Ask anybody who owns something metal: Corrosion is a pain. No matter whether it’s saltwater on your boat, or watery residue from crude in your pipeline, corrosion has a cost. But how much would you value that cost to be?
NACE International (National Association of Corrosion Engineers) estimates the yearly cost of corrosion is more than 1.95 trillion dollars. That’s more than 3.5 percent of the world’s GDP, every year, lost every year because of corroding metals. This number accounts for material costs alone. If you consider the lost revenue of work stoppages resulting from these occurrences, that number could approach $4 trillion.
Corrosion is a problem as old as man using metal, but fortunately new trends have started to make inroads against the problem, particularly within the oil and gas industry.
General Electric has promoted its digital projects recently, and one example is its Predictive Corrosion Management App. This web application works in sync with GE’s Predix data collection platform in order to monitor and predict corrosion in constructs such as oil refineries. Tara Merry, the senior project manager for GE Oil & Gas, estimates that there were 150,000 points that required monitoring in the average refinery. If corrosion at any of them causes operations to shut down, the owner would lose more than $1 million in productivity every day.
There is no replacing the physical requirements of the Oil and Gas industries, nor is there any way to replace the physical elements of constructing pipelines or refineries. However there is plenty of room for apps and other digital means to save millions, even billions, of dollars from corrosion inefficiencies.
Watershed Materials is looking to contribute to these changes via the Watershed Materials App, which is dedicated to making the drain tile repair process more efficient for pipeline construction crews.
Data collection along a pipeline project becomes easier if foremen and other workers can enter it as it happens, instead of waiting for hours for the end of the work day. The cost of this wait? Inaccuracy.
Inaccuracy creates trouble for companies in the future, when they can’t identify the location of a repair when a farmer reports a problem months later. The Watershed App keeps repairs organized, as well as making them viewable in real time for workers in the field. If a supervisor spots something in questionable in motion, they can communicate with the foreman through the app and prevent future repairs from being required.
But that’s just in the short run. Construction companies don’t just need the data for future reference in case of problems. This data can also benefit them greatly by helping to plan for similar projects in the future. The web version of the Watershed App stores all of the data on easy-to-understand spreadsheets, which can be filtered and exported.
It’s impossible to totally eliminate corrosion, and it’s impossible to run at 100 percent efficiency. Using apps like the ones described in this article, however, will bring us closer to both goals in the future.