You do not have to be a corrosion control specialist to know that corrosion can eat away not only a company's equipment, but its profits as well. However, who would guess that the annual direct cost of corrosion to the U.S. economy is as significant as $276 billion per year? This figure certainly raised my eyebrows.
A new study, The United States Cost of Corrosion Study, conducted by CC Technologies Laboratories Inc. with support from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and NACE International,"The Corrosion Society, identifies the direct cost of corrosion in five major sectors of the U.S. economy. Although the utilities market is responsible for the largest direct cost ," at nearly 35 percent ," the chemical industry also plays a major part in the enormous total.
The study estimates that chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical producers total $1.7 billion per year in direct corrosion costs, or 8 percent of capital expenditures. This figure does not include corrosion costs related to operation and maintenance.
But, the study goes beyond just pointing fingers at the major corrosion suspects; it also provides recommendations for improvement, and for a good reason. Implementation of state-of-the-art corrosion management practices could save 25 percent to 30 percent of the total cost to U.S. industries ," or $70 billion to $80 billion ," each year.
Several preventive strategies are offered in the report. They include increasing awareness of significant corrosion costs and potential cost savings; changing the misconception that nothing can be done about corrosion; and changing policies, regulations, standards and management practices to increase cost savings through sound corrosion management. Other strategies include improving education and training of staff in the recognition of corrosion control; implementing advanced design practices for better corrosion management; developing advanced life prediction and performance assessment methods; and improving corrosion technology through research, development and implementation.
These strategies seem fairly straightforward, but their implementation could prove challenging. The study calls on the active involvement of a larger constituency composed of the primary stakeholders, government and industry leaders, the general public and consumers to work together to advance corrosion management.
Managing the cost of corrosion is a big job that must be tackled every day. The study makes it clear that no one person or plant can do it all alone. Take a look at your plant's current corrosion practices. Are you satisfied with the results? What can be improved? Are you willing to become an active participant in the improvement process?