Galvanizing: The Sustainable Choice

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With its winning combination of long-lasting protection, ease of application and sustainability, galvanizing is the finish of choice for many industries across the globe including construction, manufacturing, and agriculture.  By its very nature, the construction industry alone has a significant impact on the environment – accounting for 36% of worldwide energy usage and 40% of CO² emissions*.  It’s no surprise therefore that the introduction of ever-more stringent environmental rules and regulations, as well as the high costs and ethical factors relating to industry, is seeing the increasing numbers of contractors looking to adopt more environmentally-friendly processes turning to galvanizing.

One organisation at the very forefront of industry which is helping those across a wealth of sectors become ‘greener’ is Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd, the largest hot-dip galvanizing organisation in the UK.  Over the past 12 months alone, the team has worked on a diverse range of projects including the refurbishment of one of the busiest heritage railways in the country, the creation of a centrepiece for the new Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) at Cranfield University, and the construction of an iconic housing development in central Mayfair.

As true heavy-weights in their field, Wedge Group Galvanizing’s Sales and Marketing Director, Andy Harrison, explains the galvanizing process step-by-step, what makes it such a sustainable option, and why it is increasingly becoming adopted by UK industries…

Hot dip galvanizing is essentially the process of coating clean steel with a layer of molten zinc to protect the item from corrosion and provide a long-lasting, durable surface. It’s more robust than other coatings that only bond chemically or mechanically, and it has the added advantage of fully coating the steel. As a finish, it is not only highly effective, but is also extremely eco-friendly.  A single, one-off treatment will coat a product both inside and out, providing a finish which can protect steel and keep it maintenance-free for over 70 years, considerably more in the right conditions.

This means that the whole life costs of products protected by the hot-dip galvanizing process can be significantly reduced because there is no need for the expense, down-time and inconvenience of repeated on-site maintenance or replacement.

Not only does galvanizing lengthen the lifespan of steel, but it is highly energy-efficient throughout its production and whole lifecycle. The galvanizing process uses minimal resources to ensure a relatively low environmental burden. Zinc’s non-ferrous properties mean steel can easily be recycled after use or re-galvanized or removed and reused elsewhere.

As a company, Wedge Group Galvanizing is leading the way by introducing a number of highly innovative and sophisticated elements to reduce waste, promote better use of resources, and improve energy efficiency. To improve both fuel efficiency and performance all plants use the most innovative pulse-fired high velocity furnace systems which provide high fuel efficiency, low heat loss, low emission levels and extends the life of the kettle.

Another example of how the company, and the wider industry, is cutting energy consumption is the re-use of ‘waste’ heat created from the furnaces used in the galvanizing process. All of its plants have been fitted with heat exchanger units that transfer the ‘waste’ heat generated back into the overall process for use within both the pre-flux and de-grease tanks.  The company also has rainwater collection and harvesting systems which recycles rainwater back into the galvanizing process.

With the ongoing efforts being made within industry to ensure that practises and procedures are as environmentally-friendly as possible, and with many subsequently adopting galvanizing as their finish of choice, it seems that as a process it is set to long remain a leader in the sustainability stakes.

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Did You Know? Galvanizing is…

 

Versatile

The versatility and durability of galvanizing mean that it’s the protective coating of choice for a diverse and growing number of sectors including agriculture, construction, automotive and renewable energy.  Its innate ability to coat both large simple structures and small intricate pieces also sees it utilised by artists, sculptors, and architects.

Galvanizing is effective in even the harshest of environments – providing maintenance-free protection against a wide range of corrosive elements from atmospheric conditions such as rain and snow, marine locations, and industrial and chemical processes.

Sustainable

Zinc is an inherently ‘green’ metal as it can be recycled over and over again without any loss to its physical or chemical properties. This means that, as part of the galvanizing process, any zinc that doesn’t instantly form a coating on the steel remains in the galvanizing bath.

The result of using zinc within the galvanizing process is corrosion protection which can last over 70 years (depending on the environment in which it’s used) without the need for any time- or resource-intensive maintenance and/or replacement. Galvanized steel can also be easily recycled with steel scrap, re-galvanized, or removed and re-used elsewhere.

The process itself involves the use of natural components which can be repurposed, and other resources are used considerately throughout to ensure a minimal environmental burden.

Innovative

While it has historic roots (it dates back to the mid-1700s), the emergence of new technologies and continuing investment by the industry means that galvanizing – today as valuable to a diverse range of sectors as it’s ever been – is a process that has absolutely moved with the times.

Developments such as high-velocity ‘smart’ furnaces, fume extraction units, and heat recovery systems have helped to optimise production and enhance performance, whilst the introduction of equipment such as inverters has delivered significant savings in power consumption.

And, though the metallurgy has remained largely the same over the centuries, that’s now changing too – with the Wedge Group becoming the first galvanizing organisation in the UK to take the ambitious decision to completely remove lead and chrome from its process.

Galvanizer of Choice

Wedge Group Galvanizing has also achieved a group-wide Net Promoter® Score (NPS) of 65, significantly higher than the industry benchmark.

NPS is a client satisfaction and service quality metric based on a single survey question that asks staffing clients how likely they are to recommend your firm. Clients respond using a numeric scale of 0-10, ten being extremely likely and zero being not likely at all.

NPS is calculated by subtracting the % of detractors (those who respond with a 6 or lower) from the % of promoters (those who respond with 9 or 10).

According to ClearlyRated’s 2021 annual industry benchmark report, the average NPS scores for the manufacturing and commercial construction sectors were 47 and 50 respectively. Scores between minus 100 to 0 need improvement, 0 to 30 is good, 30 to 70 is considered great, and above 70 is excellent.

The firm undertakes the customer service surveys monthly through the globally renowned scheme which measures customer loyalty and satisfaction.

“The last 18 months have been increasingly challenging and all our sites remained open throughout the pandemic to service the needs of our customers” explained Chris Woolridge, Managing Director of Wedge Group Galvanizing. “It’s testament to our teams who have worked safely and so hard to keep up with the high demand whilst maintaining such an impressive customer service rating.

“Our Customer Promise is lived and breathed by each and every one of our 14 plants. It’s a promise that we make as a group to our customers, to be flexible, to provide excellence in product and service quality, to seek their views to continue improving our service and to utilise our national network of plants.”

Wedge Group Galvanizing continues to enhance its galvanizing service with investment in new vehicle fleet, new galvanizing plant and equipment (with its Worksop plant having the biggest bath in the UK), technology enhancements, as well as a commitment to further invest in more sustainable practices.

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Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd is the largest hot dip galvanizing organisations in the UK with a history dating back over 150 years.  With 14 plants strategically placed across the country, they offer a truly national galvanizing service.

For further information please contact Wedge Group Galvanizing on 01902 601944 or visit www.wedge-galv.co.uk.

*https://www.iea.org/topics/energy-efficiency

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