The instructions were simple, but the task was anything but…
Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA) needed 8,400 square feet of tape removed from about forty different areas of their runway, and contracted Gordon Williams from Affordable Asphalt Maintenance to execute the project. Challenges presented themselves immediately. The airport desperately needed to keep the project run time to a minimum. An occupied runway, for obvious reasons drastically diminishes airport operation efficiency. That in mind, ROA and Mr. Williams had to figure out a way to get in, get the job done, and get out – in one overnight shot. Given the scope of the project, this was a nearly impossible goal.
“It was an unusual job, with a lot a detail work,” said Williams. “Typically, you’re talking six guys and six days.”
Six days worth of work, in less than twelve hours. Those were the instructions. A typical job of this scope would involve sandblasting and grinders, which work, but have significant drawbacks. As the operator moves the machine over the unwanted tape, the grinder pulverizes the tape, but also the asphalt, leaving a hefty mess to clean and ruining the profile of the runway surface. This meant that laying new lines would be difficult to do effectively, let alone timely.
“Grinders are messy, and they’re slow,” Williams told us.
But Gordon Williams and Affordable Asphalt Maintenance had a card up their sleeve. That card was a Stripe Hog Waterblasting System along with its’ seasoned operator Mr. Paul Dubois. Paul showed up with Waterblasting Technologies’ new SH8000R. Although Stripe Hog Machines have been around for a good while, this new unit features a water recycling system which allows the unit to reuse the dirty water collected from the blasting operations. This feature saves so much time by eliminating both the need to dump dirty water in a suitable location, as well as make time consuming trips to a fire hydrant to fill with fresh water. This recycling feature is a relatively new introduction to the roadway and runway marking removal industry and is only found on a Stripe Hog. Williams and the Affordable Asphalt team were optimistic, but a little skeptical initially. After all, this wasn’t exactly something they were used to. “This was one truck and one driver,” he recalled.
But Paul wasn’t skeptical. Knowing the power and efficiency that lay within the SH8000R, Paul Dubois and his one truck were prepared to complete the job within the tight time parameters. The SH8000R is the world’s first ultra-high pressure mobile water blasting system with water recycling on-board. It features a double blasting head that would allow Paul to eradicate the runway tape quickly and with no mess. Unlike the carbide teeth of grinders, Paul’s operation would leave the surface intact with no damage and ready for new lines. What’s more, the unit is self-contained, and would provide enough water to complete the project in one take.
“They really emphasized the fact that they needed to complete the project in a single night.” Dubois said. “I told them ‘We will gain so much time by not needing additional water.”
Dubois kept that promise. From 8:30 p.m. until nearly 7:00 a.m. the following morning, Paul ran the SH8000R without interruption, logging a total of 9.7 hours up-time on the truck’s pump. The final results were completed within the given time line and surpassed everyone’s expectations.
We spoke with Mr. Williams after the project was completed and asked him to summarize the final outcome. His reply was simple but genuine. “Perfectly clean and so fast” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
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