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29/6/2016 ConditionSurveyTheBackboneofaGoodCoatingSpecification

ConditionSurveyTheBackboneofaGoodCoating
Specification
ByMarkWeston,June12,2015

Takeaway:Conditionassessmentsareconsideredsteponeonanymaintenanceorcoatingsproject.Butthereare
importantpreliminaryfactorsthatanexperiencedsurveyormustaddressbeforestartingthesurveywork.Humanissues,
projectcosts,thelevelofdetailrequired,andtheclientsmaintenancephilosophyallaffecthowthesurveyshouldbe
conducted.

Coatingspecificationbestpracticescallforan
independentconditionsurveytobedonefirst,inorder
toprescribethemostappropriatemaintenanceto
rectifyproblems.Thefacilityorassettobesurveyed
maybeanoilandgasrefinery,anoffshorerig,a
containership,aportstructure,arailwaysystem,a
mineralprocessingplant,abridge,orapower
generationplantvirtuallyanyinfrastructurethatmust
performitsdesignfunctionforprivateenterpriseorfor
publicuse.

Thecoatingspecificationisbasedonkeyquestions
thattheconditionsurveyanswers:

Whatisthesubstrate?
Whatistheexistingcoatingsystem?
Isthererustorchalking?
Isthecoatingwelladheredorisitpeeling?
USSKittyHawkhullinspectionteam
Whatarethelikelycausesofcoating
Source:MateAirmanBoFlannigan
deteriorationage,damage?
Isthepaintclassifiedashazardous,thus
requiringspecialremovalprotocols?
Isthecoatingfoundationingoodenoughshapetorecommendmorecosteffectiverecoatingorspotrepairs?
Isotherrepairworkrequired,suchassteelorfastenerreplacement,testing,welding,ormechanicalwork?

Butbeforethesurveyisconducted,thereareimportantaspectsthatmustbeaddressed.

TheHumanEngineeringFactor
Becauseperceptionsplayakeyroleindeterminingassetcondition,thefirstthingtodoistogetallthevariouspeople
involvedtoviewtheassetinthesamecondition.Thissoundsverysimplistic,butitsveryhardtodo.Theresnothing
worsethandoingasurvey,andtwoyearslatercomingbackandhavingadifferentgroupofpeopledoingthesame
surveyandcomingupwiththingsthathave"selfhealed"orimprovedmiraculouslywheninfact,nothinghasbeendone.

Icallthis"humanengineering",anditrequiresconstantmonitoringduringasurveytoensurethatpeopleareseeingthe
samethingsandareinagreement.

Welearnedthisthroughtrialanderror.Inthepastwewouldsay,Letslookatthissurfacefinishandrankitonascaleof
1to10.Whenyouaretrainingpeopletoassessthings,askingthemtorankanitemonascaleof1to10isactuallyone
ofthemostimpossibletasksforhumanstodo.

Butsurveyorsgenerallyneedtoputanumericalscaleoneachitemwereassessing.Whatwelearnedisthathumans
candoaselectionofthreeveryeasily,sowedevelopedadifferentrankingsystembasedonthat.Nowweask,How
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29/6/2016 ConditionSurveyTheBackboneofaGoodCoatingSpecification

wouldyourankthatitemgood,fair,orpoor?Iftheysayitsafair,itsinthemiddle.Atthatpoint,youaskthemtolook
away,andturnandlookagainattheitem.Thenyouask,Wouldyousayitsfairplusorfairminus,orjustfair?And
suddenlyyouvegotaselectionofnine.

Itdoesntmatterwhetheryouretalkingabouttheconditionofthethreadsofabolt,thedegreeofrustonanitem,orthe
conditionofanexistingprotectivecoatingnowyouvegotsomethingyoucanputareasonablyaccuratenumerical
figureon.

HowMuchDetail?
Anotherdilemmathatoccursinallsurveysisdecidinghowmuchdepthtogointo.Howmuchdatadoyoucollect?Heres
anexampleoftheproblem:Ifyouregoingtoassesstheconditionofasimplefourleggedtable,doyoucountitasone
item,ordoyoulookatthetopofthetable,underneaththetopofthetable,andateachleg?Ifitsthelatter,then
suddenlythatoneitembecomessixitems.

Wehaveatendencytogettoomuchdetailandthatclogsupthewholesystem.Soinsteadof20,000datapoints,youve
got100,000datapoints.Thereforeyouneedtocontrolthataspecttoothatsallpartoftheplanningofasurvey.

WhatDoestheClientWant?
AnotheraspectIvefoundthatisparticularlyimportantbeforetheworkstartsistositdownwiththeengineerandthe
peoplewhoaregoingtousethesurvey,andask,Whatinformationareyoulookingfor?Thisbecomesveryimportant
andusuallytheengineerdoesntreallyquiteknowwhathewants.Theengineerorthepersonresponsibleforthesurvey
needstoanswerthesequestions:

Whatisthevalueoftheasset?
Whatisthevalueofthemaintenanceworkgoingtobe?
Willmaintenanceinfactaddvaluetothewholeasset?
Whatwillbethecostifwedontdothismaintenance,thisassetmanagementnow?
Ifwedontdoitnow,whatsitgoingtocostin2to4yearstime?

Thatsthenameofthegameinbusinesstoday,andtheparametersweworkaroundallthetime.Thisisallbesidehow
youphysicallyconducttheassessment,andwhatparametersyoumeasureitagainst.Butifyoudontgetthese
elementarythingsright,thenthewholethingcangopearshapedonyouveryquickly.

Iveseensurveysdoneandtheresultsgetputontheshelfbecausenoonelooksatthem.Sometimesassessmentsare
mandatedbylegislation,buttheyareusuallydonebyaclientwhowantstoknowwhatconditionsthingsarein.Inrecent
years,therehasbeenapushbyanumberofsuppliersandpaintcompaniestoprovideassessmentsasamarketingtool
totrytoselltheirproduct.Thosesurveysusuallygetleftontheshelf,andareusuallyofquestionablevalue.

MaintainItorLetItFail?
Consideringoffshorerigs,insomepartsoftheworld,theownermayletthewholethingdeteriorateuntilbitsfalloffand
theyjustpatchandrepairit.Inotherpartsoftheworld,theclienttriestokeeptheassetingoodcondition,requiring
minimummaintenance.

Sometimesthesurveyorwillheartheownersay,Thisminesitehasonlygotalifeof10years.Wejustneeditto
produce10yearsandthenweregoingtobulldozeit.But20yearslater,theyarestillmaintainingit.Thatsareal
problem.

ThereisalotofmininginAustralia,soourcompanydoesalotofworkinthatindustry.Offshoreitsmostlyoilandgas.
Onshore,wehavemineralprocessingplantsthatareasaggressiveasoffshoreintermsofcorrosion.

Thefirstthingyoushoulddoisgoouttothesiteandtrytodeterminewhathasbeendonetoitinthepast.Thatcanbe
anything.Itsabitofanarttotryandfindwhatsortofprotectivelayersareonthere.Evendeterminingthesubstratecan
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beverydifficultattimes.Soyouhavetogooutwithexpertstafftolookatthat.
29/6/2016 ConditionSurveyTheBackboneofaGoodCoatingSpecification

Again,allthisisdonebeforeyouevenstartthesurvey.Thosearejustsomeofthethingswevedevelopedoveraperiod
oftimebypainandlearningitthewrongwayaround.

DollarsandSense
Themainquestiontoasktheengineeris:"Howmuchdoyouwanttospendonmaintenanceandwhereareyougoingto
spendit?"Thenhesgoingtohavetofightwithmanagementandsay,Ivedoneanassessment,andIneed$7million
todonecessarymaintenanceandrepairs.Hellusuallygetthisreplyfrommanagement:Youcanhaveaquarterof
that,andyoujusthavetomakedo.

Howdoesthatengineerjustifythemaintenancecosts?Howmuchisitgoingtocosttokeepitmaintained?

Oneofourclientshaselectricaltransmissiontowershighvoltagepylons.Theresapointatwhichitismoreeconomical
toreplacebitsofsteelratherthanprotectthemwithcoatings.Thatssomethingtheclienthastojudge.

Oneofthebigthingsaboutthesurveyisthatyouvegottocomebackwithareasonabledollarvalue.Whatisitgoingto
costtorectify?Thatcanbecomparedtoadollarcostwhatitwillcosttoreplaceit.Thatsnormallyamongthe
decisionsthesurveyormakes.Youhavetocomebackwithsomenumbersonitbetheywithin10or15%,theyarestill
numbersthatmeansomething.

Thesurveycanbeabudgetingtool,butitdoesntgiveyouprecisefigures.Weknow,forexample,ifyouregoing
offshore,whatthecostistoabrasiveblastcleanandputdowntwoorthreecoatsofproductpersquaremeteronthat
particularsite.Weknowwhatthecostistosendaguyoutwithascraperandawirebrushbecausehecantabrasively
blastclean.Accesscostsbecomeaverybigfactorinthosesurveys.

Again,youmuststepbackandask:Whatdoestheengineerreallywanttoknow?Usuallyits:"HowmuchmoneydoI
havetospend?WheredoIhavetospendit,andwhathappensifIdontgetallthatmoney?Whatstheescalationgoing
tobe?Howfaroffisfailure?"

Butthen,ifyouhaventgotthemoney,orengineersorsituationschange,unfortunatelymaintenancegetsdeferredand
theproblemendsupjustsittingthere.Andafteracoupleofyears,thesurveyisnolongerworthanythingotherthan
historicalinformation,anditwillhavetobedoneagain.

Thewholeeconomicsofoil&gas,mining,mineralprocess,foodprocessing,orrailwayshaschangeddramaticallytoa
"letskeepitrunning"sortofphilosophy."Wedonthavetheluxuryofspendinggreatwadsofmoneytomakethisthing
lookpristine."

FreshEyes
Acommonproblemisthatyouvegotonepoorguywhosworkingallhoursofthedayandnight,andreallydoesnthave
theopportunitytogoaroundandhaveacloselookateverything.Andagain,itshumannaturetofocusonvarious
thingstheyalreadyknowabout.

Thesurveyneedstobeindependent.Itneedsateamofexperiencedpeoplewhoarenotworkingonthatparticularsite,
whocanlookatthingswithdifferenteyes.Irememberonesurveywedidforamajoroilandgascompany.Ipresented
theresultstotheengineerhelookedatitforawhileandsaid,Thatsinteresting.Leaveitwithme.

Theengineergotbacktomeaboutamonthlaterandsaid,Youareright.Youveseenallthesethingsthatwehave
ignoredandnotseen.WhenIfirstgotthereportIthought,'Wellthisisawholelotofrubbish.ItsnotwhatImreally
lookingfor.'"Buthewentouttohavealookatthesiteandlookatthepointsthatwecameupwith,andhesaid,Youre
quiteright.

Oneoftheproblemsisofcoursecorrosion.Itoftenappearstobemuchworsethanitactuallyisinmanycases.But
equally,itcanbequitedeceptiveitcanhideawholelotofproblemsaswell.

Whenweredoingasurvey,wedoitindependentlyofanycoatingsupplier.Wehavealookatwhatneedstobedone.
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Oftenwerecalledontoprovidefullorparttimesupervisionorinstructionstothecontractoronwhatneedstohappen.
29/6/2016 ConditionSurveyTheBackboneofaGoodCoatingSpecification

Again,humannatureplaysapart.Yousay,Goanddothis,anddoitthisway,andyoufindthatsomeonejustslapped
acoatofpaintonit.Thatsmaybenotthecontractorcheatingsomuchasitsjusttheguywhosactuallydoingittotake
shortcuts.Supervisorscantbeeverywhere.

Weoftenendupdoingalotofprojectmanagementoftherectificationonsomesites.Ifweretalkingaboutpaint,we
workverycloselywiththepaintsupplierssothattheyareinagreementwiththerecommendedproducttypesweselect.
Itsveryimportantnottobesellingpaintorlabor,buttobesellingexpertopinion.Otherwiseitdoesntquitework.

TheSafetyFactor
Thetwothingsthatengineerslookatisfailureandsafety.Protectinghumansworkingaroundthosesitesbecomesvery
important.Sometimessafetyismoreimportantthanthewholeplantbreakingdown.

Firstandforemostispersonnelsafetyensuringthathandrails,walkways,andthingsthatcouldfallonpeoplearetaken
careofandaresafe.Youdontwanttokillanyone,andyoudontwanttheplacetoblowuporcatchfire.Companiesuse
aperformancematrixwhereyouratethelikelihoodoffailureofaparticularitemagainsttheconsequencesoffailureof
theitem.

Thesurveyratesthelikelihoodofeachitemfailing.Sothatfailurefactorcomesupononeaxisinthematrix.Theother
axisistheconsequencesoffailure.YoucanhavetheTVnews,helicopters,worldpress,peoplekilleddowntoalittle
bitfallingoff,andnoonecaresmuchaboutit.Onthatmatrix,youmightendupwithagridwithfivecolumnshighand
fivecolumnswide.

Areyouconsideringapieceofpipeworkwithhighpressuregasinit?Ifthatfails,theconsequencescanbesevere.You
couldalsoconsiderahotwaterpipegoingtoashowerifthatfails,itsnotarealproblem.Boththesepipeswillfailfrom
thesamesortsofmechanisms.Whattendstohappenisthattheylookatfirstmaintainingtheitemsthatcarrymost
significantfailureconsequences.

Sometimesmanagementwilldecidethatphysicalappearanceistheirnumberonepriority.Railwaysareagoodexample
ofthattheywillkeepthelocomotivesimmaculatelycleanandshiny,irrespectiveofwhatsgoingonunderneath.Its
publicperceptioneveryindustryisdifferent.

Conclusion
Overmynearlyfivedecadesinthisindustry,Ihavedonecountlessconditionsurveys.Becauseweworkwithhumans,
wemustusethebestapproachestoensurefullagreementfromtheoutsetwithallpartiesinvolvedintheprocessof
seeinganasset.

Firstattendingtothesefoundationalfactorscanmeanthedifferencebetweensuccessandfailure,withsuccessbeinga
surveythatholdsrealvaluefortheclientandthatmatchestheirneedsacrossaspectrumofpossibilities.

***
Moreinthe"HowtoWriteaGreatCoatingSpecification"series:

CoatingsSpecifications,Good,BadorUgly:LouVincentQ&A
WhyitsaMistaketoReuseOldCoatingSpecs:LouVincentQ&A
WhoParticipatesinSelectingEqualCoatingProducts?
DefiningServiceRequirements&EnvironmentalFactorsforCoatingSpecification
DefiningClientObjectivesforCoatingsSpecification
Methods&PitfallsinSelectingCoatingSystemsforSpecification
Tightrope:IdentifyingLimitingConditionsforCoatingsSpecification
ProblemsCausedbytheLackofClarity&DefinitioninCoatingSpecifications
WritingSafetyIntoYourCoatingSpecification

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