C&C Marine Opens Indoor Painting and Robotic Blasting Facility
C&C Marine and Repair of Belle Chasse, Louisiana has announced the opening of a new indoor, climate-controlled paint and blast facility. The 80,000 square foot facility can accommodate barges up to 320’x75’x20’ and can blast and paint a standard 30,000 barrel tank barge or two 10,000 barrel tank barges in 7-10 days. The fully enclosed, climate-controlled environment 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,” says C&C Marine and Repair’s owner, Tony Cibilich. The fully automated blasting robots use steel grit as the blast medium, which is blasted uniformly across the surface of the barge.
The facility's enclosure houses 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 square feet 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,” says Cibilich.
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.
The new facility represents C&C Marine and Repair’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 result is one of the most environmentally safe blasting alternatives available in the barge and marine industry.
“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,” says Mike Wade, C&C's manager of blasting operations. During the blasting process, operators oversee and control operations safely from an 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 offers significant health benefits to the operators and technicians over traditional sand-based blast media.
With the first few barges completed, the new blast and paint facility is another example of C&C Marine and Repair’s continuing commitment to remain a technological leader and innovator in the marine fabrication and repair industry.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.