2006-06-01 - Cold Jet Dry Ice Blast Cleaning article featured in The Manufacturer
Cold Jet uses dry ice pellets to blast its way to the top - article in "The Manufacturer", June 2006.
At the start, Cold Jet was focused on spreading the word about an exciting new technology—dry ice blasting. Now, two decades later, the company’s success in developing new applications for that technology keeps it at the top of the industry.
Link to article on The Manufacturer website.
"Many years ago dry ice blasting was unknown, and it was challenging for us to concentrate on selling into one specific market because there are so many businesses and applications that can benefit from this technology," said Betsey Seibel, director of marketing communication. "Today we’re selling less on what the technology can do but more on why we are superior. We’re positioning ourselves based on what we do better."
Scott Gatje, COO, agreed. "We’re more sophisticated in product development," he said. "Now we’re engineering products driven by market segments that can generate the most potential for growth. We’ve transitioned from our original focus on improving and building a lighter, more effective machine and hoping that it sells, to focusing now on market segment driven development."
The Cold Jet dry ice blasting process uses solid carbon dioxide (CO2 ), or "dry ice," as its blast media. Dry ice particles are accelerated to high velocities by a stream of compressed air, and the blast stream is directed at the surface to be cleaned. It’s a dry process, and it creates no secondary waste, as the media sublimates upon impact. It’s also a fast process, so it can be used to clean equipment that is hot and online, thereby eliminating prolonged production shutdown times. Equipment life is extended through lack of abrasion, and there is no secondary cleanup required. Applications include disaster remediation (to remove mold or in fire or historical restorations), automotive, plastic, and rubber mold lines, foundry, wood, and printing.
Cold Jet also manufactures and sells the machines that make the dry ice media, which are not only attractive to the packaging industry but also enable the company to sell fully integrated dry ice production and blasting systems. "We have seven or eight different machines that are sized and priced for general market needs, and then we do specific market designs," explained Bob Ooten, director of operations. "Between the different models and different nozzles, you have a huge variety unmatched by anyone else," Gatje added.
Cold Jet’s nozzles play a key role in its ability to serve the variety of markets that it does. Its engineering team includes those with aerospace backgrounds who are squarely focused on designing nozzles. This 10-member team generates ideas not only from market trends but through the company’s close relationships with its customers. "We want to take them to a level they’ve never been before," explained Tony Lehnig, manager of new product development. "We want to introduce them to the whole idea of dry ice blasting.
Once they’re working with engineering, that’s where the excitement grows. "Dry ice blasting can become an integrated part of a customer’s regular production system," Lehnig continued. "The value of dry ice blasting is that there’s no downtime for the customer. There’s no need to take a machine apart and take it to a cleaning room. In minutes you can do what used to take anywhere from one to 10 hours."
Seibel noted that once customers begin using Cold Jet’s dry ice blasting systems, they often find other cleaning applications on their own. "They’ll buy the equipment based on one cleaning application, and then they’ll see how easy it is to use," she said. "They see the clean they can achieve, then move on to clean other things. This initiates a new cleaning focus for many companies."
As diverse as the markets it serves, so too are the size of its customers. "We can work with small contractors all the way up to large Fortune 100 corporations," Seibel said. "Our infrastructure—our 24-hour technical support, our global offices, our manufacturing and engineering, global sales channels—can support the requirements of customers of any size. We’re a solid company with thousands of installed customers."
What sets Cold Jet apart from its competitors is not just its experience in developing dry ice blasting technology. "All our manufacturing is located in one facility, so there is tight quality control," Ooten said. "We’re also a global company. It’s as common for us to sell to Asia as it is to Kentucky." Cold Jet also is looking to new lean manufacturing initiatives to give it an edge. "The lean initiative as a company is new since about this time last year," Ooten said, "but we started to look into lean manufacturing several years ago." With value stream mapping completed, Cold Jet is looking forward to its first significant kaizen event this month, which will focus on the company’s subassembly area.
Cold Jet relies upon its vendors not only to supply top-quality components but also to share the same manufacturing principles. A number of the company’s largest vendors attended the lean courses and, according to Ooten, seem enthusiastic about lean’s potential in their own shops.
In some cases, Cold Jet already has established kanban systems with vendors. "We use a two-bin kanban system, and we’re asking vendors to have the same kanban levels," Ooten said. While the majority of these relationships involve Cold Jet signaling its vendors to replenish, some are vendor managed. Founded on the idea of creating cost-effective, environmentally responsible and technologically advanced dry ice solutions, Cold Jet remains committed to satisfying the growing worldwide demand for advanced dry ice solutions in new and innovative ways. And the past is driving its future.