Engineered Solutions: New Tool Enables Asset Protection and Reduced Cost Through Corrosion Management
Corrosion is a naturally occurring phenomenon commonly defined as the deterioration of a substance (usually a metal) or its properties because of a reaction with the environment. Like other natural hazards such as earthquakes or severe weather disturbances, corrosion can cause dangerous and expensive damage to the world’s infrastructure, including bridges, highways, buildings, pipelines, tanks, and water and wastewater systems. Unlike weather-related disasters, however, corrosion can be controlled, but at a cost.
Various time-proven methods for preventing and controlling corrosion depend on the specific material to be protected; environmental concerns such as soil resistivity, humidity and exposure to salt water or industrial environments; the type of product to be processed or transported; and many other factors. The most commonly used methods include organic and metallic protective coatings; corrosion-resistant alloys, plastics and polymers; corrosion inhibitors; and cathodic protection—a technique used on pipelines, underground storage tanks and offshore structures that creates an electrochemical cell in which the surface to be protected is the cathode, and corrosion reactions are mitigated.
There have been significant studies in various parts of the world on the costs associated with corrosion control and how it affects a country’s economy. The often cited 2002 U.S. Federal Highway Administration study, “Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States,” revealed that the total annual estimated direct cost of corrosion was $276 billion—equivalent to approximately 3.1 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Studies in other countries have shown a similar percentage of GDP.
In 2014, NACE International—The Worldwide Corrosion Authority embarked on a new global study that went beyond the economic effects of corrosion; it emphasizes how to integrate corrosion technology with organizational management systems. By doing this, corrosion decisions are optimized with respect to cost savings as well as concern for safety and the environment. Released in 2016, the International Measures of Prevention, Application, and Economics of Corrosion Technologies (IMPACT) study determined that the global cost of corrosion is $2.5 trillion, or 3.4 percent of a country’s GDP.
The IMPACT study identifies and describes corrosion control strategies that could save hundreds of billions of dollars per year. The study determined that reducing what continues to be an astoundingly high cost of corrosion requires a change in how decisions are made. Although it’s important to continue investment in technology for corrosion control, putting this technology into an organizational management system context and justifying corrosion control actions by business impact are essential. The full findings and recommendations of IMPACT are available at impact.nace.org.
Building on the importance of these groundbreaking findings, the NACE International Institute (NII), an affiliation of NACE International focused on helping companies improve their performance with corrosion management systems and certification of personnel, embarked on developing IMPACT PLUS, the world’s first platform to benchmark practices and improve corrosion management across all industry sectors, from pipelines and bridges to maritime and defense systems.
“Soon after we released the IMPACT study, we began to hear from respondents and focus group participants that they needed tools to put the report’s findings into practice,” says Elaine Bowman, NACE past president and IMPACT PLUS project manager. “They couldn’t find any products to facilitate improved practices and asked us to develop a process that would help their companies manage, monitor and improve their corrosion management activities.”
Working with the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC)—the world’s foremost authority in benchmarking, best practices, process and performance improvement, and knowledge management—the NII developed IMPACT PLUS as an online network of tools, including a customized corrosion management process classification framework, corrosion management maturity model and an extensive reference library.
“We built a team of proven industry experts to design the IMPACT PLUS portal and its associated product suite,” says Chris M. Fowler, president of NII. “From the start, we knew we were pioneering something that will have lasting effects on corrosion management worldwide, so we created a program that is capable of continuous advancement and customization.”
IMPACT PLUS users have the option to manage their own use of the product or work with a trained navigator with corrosion management and consulting expertise. Navigators help customers evaluate and compare their current asset management processes, and advise them on future asset protection and corrosion management strategies.
Released in December 2017, IMPACT PLUS has the following features:
• An integrated platform for corrosion management professionals seeking to move their company to higher levels of performance
• A common language and structure needed to ensure communication throughout all levels of an organization
• A straightforward way for companies to identify gaps in processes that could lead to the reduced lifecycle of assets due to mechanical, integrity or human error
• A Corrosion Management Maturity Model that creates a roadmap of activities, investments and best practices that lead to higher performance
• A Corrosion Management System Framework, which is an organizational structure that enables effective corrosion mitigation while providing a positive return on investment
• A reference library to manage knowledge and information collected through all components of the portal
Realizing the maximum benefit in reducing corrosion costs—both direct and consequential—requires more than technology; it requires integrating corrosion decisions and practices within an organizational management system. IMPACT PLUS is the tool to make this happen in any organization, no matter what size.
For more information about IMPACT PLUS and to get started with the program, visit www.nace-impact.org.