The Impact of Corrosion on Heavy Equipment
It is self-evident that cranes and heavy equipment are indispensable in various industries such as construction, mining, rigging, and notably in hydrocarbon sectors. Consequently, property owners and contractors are required to adhere to high standards of maintenance, in accordance with OSHA guidelines, to ensure a safe working environment for all employees.
Leading maintenance operations on a financial scale poses a potential challenge for any maintenance organization managing their assets, which could be valued at millions, if not billions, of dollars. Corrosion, defined as the gradual deterioration of metal components due to environmental factors like high temperature, humidity, and chemical exposure, presents a significant challenge to cranes and heavy industrial equipment. This corrosion severely compromises the functionality of cranes and heavy industrial equipment, resulting in substantial economic losses, environmental pollution, and even loss of life. A comprehensive corrosion control policy is crucial to attain and sustain the requisite levels of quality, safety, and reliability within the maintenance organization.
Effects of corrosion on Cranes and Heavy Equipment:
The neglect of corrosion control measures in industrial settings has led to tragic outcomes, including loss of life, injuries, significant economic losses, and severe environmental damage. Corrosion has been linked to numerous injuries and fatalities. For instance, on March 15, 2009, a 50-ton hydraulic crane accident at a construction site in New York City resulted in the death of seven individuals. The hydraulic crane, while hoisting a heavy load, suddenly collapsed.
Investigations revealed that the crane's right lifting cylinder had been inadequately maintained, and corrosion had weakened the lifting cylinders. Various national studies conducted in several countries over the past fifty years have consistently estimated the costs of corrosion to be around 3% to 4% of each nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Considering a global GDP figure of 3.4% (as of 2013), the estimated worldwide cost of corrosion is a staggering US$2.5 trillion. Another study, conducted from 1949 to 1994, summarized the economic losses resulting from corrosion in the subsequent table.
Maintenance Solutions for Corrosion Control:
Maintenance solutions aimed at controlling corrosion are a crucial aspect of industrial operations, ensuring the longevity, safety, reliability, and efficiency of heavy equipment and infrastructure. By adopting effective corrosion control practices, it is estimated that significant savings, ranging from 15% to 35% of corrosion-related expenses, could be realized. This translates to annual global savings of approximately US$375 to $875 billion. These solutions encompass a variety of strategies, from protective coatings to predictive maintenance, all aimed at mitigating the destructive effects of corrosion. Implementing effective maintenance solutions not only protects valuable assets but also minimizes economic losses, environmental impacts, and potential safety hazards. Below are the best industry practices for maintenance solutions against corrosion.
International standards are instrumental in guiding corrosion control and maintenance solutions for heavy industrial equipment, providing a universally recognized framework that emphasizes consistency, quality, and safety in practice. Below are some of the standards pertinent to corrosion control for cranes and industrial equipment:
1. **ISO 12944**: This standard outlines guidelines for protective coatings, covering aspects such as types of coatings, application methodologies, and inspection criteria. By adhering to these standards, a standardized approach to combating corrosion across various industrial settings, including those involving cranes and industrial equipment, is ensured.
2. **ISO 8502**: This standard addresses the preparation of steel substrates before the application of paints and related products. It includes tests for assessing surface cleanliness and evaluating dust on steel surfaces prepared for painting. This standard is applicable to cranes and heavy equipment constructed with steel structures.
Advanced Maintenance Methods and Technologies
Beyond adherence to international standards, numerous advanced methods and innovative approaches exist for maintenance solutions in corrosion control. When integrated into corrosion control practices, these advanced methods and technologies enhance corrosion mitigation.
Predictive maintenance, facilitated by condition-based monitoring, leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics to forecast corrosion rates and refine maintenance schedules. Through the seamless integration of a multitude of sensors and cutting-edge technologies, condition-based monitoring programs continuously assess the health of equipment, collect and process data, and accurately detect any anomalies. Advanced cathodic protection systems, such as Impressed Current Cathodic Protection (ICCP), offer more precise control over corrosion inhibition. This proactive strategy not only minimizes downtime but also optimizes maintenance efforts, ensuring that resources are deployed precisely when needed to combat corrosion effectively.
Furthermore, a Corrosion Management System (CMS) should be incorporated into the corporate management system. Effective integration of corrosion management within an organization entails more than just technology; it necessitates the incorporation of corrosion decisions and practices within the organization’s management system. This integration extends from specific corrosion procedures to overarching organizational policies and strategies, encompassing all levels of the management system.
To maximize the benefits of corrosion management, it's crucial to articulate traditional corrosion practices within the language and context of organizational policies, ensuring commitment to the corrosion management system across all organizational levels. This approach aids in managing corrosion processes throughout all stages of asset integrity management, as depicted in the subsequent figure.
Providing methods and solutions on how to measure and improve the quality of maintenance is a key consideration for any maintenance organization. While corrosion control presents significant challenges and risks, proper maintenance processes and procedures can mitigate the detrimental effects. Corrosion control aims at ensuring the efficient operation and upkeep of physical assets, be it a maintenance facility, a commercial building, or a fleet of vehicles. By adhering to maintenance guidelines and referencing international standards, any maintenance organization can enhance the safety, reliability, and longevity of their cranes and heavy equipment.
Text: Alghaithan, Abdullah K, Saudi Aramco Mobility and Logistics Services Department
Images: Saudi Aramco Mobility and Logistics Services Department
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