recommendations made by the W Abrasives Technical Advisor, EVEN BEFORE THOSE CHANGES ARE IMPLEMENTED.  The WA Cost program is designed incorporate all aspects of the operation, from labor to maintenance and everything in between.  It then can be adjusted to show an increase in efficiency and/or a reduction in cost and show real dollar savings potential.

When you understand the factors that influence the cost of abrasive blasting, it becomes easier to control these costs.  Having a well-structured maintenance program with a regular inspection schedule is key to getting control over these factors.  If you can stay on top of the little issues, the bigger, more expensive issues are less likely to appear, or at least, surprise you.  To help customers stay on top of these issues, W Abrasives launched WCare, a comprehensive program designed to be the customer’s partner in the blasting operation.  Through consulting, testing, training, optimization, maintenance and even machine rebuilding/replacement, W Abrasives has the tools and manpower to provide customers with a one stop source for their abrasive blasting needs. 

For Information: Winoa
528 Avenue de Savoie
38570 Le Cheylas, France
Tel. +33.682.300-1885
E-mail: Chris.Prouty@wabrasives.com