Most of us realize that coatings are about more than making an asset a little easier on the eyes. The infrastructure, facilities and equipment we’re in the business of protecting are essential to the health of the economy. The true cost of corrosion can be measured in terms of personal safety, investor confidence and, yes, billions of dollars. Protective coatings are crucial to making the country run smoothly.
What’s more often overlooked, however, is the role a protective coatings maintenance plan plays in keeping people safe and facilities functioning. Overlooked, that is, until a problem like the nation’s aging infrastructure forces its way into the conversation and begins making headlines. The America Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), for example, just recently released a report that found 54,259 bridges across the country to be “structurally deficient.” As Congress continues to struggle with the problem of how to pay for the country’s crumbling infrastructure network, maintenance projects are often pushed to the side. The result— coatings systems that have outlived their effective service life—contributes to the structural deficiency of these bridges.
While not quite as severe as such threats to human health, livelihoods are also commonly endangered by the failure to develop such a maintenance plan. Processing facilities, chemical plants and other industrial facilities are harsh environments where the process of corrosion is often accelerated as a result of normal operations. When corrosion is allowed to progress to the point of asset failure, long downtimes can ensue.
Rather than simply preventing disasters, protective coatings maintenance plans can actually help asset owners to save money over the long run. Our next series of posts will deal with different aspects of protective coatings maintenance programs. Here, we deal with why they’re so essential.
Protective coatings maintenance plans as smart investments
Having a maintenance plan will help to ensure that your coating system is functioning properly. It may seem too simple to be worthy of mentioning, but the fact is, there’s no way to make sure a coating is doing its job if it’s never checked. And some asset owners simply don’t. Regular maintenance checks help both to verify that a system has not been degraded to the point where complete asset failure is possible, but they also give inspectors a chance to point out areas where small problems can be headed off before they become large problems. This allows asset owners to spend smaller amounts of money upfront, as opposed to potentially huge sums after something’s gone wrong.
All protective coating systems have a limited service life, but regular maintenance can help to extend the life of a system. This is because, once again, problems that can be spot-coated while still small will prevent more widespread corrosion.
Maintenance programs maximize the investments of asset owners in this way, especially when the costs of minor repairs are compared to full-scale coating system replacements. Relatedly, they help to minimize asset downtime, for the obvious reason that smaller repairs tend to take less time than far larger ones.
When reasoned through, the case for regular maintenance of protective coatings is strong. But that doesn’t mean plans are simple or easy to enact. In the next few posts, we’ll discuss what to look for in a protective coatings maintenance program and why they can be complicated.