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Failure is Expensive | Industrial Conformal Coatings

Mallory McGuinness | July 02, 2020

In the energy and industrial space, businesses can digitalize, decentralize, or die in an evolving landscape that has changed almost beyond recognition.

Heavy industry segments, including oil and gas, mining, and marine, are using device-driven autonomous technology to increase safety, improve operational efficiency, and minimize headcount. Meanwhile, IIoT energy applications are designed and developed to improve performance and optimize hybrid microgrid systems. Digitalization allows for the maintenance of assets and remote monitoring and operation, which results in the reduction of unplanned downtime, and consequently, the total cost of ownership.

The global IoT in the oil and gas market will be valued at $39.40 billion by 2023

The power and utility industry is no longer comprised of centralized, unidirectional entities. A new type of technology is distributed across the grid, in industrial and commercial applications, as well as residential, introducing exciting capabilities and innovations. As a variety of connected devices perform electrical storage and generation (called distributed energy resources), decentralization results in lowered carbon emissions and reduced transmission losses. As consumers no longer have to rely on relatively few, remote power stations, they benefit from a more dependable supply of power, and many times, more competitive prices.

One corroded component that has failed suddenly costs millions of dollars a day.

Worldwide, the smart grid market is projected to grow to $61.3 billion by 2023.

Analog to digital. Centralized to distributed. Such far-reaching changes across industries raise numerous complex and intricate implications for the industrial and energy segments. But when we consider the consequences of digital transformation, the biggest takeaway is this: the reliability of hardware used in these settings is more important than ever before.

For offshore oil and gas operators, unplanned downtime can cost upwards of $88 million.

The Cost of Unreliable Hardware

The idea of running infrastructure to failure is no longer an option. Consider just a few hypothetical, but very possible, situations.

Digitalized Disaster

Take an oil field or rig with an output of 500,000 barrels a day. An IoT networking unit, like a switch, has become corroded, and subsequently, a substation on the network loses connectivity. The ability to extract oil would be impeded, causing considerable upstream loss—meanwhile, the disruption daisy chains into inefficiencies and delays as the pumping of crude oil halts. One corroded component that has failed suddenly costs millions of dollars a day.

Decentralized Disruption

Distributed energy resources (DER) present the benefits of value generation and cost savings. One such example is solar energy and storage. Unfortunately, when a power inverter that is helping the system run experiences water ingress, it can short circuit. This single point of failure can result in a complete shutdown. Just like that, the benefits of value generation and cost reduction disappear to the tone of thousands of dollars in revenue loss. It. It is no longer possible to do arbitrage in terms of charging during the day, and stored energy must be used at night.

The sobering reality is that harsh, extreme environments – oil rigs, mining sites, and electric substations, to name a few – are not easy on electronics. Common contaminants and corrosives, such as salt fog, sulfuric gases, pollutants, inclement weather, humidity, oil, standing water, liquid submersion, and chemical exposure, are expected in energy and industrial operating environments.

As we have seen in our hypothetical discussion, liquid ingress can cause an immediate failure, while corrosion eats away at circuitry, causing an unpredictable shutdown that is hard to detect. Which is more harmful to your business? Dealer’s choice.

What about ruggedized devices? Aren’t they already…ruggedized? Well, at first, yes. Packages, switchgear, and enclosures provide ingress protection from the outside, but unfortunately, degradation, which is quite natural for physical sealing material, occurs, allowing ingress from various types of corrosive agents. Many situations can cause mechanical seals to stop working, including drops and falls, temperature fluctuations, and vibrations. So, although we can initially produce protected devices with these methods, ultimately, they are unreliable.

We are Driving Change at the Design Level

There is a way to achieve reliability and resiliency – talk to our engineers. We deliver best-in-class thin-film Parylene conformal coatings, which form a ubiquitous, pinhole-free, uniform layer over PCBAs and electronic components within devices, protecting from the inside out. Parylene can make a device impervious to liquid, even through long periods of complete submersion. The thin-film protection is delivered using a highly reliable vacuum deposition process, ensuring that each component gets perfect coverage. Even better, HZO reduces Parylene costs and increases efficiency with our optimized, scalable equipment, unique IP portfolio, and winning turnkey solution.

With the exorbitant costs of unplanned downtime and the liabilities presented by mission-critical operation failure, the future of your business is hinging on the reliability of your industrial or energy devices. To succeed in the changing landscape, ensure that the protection method and partner you choose are just as reliable as your devices need to be. To find out more, contact us today.

To explore more, check out our “Industrial Grade Reliability” Video Series.

For offshore oil and gas operators, unplanned downtime can cost upwards of $88 million.

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

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