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How Sponge Media Is Being Used in Rebuild Facilities

Many advanced Certified Rebuild Centers (CRCs) and Heavy Equipment Refurbishment facilities are turning away from regular abrasive blasting and/or high pressure washing during their re-manufacturing process. Increasingly, these centers are focusing on cleaning the equipment using Sponge-Jet blasting prior to disassembly.

At rebuild centers that have integrated Sponge-Jet into their remanufacturing process, machines and engines are brought in fresh from the field. They are blasted with Sponge Media™, removing debris, paint, grease, oil, and grime allowing quicker access for mechanics. For one CRC, their process includes giving dirty equipment “Sponge Baths” prior to disassembly; this practice has led to a 20% reduction in disassembly time per unit compared to other cleaning processes.

This concept is most easily envisioned by picturing a cap head screw packed with mud, hardened grease and layers of paint from years of service. The technician working on dissembling the engine cannot fully insert the wrench into the cap head screw. A partially inserted wrench can cause screw heads to strip and cause unscheduled delays. Alternatively, the tech must spend time manually cleaning out each screw head, slowing down the process and causing margin loss for the company.

Because Sponge Blasting is a dry process, no water is used prior to equipment disassembly. Refurbishers that use water in their cleaning procedure must deal with containing runoff. For equipment that is used in mines or in other heavy industrial environments, this runoff can contain hazardous heavy metals, grease, oil, toxins, or radioactive material. Many municipalities test storm drains for contaminated runoff leading to hefty fines for polluters.

Blasting Rooms for Sponge Media share common features with many ordinary grit blasting setups with some additional advantages. Typically steel grit blast rooms have built in reclamation systems for gathering and recycling used grit. Sponge-Jet blast rooms can be similarly built with often less investment on the grit recovery process. The overall cost of building an integrated blast and reclamation system is usually much less expensive than comparable systems using ordinary abrasives.

At other facilities, Sponge Blasting is being integrated into existing blast rooms. In most cases preexisting dust collection systems are more than adequate. The compressed air CFM requirements for blasting are usually comparable to ordinary abrasives, so compressor upgrades are typically not needed.

CRCs turning to Sponge-Jet have seen improvements in health and safety, efficiency, and environmental impact while lowering operational costs. Watch the video below to see Sponge-Jet integrated into a Caterpillar Certified Rebuild Centers.

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