The life of a SprayWorks Spraybot is an interesting one: the time-saving, product-conserving, environmentally friendly machine is pushed around, fed all sorts of coating materials, and expected to do it all over again the next day on just one gallon (4 L) of gas. And yet, day after day the automated spraying device keeps on task, saving contractors and clients valuable time and resources while also helping reduce the environmental impact.
SprayWorks’ proprietary creation is developing a loyal following across the country with 40 of the automated spray applicators currently in use, including SprayWorks’ recent project in the company’s home state of Ohio.
When Butler County weighed coating options for their new box and beam bridge, ultimately officials settled on a spray-applied waterproofing membrane (SAM). It was to be applied by John Davidson, project manager of SprayWorks Equipment Group, LLC, and his crew.
SprayWorks, based in Canton, Ohio, serves the spray polyurethane foam (SPF) and coatings industries internationally and also works with customers who are interested in starting an SPF or spray coatings business. They provide hands-on spray and safety training, custom mobile spray rigs, and technical support, and they guide customers in choosing the equipment that will help them achieve their business goals.
Considering the traffic and weather abuse a bridge undergoes in its long life, the SprayWorks team had to meet some challenges when working on the Butler County bridge. According to John Davidson, “Concrete bridge deck deterioration is one of the most extensive maintenance problems affecting the service life of bridges.” And considering the substantial investment in a new bridge, the county wanted the best possible solution to protect the structure. As Davidson explained, “Each bridge surface is designed for a particular load capacity; however, over time, an increased volume of load-bearing vehicles may place additional strain on a bridge, which can contribute to a faster surface deterioration than may have been anticipated.”
Saving Time and Money
Prepping for the 2,988 square feet (278 m²), day-long project included shot blasting and air cleaning the concrete, then sealing the surface with a fast setting sealer (with a 15 minute cure time) with brush rollers. The SprayWorks crew applied the SAM to the Frazee Road bridge with the Spraybot at a rate of 3,000 square feet (279 m²) per hour. Using the Spraybot offered an added advantage of spraying a seven-foot-wide (2 m) area of coating evenly and consistently, thereby reducing the amount of wasted material. Davidson noted, “Since it applies material consistently, every time the thickness requirements are always achieved.” Plus, the uniform, seamless finished look of the product itself makes it aesthetically pleasing.
Choosing the D.S. Brown SAM product proved beneficial for both the client and contractor thanks to SprayWorks’ existing relationship with the vendor as well as the membrane system’s excellent track record with similar projects. Davidson noted, “With a brand new bridge, this box beam construction made it the bridge of choice and D.S. Brown’s product the membrane of choice. By using the Spraybot, this is the best way to install the most uniform coating, since we’re applying wider widths of product, better coating at joints and seams, and requiring fewer overlapping passes.” The system in turn utilizes less product, saves on time and manpower, and has a built-in wind screen to keep the product from entering the surrounding environment.
After the SAM was applied, the crew applied a tack coat (hot tar) and then finished with a final coat of asphalt.
Working on the Butler County Frazee Road bridge project meant awareness of the surrounding local ground water, making potential environmental hazards a heightened concern for all parties involved. However, using the Spraybot helped to eliminate any worry with contaminating that water. “Since material is more conserved using the Spraybot, there is less waste for the environment,” Davidson explained. “Moreover, since the newly applied SAM on the bridge’s surface is by far longer-lasting, there is no need to re-surface the road on an annual or bi-annual basis. This way, fewer applications mean a lower environmental impact.”
In terms of safety, while no atypical concerns had to be addressed, proper training is an essential part of any SprayWorks project. Davidson added, “Even though the Spraybot is relatively simple to use, it is strongly recommended that operators be trained because of unfamiliarity with this new type of equipment and in order to gain maximum benefit and safety.” The safety equipment used included full-face masks, class 2 visibility wear, disposable suits with hoods and booties, and gloves. Ultimately all parties involved were pleased with the project, which was completed on time with exemplary results.
SprayWorks continues to manufacture Spraybots for national distribution and looks forward to utilizing the innovative sprayer in numerous projects as well as working with a number of coatings vendors to obtain mechanical specifications for products applied by the machine. A recent multi-year project in Missouri known as Safe and Sound saw the rehabilitation of 227 bridges using the Spraybot for coatings application. Davison and his team are proud of the contributions their invention has made around the country and look forward to the company’s growing success.