The importance of having a coatings maintenance plan
The facility managers we see operating without an industrial coatings maintenance program tend to be those who have never been burned by not having one. It’s telling that those who have encountered problems from expecting coatings to outperform their service life don’t make the same mistake twice.
Neglecting the coatings that protect your assets from corrosion and other damage means gambling in a high-stakes game. Here we’ll take a look at the most common reasons for not having a proactive maintenance plan in place, and how that will come back to hit owners and facility managers right in the wallet.
Playing with fire
Many owners aren’t considering a plan for coating maintenance right from the outset. The last thing on an owner’s mind when moving into a new facility is the day the coatings will outlive their service life. But having a plan in place before that day comes can save a lot of headaches, and money.
Other times, high turnover within a corporation leads to the organization losing track of when a facility’s coatings should be undergoing maintenance. These organizations often find themselves operating without a coating maintenance plan, instead only handling issues as they arise. This process continues until a proactive manager comes along and wonders if there is a way to address problems periodically or incrementally to avoid having to replace equipment or undergo large-scale facility overhauls.
By not maintaining the coatings that protect their assets, owners and facility managers invite the sort of damage that can to get expensive. Take the all-too-frequently-true example of a neglected bridge. It receives a three-part, zinc epoxy urethane coating with an expected service life of 25 to 30 years. Now imagine funding for the scheduled maintenance falls through and the bridge’s coatings system is not revisited until it is deemed “structurally deficient” years later.
By now, corrosion has led to significant structural damage. Significant portions of the structural steel need to be replaced. New members must be fabricated to complete the rehab. Significant costs are added in the form of repairs, material and unplanned downtime. Only then is the whole bridge ready to be blasted and repainted.
As coatings wear off, corrosion begins to attack the asset. Once this process is underway, assets are continuously devalued until they eventually need to be replaced. Having a maintenance program in place to properly protect your assets is a great way to ensure this process never gets started.
Financial concerns are just one aspect of a failed coatings system. Neglected coatings can also pose serious safety risks. Bursting pipes, structural collapses, explosions and the like are some of the catastrophic repercussions of a poorly maintained asset. While a new coatings system may not be the remedy for serious structural damage, a maintenance plan will often lead to the discovery of such an issue. The damage can then be addressed properly before an accident occurs.
If pushing your industrial coatings beyond their service life is a risky gamble, investing in a coatings maintenance plan upfront is a safe investment. Unfortunately, many owners and facility managers are under the impression that a maintenance plan will automatically involve sinking a boatload of money into their facility all at once. This misunderstanding keeps them from acting on developing a program for their facility.
When properly thought out, a maintenance program doesn’t need to work this way at all. Under the right direction, the plan will align with the owner’s budget and goals.
This happens by approaching maintenance in two steps. Immediate problems (such as a leaking storage tank) are dealt with immediately. Secondary problems (such as fireproofing an entire facility) are then scheduled out over the course of the plan. This way, the cost of the plan is absorbed over time and the huge expense of a total asset failure is avoided.
As with many of the services we offer, there are firms that specialize in designing coating maintenance programs. They will inspect your facility or equipment, write you a recommended plan of action, and then potentially charge you upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for their services.
At US Coatings, we see this service as a chance to build relationships. To talk about designing a maintenance program for your facility, free of charge, get in touch with us today.