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Archive for April, 2015

Lean and Mean: RemoveFaster Headlines – May 2015

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

RemoveFaster News Headlines

Lean Processes and Highway Bill Update

Headlines to Help you Remove Faster – May 2015

This May, lets talk “Lean,” and remove all of the unnecessary waste so that only “value” for which you are willing to pay for is created. Lean Staff, Lean Huddle, Lean Desk, Lean Surfaces, and Lean Government. Well, the last one is a stretch, but scroll down to read how you can influence passing a long-term highway bill. Anyway, with May having the ‘leanest’ name of any month, here’s our thoughts:

Lean Staff? – Starting January, 2016 those with 50+ employees have to deal with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which is a potentially big expense for employers that don’t already offer ACA-compliant health care options. And, there are other regulations that kick in at 50+ employees. As you approach having 45 employees, has this made you think twice about going above 50? Has it stalled your growth? Or, have you outsourced to stay below 50?

lean and mean


Lean Huddle – California-based Walters & Wolf designs, fabricates, and installs amazing glass interior and exterior walls. With 900 union employees, two years ago, their president, Nick Kocelj, made no excuses as to why they couldn’t fundamentally transform their company, and since then, has driven unbelievable performance in their industry using Lean. Check out their YouTube video and go to the 24:40 mark to see a couple of minutes of their daily huddle, and then to 29:00 to check out their simple solution.


Lean Desk – Kaizen foam simple visual organizing desk system:

lean desk


Lean Surfaces – By eliminating all the unnecessary steps in creating the ideal surface structure for new coatings to stay in place is a lean solution. We have borrowed the idea of identifying textures created on asphalt or concrete using simple surface-preparation equipment. The designed profile system starts at SP1 (smooth) and ends at SP 10 (rough). Each progressively rougher textures are better suited for assuring thicker coating systems remain in place longer.

surface profiles

You can learn more about the profile system by starting here. What is your opinion on using this system to best identify the ideal substrate for the coating work you will complete? Would you like to see a chart best represented as a pictorial image, or as a 3-D pad? What are the best surface characteristics that you are looking for, and how would you objectively identify them? We encourage your opinions to help make your removal and installation process lean for you.


Lean Government – Mr. Smith goes to Washington. SMITH Manufacturing founder Steven Smith just returned from Washington with fellow ATSSA PAC members. They were on Capitol Hill to help educate lawmakers on the benefits of a long-term Highway Trust Fund for roadway safety infrastructure devices and services. A sustainable HTF benefits everyone.

Our roadway system, once the envy of the world and the engine of our economic might, now ranks outside the world’s top 20. This is unacceptable!

The federal government plays a fundamental role in investing in our nation’s highway and transit system to serve passenger travel, interstate commerce and national defense. Unlike most other government programs, the Highway Trust Fund programs historically have been funded entirely by fuel taxes and truck fees paid by those who use and benefit from our national highway system. However, the user fees, which were last increased in 1993, continue to be insufficient to meet the nation’s needs and will run out this legislative session.

capitol building

Steven Smith worked with fellow ATSSA members in meeting with Congressional leaders and their legislative aids to immediately find a long-term sustainable solution, and not simply extend the current program which is far to inadequate to keep up with our nation’s needs.

Funding for bigger, brighter, and bountiful pavement markings, signage, rumble strips and guard-rails on our nation’s roadways is vital to assuring that we can regain our economic lead, and protect our citizens when traveling on federal, state and local roads.

Steven met with supporters of the highway bill – Rep. Lou Barleta (R-PA), Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), along with the US DOT Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez. Afterwards, they visited Capitol Hill and met at the offices of Rep. Ron Desantis (R-FL), Rep. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Sen. Bill Nelson (D FL), and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

We discussed how finding a long-term funding solution impacts everyone’s investment decisions, from buying new equipment to hiring new employees. Without long-term funding, there is no long-term planning and growth. We were encouraged to learn that they rely on organizations like ATSSA, and stakeholders like SMITH to be their information resources when making voting decisions.

Going forward, I will continue to reach out regularly to my congressional leaders encouraging them to take action towards a sustainable solution for the financial future of the HTF. I will continue to work with ATSSA’s government relations team, led by Nathan Smith. If you want to learn more about how HTF effects you, please feel free to contact me, or click here to read more.


Lean on SMITH – Read our newsletter, speak to your SMITH Representative, and contact Steven Smith anytime with your toughest surface-preparation problems. We know your removal is hard work, and want to do everything we can to help make it faster and easier for you.


Drum & Rotary vs Shot or Water for Surface-Prep Work

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Drum & Rotary vs. Shot or Water for Surface-Prep Work

Water, shot, or sand blasting are common surface-prep methods for (1) removing binders, or (2) preparing existing surfaces for the application of new coatings. Although water and shot blasting are popular for surface-prep work, they may not be the best tools for preparing pavement or flooring surfaces.

Consideration must be given to health and environmental costs whenever these tools are selected and used. 

Not only is clean water is required for water blasting, but when this high-pressure water is mixed with the binders in the surface, it can drive these toxins in and contaminate ground water. Steel shot becomes FOD on airfields, and can be difficult to contain on uneven surfaces. Workers that are exposed to respirable crystalline silica through sandblasting must wear protective gear, as well as protect others in the job vicinity.  

What are the alternative to water and shot that can obtain the correct CSP or SP surface profile on concrete or asphalt surfaces?

This article examines the use of new drum-style or rotary-style mechanical eradication equipment versus traditional blasting equipment on Airports, Highways, Bridges, Residential, Factory floors, roads, steel hulls, decks and tanks. The drum and rotary style surfacers, together with the right cutter tooling and application process, can leave the final surface in an ideal profile and sound condition for any new coating, binder or overlay application. These machines when combined with HEPA dust extractors are a cost-effective and reliable alternative surface prep method to blasting.

Airport Applications:

Traditionally, water, sand and shot-blasting are processes used for surface preparation. Now, professional contractors are using drum-style scarifiers and rotary-style erasers with new cutter removal tools and application processes to replace expensive blasters, and are able to reduce the cost while improving surface profile textures and safety appearance.


Surface Texturing

A SMITH scarifier, outfitted with a fine Flail-it removal drum assembly – and operating in the cutter-impact-zone consistently, called SMITHing – provides the right frictional properties by enhancing surface texture to promote smoother landings and take-offs. SMITHing with the right SP1 to SP10 surface profile prior to applying durable coatings on a clean, dry, sound surface will promote longer coating life at less cost than another surface preparation process.

Stripe Removal

To prevent sharp-edge ghost lines or grooving of surfaces, a traditional drum-style scarifier may only be used to remove thick markings without the cutters contacting the underlying substrate. Any remaining thin coatings are then removed using a rotary eraser to leave a bevel-edge surface finish which prevents deep surface scarring and water pooling. Multiple shallow-cut passes work best when working on undulating surfaces when markings are applied at carious thicknesses. The use of dry removal applications with dust collection vacuum systems allows for re-striping to occur immediately after the removal process.

Rubber Removal

Traditionally, water and shot blasting can be effective in removing rubber and other contaminants from runway touchdown locations. In many cases, removing contaminants with a combination of a drum-style scarifier outfitted with Strip-it or Finish-it cutters in a fine or medium set-up pattern, depending upon rubber thickness, will improve the surface frictional properties, as well as reduce application costs vs. traditional applications.


Bridge and Highway Applications:

Professional contractors are now using a variety of drum-style scarifiers and rotary-style erasers outfitted with new cutter removal tools while operating using new corrective processes to replace expensive blasters on bridge and highway applications for surface preparation requirements.


Surface Preparation

The use of a SMITH skid-attachment combination scarifiers/planers/shavers can be used to surface prep, while reducing the effect of micro-cracking when the surfaces are prepared in multiple steps. Using a variety of cutter drums, from planing, milling, and scarification to diamond shaving, the surface can be prepared without weakening the structure, which could lead to failures due to freeze-thaw cycles and shearing traffic cycles and loads. Using the SMITHing process, while removing correctly in the ‘cutter impact zone,’ reduces prep costs and micro-fracturing for safer, lasting bridges and highways.

Road Regeneration and Rubber Removal

Instead of shot, sand or water-blasting or as an initial step prior to blasting, the use of rotary and drum-style mechanical eradicators is known to be highly effective when cleaning and improving the macro and micro surface imperfections. These applications help to prolong the life of bridges and roadway surfaces, with minimal traffic disruption and cost.

Stripe Removal

To prevent sharp-edge ‘ghost’ lines or grooved surfaces, a traditional drum-style scarifier may only be used to remove thick markings without the cutters contacting the underlying substrate. Any remaining thin coatings are then removed using a rotary eraser, leaving a bevel-edge surface finish which prevents deep surface scarring and water pooling.   Multiple shallow-cut passes work best on undulating surfaces when markings are applied at various thicknesses. The use of dry removal applications with dust-collection vacuum systems allows for re-striping to occur immediately.


Residential Concrete Applications:

Surface preparation can now be cost-effective when residential applications start SMITHing with drum and rotary style eradicators, instead of expensive shot-blasting equipment. All SMITH equipment is shrouded with dust collection ports so dust can be collected during the process for a cleaner, safer job site.


Decorative Cuts

Decorative score cuts and artificial grout lines can enhance stained floors. Traditionally, a single blade is used to make the very shallow cutting depths, under 1 1/4″. A SMITH drum-style scarifier outfitted with stacked diamond blades (up to 15″ wide) can be used for a more precise and architecturally improved applications. Add a vacuum system and it’s all dust-free!

Garage Floors

Garage floors can be prepared for epoxy floor coatings using a SMITH diamond shaver, or a fine-finish scarifier to achieve the proper SP3 – SP5 surface profile. The handheld, walk-behind, or self-propelled equipment can also be used to remove cracks and uneven spots, chemical spills, existing grease, oil stains and more, at considerable cost-effectiveness than the use of shot blasters and diamond grinders.

Sidewalk Trippers

Leveling uneven sidewalks is fast, easy, and inexpensive using a SMITH scarifier, outfitted with Flail-it cutters in a coarse or medium setup. While operating in the ‘cutter impact zone,’ float the drum-style equipment in a circular pattern for an anti-slip SP3 – SP5 texture.


Factory and Warehouse Applications:

Without the right surface preparation equipment, removing tenacious coatings is a difficult and time consuming process. Using SMITH drum and rotary style eradicators is proven to be a much easier and faster removal method than shot-blasters when removing floor coverings, waterproofing membranes and thick coatings.  Selecting the right sized equipment, outfitted cutter drum assembly and using the equipment correctly is key to getting the surface prepared correctly.


For the hired painting or flooring contractor, the task of getting the surface prepared correctly can be daunting. Especially when there is so much misinformation and equipment choices for managing a wide variety of surface preparation challenges.

The benefit of using just 2 machines – a drum-style scarifier and a rotary eraser or grinder – should be all the equipment a contractor needs to accomplish up to 90% of typical flooring prep work. Having two machines also makes it economical and convenient for the contractor; the contractor would only need to bring an assortment of outfitted cutter-drum assemblies and a HEPA vacuum system to contain dust and debris.

Most applications are on horizontal surfaces. Any application on vertical surfaces (such as walls), the equipment would have to be used with an approved vertical rigging systems to properly profile the surface.

Concrete Surface Grinding

If the job requires a finished, polished surface, a diamond grinder would be the tool of choice. Before you start grinding or polishing concrete, however, the contractor would determine how much concrete materials, coatings, and overlays that would have to be removed, reduced, or leveled prior to the final grinding or polishing step. In these circumstances, professional contractors significantly reduce the amount of finishing time by pre-conditioning the surface with a drum-style scarifier or shaver to remove any coverings and coatings, exposing the aggregate to an SP3 – 4 profile.

Start the concrete grinding process when the surface is within 1/16″ complete. Any surfaces that have to be reduced further can be quickly accomplished with a vertical drum-style scarifier, especially when cleaning, leveling and removing mastics, epoxies, urethane, paint, sealers, coatings, repair materials or overlays. A scarifier outfitted with a fine set-up with milling, finishing, stripping, or flailing cutters can also be used to smooth out uneven surfaces on floors, or to remove leftover glues and mastics after old floor coverings are removed on terrazzo, marble, granite, or decorative concrete applications.

Crack Repair

Proper maintenance of concrete floors often involves crack repairs and spalled surfaces. Cracks in concrete floors are caused by a number of factors, including ground or building movement, unstable subsurfaces, the concrete curing process, poorly placed control joints, heavy traffic or loads, moisture and/or temperature cycles. Specialized handheld or walk-behind crack-chasing and joint clean-out saws can repair most cracks or expansion joints.

Parking and Roof Decks

Scraping blades, PCD discs, or stripping tools can be used to remove adhesives, thick thermoset epoxy, or urethane coatings, thinnest mortars, waterproofing membranes, roofing material, VCT, carpet, marble or ceramic tile, vinyl, wood flooring, rubber and other materials in a variety of applications. The PCD discs can be used in a rotary eraser or grinder to break aways these membrane coatings.


Steel Applications:


Ship Decks and Hulls

As part of a routine maintenance schedule for any ship with a nonskid thermoset-type deck coating that must be removed and replaced, the use of a drum-style scarifier (handheld, walk- or ride-on models) outfitted with the right cutters can complete the job faster and at less cost than using shot- or water-blasting methods.

The benefit of using SMITH scarifiers to remove the non-skids and create the right surface profile fast, easy and cost-effectively for coating re-application is the #1 reason a SMITH is selected. In addition to non-skids, the drum-style scarifiers also remove paint and rust, mill scale and marine growth, clean ship decks and offshore platforms.

Storage Tanks

With the use of a vertical rigging system , drum-style scarifiers can prepare storage tanks, ship hulls and other vertical or near-vertical steel surfaces. As the equipment removes and strips away the coatings, it profiles the surface simultaneously in the right SP texture for immediate new coating overlays. A range of surface profiles can be achieved through selection of the correct cutter, spacing pattern, and travel speed.



Selection of the right rotary and drum style surface preparation equipment with the right tooling and removal method offers the following benefits versus blasting operations, to wit:

  • High productivity rates
  • Reduced manpower and fatigue
  • Reduced maintenance costs vs. shot blasting
  • Requires less manpower and minimizes operator fatigue
  • Dust containment and waste disposal with HEPA vacuum
  • No costly high-pressure water pumps or shot-blast components to buy or maintain
  • No flash rusting since surface is prepared clean and dry
  • No requirement of inventory of shot other than replaceable cutter drums

Road Markings Made Stronger

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Where the Rubber Meets the Marking in the Road


When tires abruptly turn on a pavement marking (i.e., right-hand turn or roundabout), the amount of shear surface force on it causes coating materials – that are only held at the surface – to prematurely release. When the surface has a sound texture, one that matching the thickness of the applied coatings (without surface micro-fractures), the increase of mechanical bond strength will allow the applied coatings to withstand a much greater shearing turn force.

Most pavement markings fail due to its inability to properly bond with an underlaying surface that may be too impermeable, or too unstable to hold the marking in place. For instance, a dry-erase whiteboard is a good example of a non-porous surface where markings stay on top of the surface, which can be quickly wiped off on demand. Only when the whiteboard’s tough outer shell is scratched will the markings penetrate.

road marking

Alternatively, a white paper pad is a good example of a porous surface that quickly absorbs markings for a permanent bond that is very difficult to remove. If stripers install their markings on very smooth asphalt or concrete surfaces, especially in areas where there is heavy shearing of tires in stop-and-go traffic, turning lanes, or in traffic roundabouts, the bond strength of the coating is put to a severe test.

road marking

Markings that were applied on very smooth surfaces that are only on top of the surface (like a whiteboard) allow the shearing of the tires to quickly break the coating bond from the road. Adding a surface profile is the only way to support the applied coating system with a tough mechanical bond being formed, allowing the applied material to wet into the prepared porous substrate.

Here is a recommended profile guide for various applied coating, marking, overlay and repair materials when the material manufacturer does not furnish their own profile guide standards:

Marking Type
SP# Removal
to itself?
Best for
 Sealer (S) 1-5  N/A 1-2  80-100  Yes  C
 Thin Paint (P) 4-15 50 1-3 80-100  Yes A, S
 High Builds (H) 15-30 50 3-5 80-100 Yes A, S
Epoxy (2) 15-30 50 4-6 80-100 Yes C, A
Polyester (2) 15-30 50 4-6 80-100 Yes C, A
Urethane (2) 15-25 50 4-6 80-100 Yes C, A
MMA (2) 60-120 150 4-6 80-100 Yes A, S
Thermoplastic (T) 60-120 150 4-6 80-100 Yes A, S
Preform Tape (A) 30-120 150 4-6 80-100 Yes A, S
Overlays (O) 125-250 N/A 5-9 80-100 Yes A, C, S
Repair Material (R) 250+ N/A 5-9 80-100 Yes A, C, S
* A=asphalt, C=concrete, S=surface treatments

Surface Profiles:

road marking

NOTE: The pavement-marking material manufacturer will recommend their desired SP (1-10) range prior to the application of their materials on top, or recessed below the surface.




© 2017 SMITH Surface-Prep Solutions - 1610 S. Dixie Highway, Pompano Beach, FL 33060-8913
Toll Free: 1-800-653-9311 | Ph: 954-941-9744 | Fax: 954-545-0348
Specifications and data are subject to change without notice.