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Precast Concrete Industry

I am currently working on an efficiency assessment of a small precast
concrete manufacturer who specializes in high-end architectural building
panels.  They have two issues which I would be interested in getting any
feedback on best practices/waste minimization that exist in this or
similar industries. 
1 - They use a water spray application of muriatic acid to give finished
panels a "limestone" appearance. This seems to waste a lot of water and
2 - They use silica sand blasting within an enclosure, again to give the
panels a certain surface appearance.  Are there any alternatives to
silica sand that will not discolor the surface and provide a similar
surface finish? 
Thanks for any advice.

--Bonnie Pray
Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Sciences