An important attribute of stainless steel is its ability to provide long term performance with minimum maintenance. Whilst galvanised steel has a lower material cost than stainless steel, the cost of using galvanised steel, over the desired life of the product or system in which it is used, is considerably more.
When deciding whether or not to use stainless steel wire or mesh instead of galvanised steel equivalent, it is important to consider the life expected from the product. If you only need the wire or mesh to last say one year, then the lower cost material is probably the way to go. On the other hand, if you expect a life of 20 or 30 years, you should consider stainless steel.
Whilst it is easy to make an intuitive decision on the choice, how can we determine the exact life point at which stainless steel becomes the best choice? The answer is by calculating the Life Cycle Costing (LCC) of the various alternative materials.
How is Life Cycle Costing Calculated?
Using a complex formula which takes into account:
- Material cost
- Fabrication and installation costs
- Periodic maintenance costs
- Periodic replacement costs
- Cost of lost production or product usage
- Residual value at the end of service life
The lower the LCC, the lower is the true cost of using the material.
LCC has long been used in industries such as defence, airline, offshore oil and gas, railway and power generation and distribution.
The graph below is indicative of the variation of the total cost of using stainless steel and two lower cost alternative materials. The cost of stainless steel changes very little with time. The other two materials are initially cheaper but the costs rise over the years. The step changes are due to the replacement of the component.
The International Chromium Association has developed a PC program to calculate LCC and this is available from the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association (ASSDA).
Ask us about the many projects that we have been involved in where stainless steel wire & mesh have had the lower life cycle costing!