Materials.Business Weekly ⚙️
March 09, 2021
Quote of the week: “The more of it there are, the more Latino engineers and scientists there are, the more chances we have that those children have la chispa (the spark), where they say: 'I want to be that.” — Diana Trujillo, Colombian Aerospace Engineer, and NASA Mars Perseverance Flight Director.
From The Editor's Corner
THE VALUE OF INTANGIBLE ASSETS
The intangible is also worth a lot
Last month, after a five-year court battle, the USA Federal Circuit Judge ruled that the US Navy must pay nearly USD $600 million in compensation to the German company Bitmanagement Software GmbH. But why? Well, the initial business transaction between the two included Bitmanagement selling 38 licenses worth USD $5.490 for a tracking software program that monitored simultaneous VR users doing Navy installations and services. This software program was protected by the US copyrighting office. However, 430.000 extra copies of the software were distributed throughout the Navy, “without authorization, without a license, and without payment." Although the product itself was just “knowledge” or somewhat know-how, it was still an asset; an intangible one. This was not the first time that this happened, but nevertheless, it is not a court’s usual judgment in such a sense. Copyright is an issue of intellectual property, and protecting this kind of asset of growing importance.
“Knowledge is Power”
As quoted (or sometimes paraphrased) by the many great minds in humanity’s history, including Francis Bacon, Thomas Jefferson, and others; Knowledge is power. We are talking about the step by step increasing relevance of knowledge with time. Sage, wise, erudite, savant, guru, smart, and sapient are just examples of words we give to those with any influence because of their higher knowledge. Some centuries ago, knowledge started to be formally protected by tools like patents. In a way, it was a kind of recognition for its economic value, and so the quote could be adjusted to “knowledge is money.” The fundament of patenting is based on a social contract that guarantees the exclusivity of the financial exploitation of the protected knowledge to the patent owner for a certain amount of time. For example, last February, the US patent safeguarding Stratasys’ right over its famous heated build chamber for 3D printing expired. Sometimes, patent owners are the inventors themselves and are very well known, e.g., Thomas Alva Edison and Alfred Nobel. According to Economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx, during the First Industrial Revolution, land, labor, and capital were the primary inputs or factors for profits generated by a business.
However, the amount of knowledge found in the world was forever increasing. So in the 1950s, Robert Solow found that it was necessary to add a new factor to explain the excess of founded total production using the original equation. This unique factor is now known as the so-called “the Solow residual” or total factor productivity – TFP; a factor aimed at capturing the role of knowledge in economic growth. This was the foundation for the “Knowledge Society.” A few decades later emerged the “globalization” model of development, which was supported on the leg of ITC on one side and the Knowledge Society on the other. Subsequently, innovation became perhaps the more critical factor in the TFP equation, besides capital and land (raw materials, buildings, hardware, fabrics, vehicles, etc.), or just workforce.
Moreover, about ten years ago, the world stepped into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. One of the characteristics of this Industrial Revolution is that the influence of knowledge as a productivity factor is growing exponentially (not a residual!). Undoubtedly, this will be the new era’s main feature after the pandemic; the “post-globalization.” Visible forces from land, labor, and capital, are being substituted by invisible or dark ones (remember the dark forces of the universe proposed by Einstein?), with knowledge at the top, just look at the example of the astronomic increase of the value of pharmaceutical companies just because of prospects (intangible) regarding the CoVID-19 vaccine.
Corrosion, anticorrosion, and industrial asset management in the post-globalization era
Most of our efforts point to taking care of materials, parts, and equipment in economic sectors like manufacturing, O&G, utilities, chemical & pharma, mining, transportations & warehousing, construction, & building. Most of these are capital-intensive sectors with substantial physical assets to protect against deterioration. However, the essence of the current industrial revolution is the integration between the physical and virtual worlds. Currently, most of us do not use a GPS gadget in our car anymore; instead, we either use a vehicle with an integrated GPS software tool or our phone. This was a change that happened in less than ten years since the gadget's first appearance on the market (see how change is accelerated?). Consequently, some of the physical assets are moving to be digital ones, and so we can say that the sectors mentioned above are shifting to more knowledge-intensive ones. These sectors move slower than sectors like ICT or media, but nevertheless, moving. In the future, corrosionist will not need to care for the physical inventory. Technologies such as additive manufacturing are driving the transformation of physical to digital parts in stock. Companies should now worry about incorporating knowledge into the digital libraries and all their software programs—intangible, non-corrodible assets. Although, printers must be cared by corrosionist.
Moreover, a corrosionist is an expert, a person with valuable knowledge, an intangible asset. Tangible assets must be protected, and so must the intangible ones too. Intangible assets include non-physical but identifiable assets, such as goodwill (brand recognition, customer loyalty, and others that cannot exist independently), which cannot be sold, purchased, or transferred separately. Other intangible assets such as website domain names, intellectual property (industrial secrets, patents, trademarks, copyrights, licensing agreements, etc.), franchises, computer software, films, etc., can be bought and sold independently of the business itself.
The symbiosis between the physical and digital worlds brings significant changes not only in our personal lives but in companies’ lives too. Below is a comparison of the Top 10 most valuable enterprises in the world from way back then and now:
According to these two lists, financial and other tangible assets completely lost their value compared to intangible assets. In 1989, intangibles were not of value to companies. Nowadays, intangibles are “the value.”
Another way of approaching the changes that are happening now concerns the average time it takes for a company to reach a USD $1.000 million valuation, which used to be 20 years on average. In contrast, now, it only takes four years for digital start-ups to reach this value. Nowadays, things that are easier to be accountable for are less valuable (e.g., physical assets) than items that are difficult to account for (e.g., intangible assets) in the companies’ financial statements. Now, we must ask ourselves, how big has the effect been of the slow-movement towards digitalization in the capital-intensive sectors? Well, big. Now it’s the time for corrosionists to become in charge of intangible asset management. To answer how to do this requires us to look at some considerations about duties and priorities.
What we need to do
The starting point is the knowledge of corrosion science and engineering. Looking at this, there are some topics to keep in mind by corrosionists in the post-globalization era:
- Staff education and training. It’s good to remember that industrial concerns and efforts about corrosion grew in the 1950s and 1960s. Reasons included estimating the cost of the problem and the subsequent birth and strengthening professional associations and universities’ interest in the subject. As a result, companies had well-trained personnel during the following decades. But companies were not prepared for managing knowledge, and so consequently, knowledge on corrosion handling was not well documented, as most of it was just kept in the staffs’ minds. And so, most of the knowledge, especially company-specific information, was gone when employees left the company. People worked for three or four decades before they retired, and there were and still are not any proper generational switching plans. Furthermore, universities began cutting specific corrosion topics in their curricula many years ago. And so, to avoid any loss of knowledge, some tasks that need to be done include further interaction between companies and universities, better documentation processes, and effective management of the personnel moving.
- Knowledge is the principal company asset today and must be appropriately managed. Corrosionists must use their expertise according to the possibilities while protecting and enriching it in the best possible way. Likewise, for protecting goodwill, the corrosionist must produce intangible assets like designs, methodologies, procedures, algorithms, software, books, films, industrial solutions, and inventions, and protect them through industrial secret, copyright, patent, licensing agreement, franchising, etc. This means that basic training in intellectual property management is essential.
- Information is becoming the “raw material” by excellence. Data, ideas, communications, emotions “are becoming more valuable than oil” because they are the current inputs of the TFP equation (today, we pay international calls and other services with our information). Therefore, “catching” them is vital for a corrosionist looking for the new era's intangible and mixed enterprises, the “dark economy.” Issues concerning information include generation, transmission, analysis, validation, and processing. Technological surveillance is an instrument for spotting relevant information, and we need to do that. It is necessary to follow new trends, research projects under development, new inventions, innovations within businesses, and potential partners and rivals. Looking for a competitive advantage must be looked at as “strategic intelligence” and used as an analytic tool for exploiting the vast amount of information available today and for decision-making support. Thinking about the above issues, six months ago, we launched Materials Business as a platform full of valuable information for your decisions about physical and digital industrial assets performance and protection.
Remember: Protection of materials and equipment is a profitable business!
Prof. Carlos Arroyave, Ph.D. Editor.
Materials Biz News
Call for applications - Virtual reality short film
The European Federation of Corrosion - EFC - wishes to promote innovative concepts in the field of Virtual Reality (VR). The term "VR" is appreciably broad and includes all types of simulations in a VR environment, such as VR experiences/VR animations/augmented reality (AR) or technology-oriented production approaches based on VR/AR. In a short film, specific corrosion phenomena are to be presented to the public in a clear and effective way. The length of the film should be between 2 and a maximum of 5 minutes. The call for applications has started on February 22nd, 2021, and the deadline for applications is March 31st, 2021. Institutions, groups as well as individuals can apply. Concepts from young students who are still studying or working on graduate studies in the field of materials science, chemical engineering, chemical engineering, or a related discipline are especially desirable. Applicants should cover at least the areas of directing, look, technical directing and production. The basis of the application should be a project concept. After pre-selection, up to six teams will be invited to interviews. Then, up to three projects will be selected. During the entire project, from the concept phase to the prototype ready for presentation, EFC's experts are available at any time for consultations. After submission, a jury will evaluate the work and the best application will be awarded the prize money. The EFC may not award any prizes if no qualified applications are received by the EFC. The prizes consist of:
- 1st prize: certificate and €1,250
- 2nd prize: certificate and €500
- 3rd prize: certificate and €250
Applications must be submitted in English and include a concept that should cover the following aspects of their project design:
- Content and storytelling
- Graphics, design and technical implementation
- Scientific relevance, if applicable
- Production plan
- Biography of the participants
For further information and submission of applications please contact Dr. Roman Bender.
Drones helping us with infrastructure inspection
The North Caroline Department of Transportation in the USA has started to inspect its infrastructure with drones. Two weeks ago, the NCDOT personnel conducted the biennial inspection of the 4.5 km Marc Basnight Bridge over the Oregon Inlet, using a “Skydio 2” drone as a complementary tool for the visual, traditional inspection. The crew monitored live high-definition video feeds from the drone as it was flown around the bridge’s ten largest columns, looking for any potential defects that would require further action. Savings in time, money, and lane closures were evident.
To strengthen asset performance is a duty facing sustainability goals
This is a purpose by Baker Hughes, an energy technology company with a century of experience and operations in over 120 countries, because it recently announced an agreement to acquire ARMS Reliability. In such a way, Baker Hughes seeks to get a broader range of industrial asset management expertise, integrating new digital solutions for duties as data capture, integration, visualization, and analytics. As a result, the Company would enhance industrial operational efficiencies, extended asset lifecycles, and less non-productive downtime to sectors like mining, power, manufacturing, and utilities.
Materials.Business is seeking an undergraduate interested in a part-time freelance position as an assistant to the Editor.
The basic profile of the candidate:
- Education: Engineering student with major in Materials, Metallurgy, Chemistry, or related.
- Technical skills: Knowledge of electrochemistry fundamentals, organizational skills and attention to detail, and English grammar reviewing (excellent English writing).
- Bonus: Native English speaker and academic relations with a research group dealing with science and engineering materials or related. Eventually, any recommendation by a staff member.
Job description: An expected dedication of 15 hours per week, devoted to assisting with issues like publishing the newsletter on popular social media platforms, searching useful information to be included, a detailed review of the grammar of each newsletter before publication, to support strategies of adherence, and eventually to write short notes to be included in the newsletter.
Candidates, please send a CV and any other related information to [email protected] until Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021.
Position: Process Engineer
Location: Guadalupe, Greater Monterrey, Mexico.
The basic profile of the candidate:
- Education: Engineering degree.
- Experience: Over three years of experience in manufacturing processes.
- Technical skills: Skills in Minitab management and knowledge of Lean Six Sigma and ergonomic fundamentals.
Job description: Control and analyze the production processes to obtain products with the expected quality and cost. Make improvements aimed at increasing productivity, quality, and safety of the whole process.
The Department of Metallic Construction Materials, at Technopark Kralupy of the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Czech Republic, is chaired by our colleague Dr. Tomáš Prošek, current Vice President of the European Federation of Corrosion. Right now, such Department is offering a postdoc position funded by the Czech Science Foundation - GAČR -. The research’s primary goal will be to study surface properties’ effect on hydrogen dissociation in gaseous media and corrosion-induced hydrogen evolution reaction in thin electrolytes.
Networking & Knowledge Exchange
Biz use of patent information. Virtual
On-demand. The e-learning center of the European Patent Academy of the European Patent Office offers a free opportunity to learn about patent information to improve the entrepreneurs' competitiveness, based on the strategic intelligence analysis of patent information. Instructional material is a one-hour webinar including three main topics about the subject: Why patent information matters, patent intelligence, and evaluation of the significance of patents.
Cost of corrosion matters. Virtual
The Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute – QEERI -- of the Hamad Bin Khalifa University will host a webinar entitled "Is Rust a Cancer for Qatar's Environment?" Surely it is! The speaker will be Dr. Hanan Farhat, Senior Research Director of the Corrosion Center, QEERI. Dr. Farhat will show and discuss why corrosion's annual cost in the Arab countries reaches about USD $ 140.000 million and how corrosion affects all the habitats.
Date: Wednesday, March 17th, 2021.
Time: 17:00 QST (GMT + 3).
The above is the title of the one-hour webinar organized by Material Performance (AMPP) in partnership with Carboline. The speech will be given by the Carboline staff members Brian Cheshire, Market Manager for Water/Wastewater Carboline, and John Kloepper. Topics to be covered are:
- The need for rehabilitation, repair, and preventive maintenance in today's wastewater infrastructure
- The common forms of corrosion found in wastewater environments
- Protective coating types, along with their key benefits and limitations
- The various substrates found in wastewater assets and key considerations for coating these surfaces
- Coating specifications and some of the necessary components that need to be included to fit into your corrosion control plan
Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2021.
Time: 14:00 EST (GMT - 5).