The (Hidden) Costs of Corrosion

Corrosion is Intercept™ Technology’s field of expertise. With over 30 years in the business, we’ve seen corrosion everywhere in nearly every industry.

Depending on your industry and/or geographic location, you may not view corrosion as a particularly serious threat. This article aims to highlight the ubiquity of corrosion, its costs and how devastating degradation can really be.


Corrosion’s Constant Presence

According to a 1998 report from NACE International, metallic corrosion in the United States costs $415 billion dollars annually. This amounts to 2.1% of the U.S. GDP (figures adjusted for inflation) – that’s a staggering number.

So where does corrosion occur? The answer is everywhere.

The public and private sectors all too often succumb to corrosion due to a lack of foresight or an overwhelming amount of variables stacked against them. The more exposed metal is to the elements, the quicker it corrodes. This leaves infrastructure, telecommunications equipment and automobiles particularly vulnerable. However, corrosion occurs in many places other than “out in the open”.

As a matter of fact, the NACE International report referenced above focused on five industry categories in particular:

  • Infrastructure
  • Government
  • Utilities
  • Production & Manufacturing
  • Transportation

There is, however, a large segment of the GDP that does not fall under any of these specific categories, yet does suffer losses at the occurrence of corrosion. Furthermore, while the costs of corrosion may seem obvious, there are some factors that may not be as readily perceived.


Corrosion’s Hidden Costs

Replacement

 If we narrow our scope to that of consumer products, corrosion’s effects are no less prevalent than in the industrial sectors highlighted by the NACE International report.

If corrosion occurs – depending on the size and cost of the consumer product – it’s most likely more cost efficient to replace the product, rather than repair it. While this depends on the product itself, repairs on consumer products are generally reserved for more costly and/or multi-generational products.

When it comes to electronics, replacement costs due to corrosion are rampant. Over the course of the fiscal year, the effects of degradation make themselves evident. Electronics in particular suffer from corrosion due to high rates of overseas production and transportation, where elevated levels of corrosive gases are present and often times go unchecked.

Not everything that’s broken needs to be replaced outright, however.

Repairs

There are those who criticize today’s world as a “throwaway society”, where the frivolous use of scant resources results in extreme waste. As it turns out, many of the metallic products that fall victim to corrosion are irreplaceable, in the sense that completely scraping and re-constructing them is out of the question.

This is due not only to cost, but to delays as well. For instance, it’s certainly easier to repair a bridge then it is to construct an entirely new one. Complete re-construction would not only cost a tremendous amount of capital, it also causes traffic obstruction and immense stress on nearby infrastructure. Hence, repair is often times the most effective strategy to employ when it comes to counteracting corrosion that’s already taken place.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a cheap alternative, though

Time

Once corrosion has occurred the process cannot be reversed. In other words, the damage is already done. Yes, you can repair or replace the corroded metals, but you cannot undo the process itself. Effectively, this results in lost time. Whether you opt for repair or replacement does have an effect on the amount of time lost, but the corrosion you are attempting to rectify is a sunk cost.

Replacement or repair takes time and time = money.

 Inconvenience

You’re a consumer who’s just purchased a new cell phone. Unbeknownst to you, during the phone’s manufacturing process, it was stored in a warehouse where it was exposed to elevated levels of sulfur gases. These gases corroded an element of the phone’s circuit board, resulting in electrostatic discharge. Now – a month later – this ESD has resulted in circuit board failure and your phone no longer works…let’s gauge your reaction.

First of all, you’re apprehensive. You feel mislead as to this product’s quality.

Second, you’re inconvenienced. Now you need to make an appointment, go back to the retailer and spend an afternoon getting the issue worked out.

Third, you’re angry. This cell phone wasn’t cheap and now it breaks in under a month?!

– The retailer is offering to replace the phone with another one?
– I don’t want a second unit of a product that’s obviously broken!
– The retailer is offering to repair the phone?
– I don’t want to wait around for your repairs; I need a phone now.

As you can see, when it comes to consumer products, corrosion is a massive inconvenience for both the end user and the manufacturer. A corroded product results in higher costs for producers and less loyalty in consumers. When these external variables are factored into the equation, the (hidden) costs of corrosion are nearly incalculable.

SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?


Corrosion Prevention: The Ideal Solution

Of course, because corrosion and metallic degradation is a natural process, it’s not something that can be eliminated all together. However, there are certainly ways in which the public and the private sectors can cut down on losses.

Choosing the proper method of corrosion prevention protection is a vital part to the process. While there do exist oil coatings and VCI’s, these methods of corrosion protection often contain contaminants. Despite being inefficient, these methods can cause hazards to human health.

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On the other hand, Intercept Technology provides long-term, oil-free corrosion prevention protection. What’s more, it offers this 100% sustainable and 100% recyclable protection at costs comparable with that of more traditional methods. It provides humidity-free, permanent ESD protection without the use of any toxic materials.

The best defense is always a good offense – and that’s why Intercept Technology’s range of corrosion prevention solutions is the ideal solution.

Avoid corrosion’s hidden and incontestable costs today!