Structural inspections: What is at stake?
Ensuring that structures are well-preserved, kept fully operational and safe for the public, under tight budget constraints, is an enormous challenge for owners and concession holders alike.
These inspections shall deliver:
– a general overview;
– a sound observation of structural behaviour;
– in-depth understanding of pathologies and ageing mechanisms;
– The condition of critical structural components – such as waterproofing systems, post-tensioning cables, bearings and joints must be part of any inspection campaign.
Non-destructive testing, intrusive investigations, sampling and fully digital documentation of inspection results are key to prepare for a targeted and informed assessment.
By combining existing as-built information, historical data and results from thorough inspection and testing, an updated model of the structure can be established. This model is an essential tool to assess the structures condition, as well as structural capacity by means of calculation.
As specialists in structural systems and technologies, as well as being specialist engineers and builders, VSL understands both structures and their most critical components. This allows us to deliver the most suitable visual and technology enhanced inspections, non-destructive testing, intrusive investigations and material sampling.
VSL is placing a specific focus on the non-destructive testing (NDT) of internal and external post-tensioning tendons, and the use of digital tools to keep track of inspection results and allow quick post-processing and imaging of findings.
Being not a developer nor manufacturer of non-destructive testing equipment, VSL is independent and is able to select the most suitable tool according to the project, which brings true value-for-money to inspection and assessment.
Combining engineering and contracting capabilities, VSL can deliver one-stop services dealing with access and equipment requirements, providing trained and experienced inspectors, as well as carrying out the necessary back-office assessment work. While our in-house engineering teams can provide complete structural assessments, we equally like to partner with consultants or owners advising on and delivering the most suitable inspection strategy.
What are the VSL structural inspections solutions?
- Complete inspection and assessment packages or individual services:
- Review of as-built and maintenance records
- Initial site visits to establish inspection and assessment plans
- Field inspection campaigns by experienced engineers and technicians including access solutions for arms-length inspections
- Post-tensioning specialist inspections
- Cable stay inspections
- Ground anchor inspections
- Inspections of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls
- Photographic surveys including photogrammetry
- Non-destructive testing making use of the most advanced technologies such as radar, ultra-sonics and radiographic imaging technologies as well as electro-chemical corrosion measurements
- Invasive inspections incl. endoscopy and material sampling for laboratory testing
- Usage of state-of-the-art digital tools to collect and visualize data and BIM interfaces
- Condition assessment
- Structural assessment based on updated structural models incorporating inspection findings and updated load models
Inspections can occur as part of a regular, scheduled inspection campaign (under a global maintenance plan), in preparation for upgrading the structure, and/or after an incident or special observation.
2. If necessary VSL can propose instrumentation and monitoring solutions following an inspection to measure the behaviour of the structure over time. The consolidation of data from inspection campaigns and data derived from monitoring allows to understand the evolution of the structure’s condition and manage the risk related to undetected sudden failure.