Why care about corrosion?
Frankly, because corrosion is one of the world’s biggest challenges, and this problem will get even larger as assets continue to age and undergo the natural process of corrosion. Corrosion, by definition, is the deterioration of metal as a result of chemical reactions between it and the surrounding environment. Corrosion is estimated to cost $2.2 trillion globally, approximately 3.5% of GDP. (NACE International. http://impact.nace.org/economic-impact.aspx.) In the United States alone the direct costs of corrosion are over $276 billion as of 2002. That is a staggering number that obviously has grown since NACE issued the initial analysis. The sheer magnitude of this problem is why we at GE feel compelled to help with a solution. Even more astonishing is the fact that these figures don’t account for indirect costs of shut downs, work stoppages or lost productivity that are estimated to double the total impact of corrosion on the global economy. The numbers also do not account for the risk of catastrophic impact to life or the environment associated with failure of some of these critical assets. Clearly, corrosion is something we should be trying to address.
Benjamin Franklin once said “...but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I think it safe to assume that were he alive today he would include a third certainty, metal corrodes.
What can be done about corrosion?
Both NACE.org and NASA studies estimate that companies can save between 15% to 35% of annual corrosion-related costs through optimum corrosion management practices. That means working together to address this problem through a variety of means could result in $330 - $550 billion dollar savings globally. I believe corrosion solutions can be divided into three categories, Corrosion Prevention, Corrosion Management, and Corrosion Monitoring. One of these can be applied in almost every situation to help lower or eliminate the costs of corrosion and drive real value for customers.
Corrosion Prevention would be solutions geared toward stopping or eliminating corrosion completely. Obviously ideal if it can be done but there is no on simple way to solve this. Corrosion Management would be the applications of tools, technology and process improvements to slow or reduce the rates of corrosion. Finally, Corrosion Monitoring is the application of sensors and measurement techniques to provide data on rates of corrosion and asset condition as it relates to corrosion. There are millions of assets that can be monitored to better understand corrosion, the interaction of assets with the environment and how other factors change the rates of corrosion. The goal of monitoring is to provide insights enabling experts to get smarter about their assets so we can better predict how they will perform, make informed decision about when to repair or replace so we can maximize the value of investments simultaneously reducing the risk of catastrophic failures.
How can GE help?
Today at GE Inspection Technologies’we are developing a family of Corrosion Management and Inspection tools to connect assets, collect data, perform advanced analytics and visualizations enabling us to learn more about corrosion, and to help our customers get smarter about managing corrosion. Our first product release will be a Predictive Corrosion Management application running on GE’s Predix platform utilizing our new RightTrax PM installed ultrasonic sensors for thickness monitoring. This solution offers real time thickness measurement and the ability to perform advanced data analytics and visualizations. We can move customers from point-in-time to continuous thickness measurement. This shift enables our customers to improve asset integrity management, while simultaneously opening the door for innovative ways to utilize this data to optimize plant and process performance.
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