Hydroblasting Unit Does Double Duty

Twin Force hydroblasting pumps provide power, efficiency and operational flexibility.

Hydroblasting Unit Does Double Duty
Smith Industrial Service’s trailer-mounted Twin Force hydroblasting unit features two Jetstream pumps each powered by a 325 hp John Deere diesel engine.

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When industrial cleaning contractors need to hydroblast evaporators, boilers, pipelines and the like during scheduled plant shutdowns, less is more — as in less equipment to clutter up limited floor space. Moreover, speed and reliability are critical, as one slow-moving contractor or machine breakdown can create a domino effect of costly delays while derailing the chances of repeat business.

Those factors aren’t an issue at Smith Industrial Service, thanks to Twin Force hydroblasting pumps made by Jetstream of Houston (a subsidiary of Federal Signal Corp.). Based in Mobile, Alabama, SIS serves customers along the Gulf Coast from Alabama to Florida and Georgia, and the company’s two Twin Force units play an important role in maximizing on-the-job efficiency.

“The Twin Force pumps provide us with maximum convenience and flexibility,” says Wade Glasscock, the vice president of SIS, which was founded in 1969 and employs nearly 200 people. “We bought our first one in 2014 and bought another one this year. It was a no-brainer.”

Glasscock is very familiar with Jetstream products, as SIS already owns about 40 of the manufacturer’s 4200J water blasters, featuring 325 hp diesel engines. But the trailer-mounted Twin Force units, which feature two Jetstream pumps each powered by a 325 hp John Deere diesel engine, provide an added dimension of convenience and flexibility.

To comprehend the advantages the machines provide, it’s first necessary to understand the role SIS plays in maintenance shutdowns at plants, including paper mills, utilities, oil refineries and chemical factories. “Whenever we pull into one of these job sites, the critical path during those first few days of the shutdown is cleaning the boilers,” Glasscock explains.

Before SIS bought the Twin Force units, it relied on another brand of 600 hp hydroblasting pumps, which crews would park outside a plant when the boiler cleaning was complete. “But now we can use both Twin Force pumps simultaneously to clean the boilers with 650 hp, then disconnect the two pumps from each other and use them independently to clean, say, two evaporator bodies at the same time (with 325 hp each),” Glasscock says.

In another application, SIS crews could hook up a lancing machine to one pump and clean a heat exchanger in a paper mill, using pressure and flow of 40,000 psi and 11 gpm, while using the other pump to clean so-called “green liquor lines,” utilizing completely different levels of pressure and flow, such as 20,000 psi at 25 gpm, Glasscock explains.

As such, the Twin Force units consolidate the amount of equipment needed to do jobs, which means fewer units and trucks cluttering up plant space that’s already congested with other contractors and plant personnel, racing to get work finished on time.

“Everything we do is considered a critical-path job, so we have to get in and get out, without getting in everyone’s way,” he says. “Real estate in these plants is at a premium, and with the Twin Force units, we can bring in a tighter package and utilize each one like two machines.”

Moreover, the Twin Force units — which often run around the clock until a job is completed — are more fuel-efficient; they use about 14 gph as opposed to about 30 gph for the other larger pumps. That reduces operating costs and enables the company to bid more competitively, Glasscock points out.

SIS crews primarily use lancing equipment made by StoneAge to clean boilers, evaporators and heat exchangers, then rely on vacuum trucks made by Guzzler Manufacturing (also a division of Federal Signal Corp.) and Vacall to clean up the debris. In all, SIS owns about 40 vac trucks. Cutting through built-up materials requires considerable hydroblasting power, but the Twin Force hydroblasters are up to the task, capable of generating pressure up to 40,000 psi and flow of up to 120 gpm.

In these types of applications, SIS crews use high pressure to fracture the rock-hard materials, then low-flow volume to clear away the resulting debris. This approach conserves water, usually obtained from hydrants. Conservation is important not only environmentally, but financially, he says.

“We’re talking about deposits that are as hard as concrete or harder,” Glasscock notes. “If we’re cleaning an 8-inch pipe, for instance, it might be tuberculated to the point that it’s a 4-inch pipe (in terms of inside capacity). We end up taking out several tons of material.

“A big evaporator body in a paper mill might contain upwards of 2,000 2-inch-diameter tubes, and there might be five or six bodies in a mill,” he continues. “So when the mill shuts down, there could be as many as 10,000 to 12,000 tubes to be cleaned, with most of them plugged solid. But with the Twin Force units, we can restore the integrity of those pipes to like-new condition.”


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