In 1999, Airblast was contacted by an agricultural machinery manufacturer named Ktwo, looking for a surface preparation and finishing facility to support their growing business. In the years that followed, both Airblast and Ktwo would go on to expand their offerings, update their technology, and improve their products – establishing strong positions in their respective industries. Neither company knew at the time that their paths would cross again as they each continued to grow and evolve over the next two decades.
Ktwo’s managing director Terry Kelloway had the following to say:
Twenty years after our first meeting, it’s great to be working with Airblast again and to see how far their products have come – an evolution that reflects our own. I look forward to seeing where both companies continue to develop from here.
In 2019, twenty years after our initial discussions, Airblast is still working with Ktwo – alongside many others in the agricultural sector. The blast facility that Airblast originally installed is still going strong and has helped support the company’s continued expansion. All the while, the sophistication of Ktwo’s agricultural equipment has continued to increase in step with Airblast’s own innovations. When the time came to take their in-house blasting and painting facilities to the next level, K-two again reached out to Airblast.
Ktwo acquired an agricultural trailer manufacturer to meet increased demand and expanded to 80,000 sq ft of industrial floor space. In addition, a new facility in Southampton was to be equipped with a new state-of-the-art blast room and paint application machinery.
To keep blast room installation as quick and simple as possible, Airblast developed a pitless system. While some providers require that the factory floor be excavated to create a lowered section to install the blast room, Airblast’s lightweight structures can be installed on any factory floor. Modifications such as excavation of a factory floor are often impossible in rented premises – and even where permission isn’t necessary, excavation can be both time-consuming and costly. Airblast blast rooms do not require these modifications, making them a much more convenient and economical option for Ktwo.
The new blast room uses Airblast’s unique Pressure Hold Blast Pot – a modern evolution of the traditional blast pot. This blast pot uses a new deadman system to stop abrasive and air being delivered to the nozzle but maintains pressure in the machine, reducing valve wear and abrasive waste. In tests, the Airblast Pressure Hold Pot utilises 20% more of the abrasive in the blast machine than non-pressure hold models (abrasive that is generally wasted during the start and stop procedure), meaning Ktwo can look forward to more efficient blasting that saves money.
To keep productivity high, Airblast recommended hardened steel grit for surface preparation. This angular abrasive provides a rapid cutting action, delivering maximum durability and impact energy transfer. Because it doesn’t break down as quickly as other grit types, it can be recycled repeatedly and keeps the dust to a minimum for excellent visibility in the blast room.
Airblast also upgraded Ktwo’s existing dust collection system from a filter bag solution to an Air Pulse Cartridge Filter. The current gold standard in dust collection, the Airblast Air Pulse Cartridge Filter system collects dust in cylindrical cartridges that contain a large filtration surface area.
A compact electrical unit monitors and displays the pressure differential across the cartridge. Unlike less sophisticated systems that pulse regularly – regardless of necessity – the Airblast unit is programmed to clean the cartridges only when a predetermined pressure differential has been reached. This smart cleaning system helps to prolong the life of the cartridges by eliminating unnecessary pulse cleans, thereby saving Ktwo money on premature, avoidable filter cartridge replacements.
A good abrasive recovery system is essential for minimising both costs and downtime. At the time of the original installation, Ktwo opted for a Vaculift media recovery system with a bag filter. In blast rooms with a Vaculift system, the operator manually sweeps abrasive to the recovery point, from which it is blown up to a catch box for dust removal. The lighter dust is transported to a dust collector, while heavier contaminants are caught in a screen. This system ensured that Ktwo’s abrasive media could be cleaned and returned to the blast machine.
While this was the ideal solution at the time, advances in technology and the expansion of Ktwo business presented the opportunity to introduce a more advanced recovery system in 2019. As a result, Airblast provided the latest evolution of its media recovery system, the Airflex Recovery Floor. The mode of abrasive recovery is an automatic full-floor system that continuously recovers media, so the operator doesn’t have to, reducing downtime.
The Airblast Airflex Recovery Floor has a series of flexible scraper blades at intervals. The blades rest against galvanised steel combs, which give them enough strength to push the abrasive forward. On the return stroke, the comb passes through the abrasive, and the scraper blade passes over it. This back-and-forth motion transports the abrasive to a return channel, following which it is moved to an elevator and grit wash.
To help our customers focus on what they do best, Airblast now offers a selection of fixed-cost maintenance plans for its blast booths. These plans give customers valuable peace of mind when it comes to replacement components and repairs. Also, by taking the time and stress out of blast room maintenance, Airblast can help companies like Ktwo to stay productive and reduce downtime.
Ktwo was the first of many UK agricultural machinery manufacturers to reach out to Airblast in search of surface preparation and finishing facilities. Airblast director Jon Cook had the following to say:
On the twentieth anniversary of our first meeting, it is gratifying to look back and appreciate the trajectories of two British companies whose hard work and innovative thinking have resulted in continued success and growth. The key technological advancements made by both companies not only act as milestones on our individual journeys, they have also moved our respective industries forward – and we are confident that will continue to be the case in the future.