20 October 2017
A short blog by Mick Flounders, CSC Services’ Contracts Director and NACE Coating Inspector examining the important factors for effective asset management for coatings…
Coatings are used across all industries to protect assets from corrosion and to ensure they meet their engineered service life. Having an effective coatings asset management programme can avoid service downtown caused by reactive coating maintenance.
The importance of taking a proactive approach to achieving the integrity of assets has long been recognised by the marine and offshore industries. The Pipelines Safety regulations 1996 for example secure pipeline integrity by ensuring that pipelines are designed, constructed and operated safely. The regulations ensure that a pipeline is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair, and advocate examination and monitoring of the pipeline as part of routine maintenance.
Safety drives coatings asset management in these regulated industries but there are many benefits to be had from extending the service life of coatings and in the long run avoiding costly downtime and reactive programmes of repairs.
It is encouraging to see software systems and solutions on the market to help companies proactively maintain facility assets. The type, location, and condition of all protective coatings can be recorded and compiled into document management systems. Software can help companies prioritise coatings maintenance and repair projects using priority codes that take into account a facility’s location, industry, applicable standards, safety objectives, maintenance policies, and existing condition.
Regular inspection and maintenance are fundamental to coatings asset maintenance but there are many other factors that we at CSC Services advocate for a good coatings programme. These include the following:
Audit of environmental conditions
All coatings programmes should start with an environmental audit. It is imperative to understand the environment in which the coatings will perform. Humidity levels, temperature ranges and air pressure are some of the factors to be considered so the optimum coating system can be specified.
A good coating programme should always start with a well-prepared specification. The specification is an essential document that is intended to provide clear and precise instructions to the contractor on what is to be done and how it is to be done. It should be drafted by someone with appropriate technical expertise, and consider factors identified in the environment audit. The service environment of the asset or structure should be considered as should the desired life expectancy of the coating.
With a huge range of specialist coatings on the market specialist advice should always be obtained. Many contractors such as CSC Services will work alongside coatings manufacturers to ensure they are fully up to date with the latest product ranges and application training. A competent contractor should however be able to offer independent advice on the best specification to suit individual requirements.
Trained and Qualified Personnel
The experience and training of the applicator and contract manager are fundamental to the success of the project. Some products have high abrasion resistance, tensile strengths and high elongation properties. Using a high tensile strength coating with no elongation properties on a substrate where movement may occur will result in cracks and failure in the coating. A lack of specialist knowledge may result in incorrect mixing of products. Most industrial products are two pack systems. If they aren’t mixed correctly they will not cure correctly.
Using a specialist contractor will ensure the correct application method of a product at the correct application temperature. Curing time is also a key consideration. Coating products require a certain amount of time to chemically bond as specified in the technical data. Not leaving sufficient time may mean the product fails. After curing, the product should be fully cleaned and inspected for fails.
Correct surface preparation
All too often coatings will fail due to incorrect substrate surface preparation. Dirt, grease, dust and other surface latents will form a barrier between the substrate and coating to be applied which means there is no mechanical bond present. Surfaces generally need to be grit blasted or hydro blasted to form a mechanical key. Correct substrate surface preparation of concrete for instance involves correct application of pore fillers and fairing coats to address blow holes or honey combing in concrete surfaces. Fairing coats need to be applied correctly to leave the required surface profile.
Inspection ensures that the coatings systems are installed as they were specified. Quality control should be provided by the contractor and ideally quality assurance performed by a third-party inspector. A good maintenance programme will always help to avoid costly downtime and reactive programmes of repairs when things go wrong.
For more information about how CSC Services can help maintain and protect assets please get in touch.