The chal­lenge of cor­ro­sion man­age­ment

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - FRONT PAGE -

The na­ture of to­day’s work­ing en­vi­ron­ment is chang­ing as bud­gets be­come more con­strained and the po­lit­i­cal land­scape trans­forms around the world.

What­ever the econ­omy or pol­i­tics of a coun­try, cor­ro­sion will be an eco­nomic threat to in­dus­try and the wider com­mu­nity, as well as a phys­i­cal threat to in­fra­struc­ture and per­sonal safety. While there are news re­ports of oil pipe­line rup­tures, sewer ex­plo­sions or sink holes ap­pear­ing af­ter a burst water main, the ef­fects of cor­ro­sion usu­ally take many years to ap­pear. Ef­fec­tive man­age­ment or preven­tion of this in­sid­i­ous threat is es­sen­tial to min­imise its im­pact.

A re­port re­leased this year by NACE In­ter­na­tional high­lights the mas­sive cost to in­dus­try but also in­di­cates the sav­ings that can be made through ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion and util­i­sa­tion of avail­able cor­ro­sion preven­tion tech­nolo­gies and pro­cesses. It has been es­ti­mated that, glob­ally, more than three per cent of global GDP each year is spent on cor­ro­sion mit­i­ga­tion and re­pair. For Aus­tralia, in 2013, this equated to many bil­lions of dol­lars.

There are many unseen costs that re­sult from un­man­aged cor­ro­sion. The most com­mon be­ing the loss of pro­duc­tion re­sult­ing from an un­planned shut­down. Less ob­vi­ous costs are un­bud­geted cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture to re­place ma­chin­ery and equip­ment or the da­m­age to a com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion fol­low­ing a pipe­line rup­ture or sim­i­lar safety is­sue.

In re­sponse to bud­get con­straints and the ris­ing cost im­pli­ca­tions of cor­ro­sion across all in­dus­tries, as­set own­ers and man­agers look to achieve a good re­turn on their in­vest­ment. How­ever, the chang­ing dy­nam­ics of the econ­omy mean that com­pa­nies of­fer­ing cor­ro­sion man­age­ment ser­vices have to con­vince their cus­tomers of their value. “As­set own­ers ex­pect a bet­ter ROI on the money they spend on main­te­nance,” said Dean Fer­gu­son, Ma­te­ri­als En­gi­neer with In­fra­corr Con­sult­ing and Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of the Vic­to­rian Branch of the Aus­tralasian Cor­ro­sion As­so­ci­a­tion (ACA). In­fra­corr is a lead­ing en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy spe­cial­is­ing in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and dura­bil­ity so­lu­tions for con­crete and ma­sonry in­fra­struc­ture.

The Aus­tralasian Cor­ro­sion As­so­ci­a­tion (ACA) works with in­dus­try and academia to re­search all as­pects of cor­ro­sion in or­der to pro­vide an ex­ten­sive knowl­edge base that sup­ports best prac­tice in cor­ro­sion man­age­ment, thereby en­sur­ing all im­pacts of cor­ro­sion are re­spon­si­bly man­aged, the en­vi­ron­ment is pro­tected, public safety en­hanced and economies im­proved.

“Bud­gets for as­set main­te­nance are never large enough to cover re­quire­ments. Coat­ings are seen as pas­sive, so struc­tures are often left to fend for them­selves un­til cor­ro­sion da­m­age is se­vere,” said Aaron Davey, Direc­tor of Bas­tion in New Zealand. “When cou­pled with the wrong coat­ing, sub­se­quent costs can ap­pear far sooner than oth­er­wise ex­pected.”

Bas­tion has been pro­vid­ing in­no­va­tive lead­er­ship to en­gi­neer­ing, con­struc­tion and main­te­nance projects through­out NZ for nearly 10 years, pri­mar­ily with public in­fra­struc­ture or­gan­i­sa­tions and man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries.

“In the past, short-term, low cost so­lu­tions were what own­ers and op­er­a­tors were look­ing for,” said Sean Ry­der, se­nior en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tant with Phoenix So­lu­tions in New Zealand. “To­day we are able to dis­cuss the ben­e­fits of look­ing at the ‘whole of life’ as­set costs.” This holis­tic ap­proach takes ac­count of con­struc­tion and pro­jected main­te­nance costs of a project. If it is pos­si­ble to in­cor­po­rate ma­te­ri­als and pro­cesses into a de­sign that re­sults in reap­ply­ing sur­face coat­ings ev­ery 15 years in­stead of 10, there are sav­ings to be gained.

Own­ers of high-value as­sets must un­der­stand the cost im­pli­ca­tions of ig­nor­ing the ef­fects of cor­ro­sion. There are many ad­van­tages of plan­ning for cor­ro­sion con­trol and mit­i­ga­tion, two of which are that the life of an as­set can be ex­tended and main­te­nance time and costs re­duced.

Ac­cord­ing to Fer­gu­son, there is often in­ad­e­quate time given over to the de­sign phase. “Com­pa­nies often rush this and find er­rors later that could have been avoided,” he said. “Dura­bil­ity is often viewed as an af­ter­thought rather than a value add.”

“We un­der­stand that money can be tight, but it is bet­ter to con­sider how to look af­ter an as­set when it is de­signed and built,” said Gianni Mattioli, Direc­tor of his fam­ily- owned sur­face coat­ings busi­ness that has been pro­vid­ing a com­plete coat­ing ser­vice to a di­verse client base across Aus­tralia for more than 40 years. The com­pany’s fo­cus on in­no­va­tion, qual­ity, work­man­ship and safety has seen Mattioli achieve an un­sur­passed rep­u­ta­tion in the in­dus­try as in­no­va­tors in pro­tec­tive coat­ings.

Mon­i­tor­ing the im­pact of cor­ro­sion on any type of struc­ture is a crit­i­cal as­pect of en­sur­ing as­set in­tegrity. A key way of min­imis­ing cor­ro­sion is to em­ploy ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tion tech­nolo­gies.

“Proac­tively test­ing and in­spect­ing gives a clearer un­der­stand­ing of where to spend lim­ited re­sources on main­te­nance of as­sets,” said Rob Francis, of R A Francis Con­sult­ing Ser­vices. Francis has more than 40 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in met­als, ma­te­ri­als and cor­ro­sion, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing pro­tec­tive coat­ings.

“As­set own­ers often pre­fer to put off main­te­nance un­til it is too late,” said Fer­gu­son. “Ev­ery­one knows that it is cost ef­fec­tive but rarely have the bud­get to im­ple­ment in­te­grated de­sign and ser­vic­ing pro­gramme.”

How­ever, prac­ti­tion­ers have no­ticed a grad­ual trend to­ward as­set own­ers recog­nis­ing the ben­e­fits of main­te­nance plan­ning. “Since start­ing in the in­dus­try on the 1990s, I have seen a shift in at­ti­tude by as­set own­ers,” Davey said. “More are ap­pre­ci­at­ing the wis­dom of do­ing it right the first time.”

Ry­der sup­ported this opin­ion, stat­ing that he had “no­ticed quite a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease of the aware­ness of as­set own­ers as to the ben­e­fits of de­sign­ing for dura­bil­ity; they are more and more tak­ing a long-term view of as­set pro­tec­tion.”

It is usu­ally govern­ment bod­ies and larger com­pa­nies that take a lead role when new busi­ness con­cepts are im­ple­mented, but it can still take some time for there to be a ‘groundswell’ of ac­cep­tance. “Once larger govern­ment agen­cies start do­ing it, the up­take flows down through other bod­ies and com­mer­cial com­pa­nies,” Ry­der added.

Best prac­tices for con­struc­tion and ser­vic­ing op­er­a­tions have been changed and adapted to re­flect the lat­est health and safety leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions. These have also flowed through into the qual­ity con­trol of a project. As­set own­ers have been forced to con­sider how things will be main­tained in or­der to keep work­ers safe while car­ry­ing out re­pairs or ap­ply­ing a pro­tec­tive coat­ing.

The changes in OHS leg­is­la­tion are also be­ing in­cor­po­rated into as­set man­age­ment plans. The safety as­pect of de­signs are be­ing viewed as part of the over­all main­te­nance strat­egy. “If it is dif­fi­cult to get up to an area of a struc­ture to reap­ply a pro­tec­tive coat­ing, it would have been bet­ter to de­sign it with eas­ier ac­cess,” said Ry­der. If, when it is built, there are few con­straints on the ac­cess to a struc­ture or the equip­ment to be main­tained, it is pos­si­ble to re­duce the fre­quency of ser­vic­ing.

“We have been on some projects where a build­ing may look nice and do its job, but there may be over­hangs and lips,” said Mattioli. “We as con­trac­tors have to ac­cess these to do our job but there has usu­ally been lit tle thought of how to get into these ar­eas. It is even worse if the job is 20 sto­ries above ground.”

As an il­lus­tra­tion, work­ing on the struc­tural cross mem­bers of an off­shore plat­form or trans­mis­sion tower in a re­mote lo­ca­tion re­quires a unique com­bi­na­tion of skills, but also ad­di­tional safety pre­cau­tions. Tech­ni­cians need to have both the ap­pro­pri­ate cor­ro­sion qual­i­fi­ca­tions and abseiling ex­pe­ri­ence.

In or­der to ef­fec­tively and com­pre­hen­sively ex­plain the ben­e­fits of in­cor­po­rat­ing main­te­nance plan­ning into the de­sign process, com­pa­nies and prac­ti­tion­ers in the in­dus­try must en­sure they un­der­stand all the lat­est prod­ucts, tech­nolo­gies, pro­cesses and leg­is­la­tion. “We de­vote lots of time to staff training and ed­u­ca­tion” said Mattioli. “We feel it is im­por­tant for all mem­bers of our team to con­tinue to learn about the new ma­te­ri­als, new tech­niques and new training meth­ods.”

Ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy and the spread of the In­ter­net means that the amount of in­for­ma­tion that is read­ily avail­able to de­sign­ers, builders and con­trac­tors is vast. Com­pa­nies are find­ing their staff are will­ing to re­search best prac­tices and how to use new ma­te­ri­als. “There is a new gen­er­a­tion com­ing through with a fo­cus and in­ter­est in do­ing a job well us­ing the best tech­nol­ogy and ma­te­ri­als,” said Davey. “With the amount of data and the ease of ac­cess to it via on­line sources, it is easy to achieve ex­cel­lence these days.”

As the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try re­struc­tures, some com­pa­nies are tak­ing ad­van­tage of work­force changes. “There are chal­lenges to the econ­omy and some sec­tors are hurt­ing more than oth­ers,” Mattioli stated. Some man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers have a cer­tain mind­set in terms of pre­ci­sion and un­der­stand­ing the plan­ning and steps that need to be taken to suc­cess­fully ap­ply a pro­tec­tive coat­ing. “It has been sur­pris­ing that we have had great suc­cess re­train­ing auto me­chan­ics as ap­pli­ca­tors,” he added.

An added ben­e­fit of plan­ning for sustainability and de­sign­ing projects to re­quire min­i­mal main­te­nance is a re­duced im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. “If you can main­tain it ef­fec­tively, you do not need to re­place an as­set as often which there­fore has an en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit,” added Ry­der.

One area where Phoenix So­lu­tions is ex­pand­ing its work is reusing ma­te­ri­als on­site, es­pe­cially for re­mote com­mu­ni­ties and is­land na­tions in the Pa­cific re­gion. One scheme the com­pany is as­so­ci­ated with in­volves tak­ing poly­mer waste and in­cor­po­rat­ing it into a stan­dard con­crete ma­trix. The poly­mer pro­vides ad­di­tional dura­bil­ity for as­sets that re­quire lower struc­ture strength such as foot­paths and buried sep­tic tanks.

“A ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion is en­sur­ing that a suc­cess­ful mix­ture is re­peat­able,” said Ry­der. “We have to be care­ful to en­sure that there is con­sis­tency in the treat­ment of the poly­mer waste.” This re­cy­cling of waste poly­mer pro­vides strength and dura­bil­ity to tourism in­fra­struc­ture and re­duces the cost of the works be­cause the amount of steel re­bar that has to be shipped to re­mote lo­ca­tions is re­duced. There is an ad­di­tional ben­e­fit in that it min­imises the amount of waste ma­te­rial that is shipped from the lo­ca­tion or burnt.

“Ex­plain­ing the fi­nan­cial drivers is usu­ally sim­pler as the re­sults are eas­ily mea­sured now,” Ry­der stated. “How­ever, as time goes on, there will be more and more mea­sur­able re­sults of the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits which will en­cour­age clients to do more de­sign for dura­bil­ity.”

The ACA is a not-for- profit, in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, es­tab­lished in 1955 to ser­vice the needs of Aus­tralian and New Zealand com­pa­nies, or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als in­volved in the fight against cor­ro­sion. The vi­sion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion is to re­duce the im­pact of cor­ro­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.