It’s probably not surprising to hear coatings professionals say that a good asset management program begins with the right coating, but it’s true. The industrial coating chosen to protect an asset should be selected on the basis of the asset’s environment, with the product’s particular strengths matching up against the pressures of the asset’s environment. Whether those pressures are UV light, salinity, extreme heat or cold or some other factor, the coating chosen should be designed to stand up to them. It should also be verified that the coating’s anticipated lifespan fits in with the longer-term asset management timeline and that any spot coating or other maintenance work that’s done is compatible with the previous application.
So asset management starts with selecting the right coating. But what’s next?
From application to inspection
Once again, it probably won’t be surprising to hear a coatings applicator talk about the importance of the application itself for the life of the coating. But again, it’s true. From surface preparation to the time the final coat is applied, professionalism and attention to detail are hugely important. An asset owner should verify that the industrial painter coating their asset is properly trained and certified by a trusted professional oversight organization, such as NACE or SSPC. SSPC QP and QS certifications are good ways to gauge the reliability of the paint contractor. These certifications validate the contractor's business credentials and the skills of the painters on the project, as they are vetted by the strict standards of a professional organization.
The specification sheet serves as a crucial document for the applicator as it outlines their tasks on the project. The specification sheet, submitted with a bid proposal, contains information critical to the life and performance of a coating. These documents should be clear, concise, recommend the best coating system for the project and detail the duties of the applicator.
Because of the importance of asset management both from a cost and a safety standpoint, it’s also necessary that every coatings-based asset management plan is overseen by a third-party inspection firm. These professionals verify quality at a number of key points during the project, including prior to surface preparation, confirming that the surface preparation was conducted according to the right standards, that the actual coating application was conducted properly and a final inspection following the application of the coating.
Here again, SSPC standards can be used to ensure that only qualified inspectors make it onto a job site. Protective coatings inspector (PCI) programs certify inspectors to work projects on bridges, projects predominantly involving concrete and those projects involving protective coatings more generally.
To recap, the following are the most important steps of a well-thought-out coatings-based asset management plan:
- Selecting the right coating
- Selecting an SSPC-certified contractor
- Drafting a clear, concise specification sheet that specifies a coating and details the work to be completed
- Contracting a certified third-party inspector
- Successfully completing the inspection
Once inspections are completed and the job is signed off on, the asset management plan is almost complete. Almost. The final piece of a quality long-term asset management program involves regular coatings assessment surveys. This final step ensures that the coating’s condition is regularly assessed and that no minor points of failure for the protective coating system are allowed to grow into larger issues.
While it can be tempting, as an asset owner, to trust the plan that’s been put together up until this point and to congratulate all parties on a job well done, this last step is not to be forgotten. It will help to keep the asset safe over the long term and to correct for any issues that may have slipped through the cracks earlier in the project.