India Needs Corrosion Free Infrastructure to Ensure Human Safety: Suri
Yatinder Suri, Country Head Outokumpu India Pvt Ltd

India loses Rs 80,000 crore per annum on account of corrosion in manufacturing, petroleum, chemical and fertilisers, oil & gas, transportation, power, highway and railways sectors. According to reports, proper management can save up to 25 per cent of the money spent by companies on account of corrosion in different sectors.

Not just in India, but industries across the globe face calamitous consequences of unpleasant incidents caused due to corrosion, one of the latest being the chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia’s biggest drinking water supply for days. In a recently released report, The US Chemical Safety Board revealed that ‘holes in a tank’s floor and roof’ might have been caused due to corrosion. The board has reportedly collected the ‘metal and other material’ to investigate the possible failure mode for the tanks.

The scenario is similar in India or rather more unsafe as there have been a number of deaths due to the incidents that occurred because of utter negligence of the companies towards the deteriorating infrastructure. Structures must be corrosion free and hence the significance of corrosion resistant material cannot be ignored.

Duplex Steel
We interact with Yatinder Suri, Country Head of Outokumpu India Pvt Ltd - a company that is creating awareness about the innovative corrosion resistant material amongst project owners and end users by engaging consultants and specifiers, organising seminars and workshops and participating in different conferences to exhibit immense potential of different grades of steel – to understand ‘Duplex Steel’ a material that is getting a push in the industry.

According to Suri, “Duplex Stainless steel was invented by Outokumpu in mid-thirties for pulp and paper sector in Sweden but it was commercially manufactured in late eighties and became a preferred choice for most corrosive applications in the nineties.”

The Duplex story started to unfold in India after Outokumpu was set up in late 2006. At the time, there was no awareness. In 2008, it started an aggressive campaign with the support from Outokumpu’s R&D wing and with visibly positive signs of acceptance the company witnessed remarkable demand in oil & gas, chemical processing, desalination, rail and road bridges and also, in the railways, he adds. The other high-end grades gaining acceptance are super austenitic 904L and 253MA for high temperature areas. Even stabilised ferritics have gained immensely for ABC segments.

Commenting further on product development, he reveals, “Enhancing corrosion resistance and substantial increase in mechanical strength are the guiding principles on product development and improving sustainability in everything we do which makes us the best in class. We are the global benchmark in sustainability as per Dow Jones in steel segment. The carbon free energy used in our manufacturing process is as high as 90 per cent and the recycled proportion of raw materials is above 80 per cent.”

Ensuring Human Safety
Despite the fact that the consumption of innovative material in Indian industry has increased, it is still not as good as the consumption of such material in other parts of the world. “Duplex usage is surely lagging behind in India as compared to the consumption in rest of the world due to two reasons ie, late start and slow growth in manufacturing sector in the country,” Suri agrees. However, he observes that the usage has increased in various applications such as oil tanks at refineries and ports, evacuation pipelines in natural gas fields, heat exchangers in petrochemicals, oil platforms, umbilicals in deep sea exploration, columns and tanks in leeching process in mines, desalination process to convert sea water into drinking water, and rail and road bridges in coastal areas and hilly areas and even for rail coaches and wagons.

The benefit of Duplex lies in weight reduction. You gain more strength with less material. Suri explains that when a carbon steel tank is replaced with Duplex, the biggest savings can be gained in the manufacturing as well as maintenance phases. There are potential savings exceeding 25 per cent in life cycle cost. “Outokumpu Duplex has proven its worth around the world and many success stories are being written in India as well,” he states.

Suri strongly feels that only corrosion free infrastructure can ensure human safety and add cost advantages through lowest life cycle cost.

He draws attention to some of the recent horrible accidents and opines that safety of human life must not be treated casually. “Frequently, we read news about deaths of innocent Indians due to carelessness of the corporates in maintaining their assets. Leakages from oil pipelines leading to contamination of agricultural land in the South, leakages from oil tanks leading to fire, explosion and deaths, or more recently gas pipelines leakage that killed more than a dozen innocent Indians, are some of these agonising incidents.”

“The government-owned corporates in oil sectors have super profitability and therefore they must have excellent human safety policy too. Why should they be allowed to compromise on costs and use inferior products which corrode and fail and kill innocent citizens?” he questions.

India: An Important Destination
Outokumpu has introduced various new grades to improve the product basket with respect to the applications in 2014. Grade 1.4220 has high strength and is high corrosion resistant compared to 316. In Duplex family, new grades FDX25 and FDX27 have been added with improved formability. The company has introduced NORSOK approved EDX2304 which has enhanced mechanical properties compared to 2304 grade for the oil and gas sector. Similarly in ferritic range a better corrosion resistant grade has been introduced as 1.4622. Suri claims that all these grades offer an excellent cost competitive advantage to end users in critical segments.

India is an important destination. On company’s growth in the country, Suri reveals that India is a cash-strapped nation and it needs to spend each penny in its new investments wisely. This means opting for sustainable materials which offer the lowest life cycle cost and improved availability of infrastructure with no disruption. “We see a great future for our new age materials in the Indian context,” he asserts. He reveals more on the company’s investment plans and says that the company indeed had some plans for India in 2008, but due to imposition of import barriers, it could not happen, and now the future plans entirely depend on the policies of the new government. “We are very selective about our local partnerships since our compliance levels must be matched on the code of conduct, sustainability vision, and ethical policies,” he informs. “We are serving the domestic needs of the emerging applications directly and we also have our stock arrangement in Mumbai as our committed support for the SMEs who need reliable quality products. We are committed to localisation and we are willing to support downstream manufacturing and processing companies to make world class downstream products available locally. Our vision is to create a world that lasts forever and for sure, India is an important part of this vision.”

Suri also updates on the recently changed operational model and leadership within the company and says, “December 2012 was a historical moment as we started the journey of the new Outokumpu. Combining the power of two – Outokumpu and Inoxum – we now offer the broadest range of products and strongest technical know-how of any stainless steel provider.”

The company is in a unique position to work closely with its customers and partners around the world, to create materials for the tools of modern life, and for the world’s most critical problems — like clean energy, water and efficient infrastructure. “We are building on our strong heritage in product quality and technical expertise while becoming even better at customer orientation, speed and reliability. Together with customers, we build a more sustainable world,” Suri concludes.