Engineering consultants welcome the possibility of performing extensive, in-depth concrete inspection, enabled by the ELOP Insight ultrasound scanner. As consultants, we must help our clients ensure, that “As built” really is “As Built”, says Nils-Petter Aspestrand, Market Director at COWI Norway.
Nils-Petter Aspestrand is responsible for market and business development within COWI’s engineering services to railway projects. In his opinion, engineering consultants have a vital role to play in promoting sustainability in the construction sector. Society, asset owners, and construction companies are looking to the experts for solutions to the sustainability challenge.
According to Aspestrand, an important building block of sustainability is being able to document the exact condition of a newly built asset at handover. You need to know, that what you’ve specified and ordered is in fact what your contractors have delivered. Only then can you design a maintenance and service program, that will secure maximum asset lifetime and thus minimize the environmental footprint of the asset.
Powerful new tool
The arrival of the ELOP Insight scanner is adding a powerful new tool to the inspection toolbox. It can measure the thickness of the construction, detect and size any cracks, air pockets, or honeycombs. The scanner can roll across the concrete surface and deliver continuous 3D footage of its sub-surface condition. It produces more precise and detailed imagery, and on top of that, it’s much faster than conventional ultrasound tools. These capabilities make it the new cornerstone of concrete inspection.
- Currently, Norway is investing heavily in infrastructure, says Aspestrand.
- We’re using large amounts of concrete because much of the new road and rail involves tunnel construction and new bridges. Furthermore, a new offshore wind industry is developing, with a need for concrete foundations. And, we’re seeing new industrial areas, like battery plants, emerging. All this points to a continuing demand for concrete constructions.
Built as specified
According to Aspestrand, asset owners have an obvious interest in doing inspections to verify, that concrete constructions are delivered according to specifications. Today, there are already several methods available. However, the new ELOP Insight scanner offers technology and data that will significantly improve and complement existing systems and tools.
- Asset-owners can ensure much more detailed and precise inspection by adding ELOP Insight to the toolbox. Its new capabilities are much needed right now, and a number of factors are making in-depth inspection as part of the handover more important than ever, says Aspestrand.
- We are seeing a rising number of cases, in which there are discrepancies between what was specified and what was delivered. We see critical fractures, water breakthrough, incorrect mixing ratios etc. These weaknesses can influence the functional capacity of the asset or even compromise structural safety and repairing the damages can be very costly.
In addition to that, to reduce the amount of concrete used in construction, engineers are continually working to optimize their designs, trying to achieve the necessary structural strength with less concrete than before. That trend towards optimization calls for a thorough inspection of the result, to control that what’s being delivered matches the initially specifications, and to ensure the integrity of the structure.
New engineering services
As Nils-Petter Aspestrand points out, engineering consultants are increasingly becoming aware of potential added value they can offer to their clients by helping them secure in-depth inspection of assets before handover. Moreover, they can use the data as a basis to establish monitoring and maintenance programs to prolong the lifetime of these assets.
- Typically, we’ve been focusing on construction. As consultants we are laying the groundwork for contracting and defining what the contractors should deliver. But our customers are more and more focusing on our assistance throughout the building process, including handover documentation. And they want to include us in setting up proper management and maintenance of the asset when it’s in use.
- That trend is a great opportunity for us to deliver more value to our customers, and as engineering consultants we want to be at the forefront. So, apart from producing specifications and project planning documents, and ensuring that all technical matters are dealt with, we are looking into developing services that lay the groundwork for optimizing monitoring and management of assets. That includes scans and analysis related to project handover, to ensure the correct starting point.
Aspestrand predicts, that such new services focusing on sustainability will become very important in the consultancy business, nor least because asset owners soon will be met with conditions and incentives from authorities, on a national level as well as from the EU, to live up to specific environmental requirements.
Forward learning procurers
According to Aspestrand, politicians and businesses are setting sustainability goals and then looking to engineers and other technical experts to come up with solutions. As an example, as the City of Oslo introduced the vision of a zero-emission construction site, there was a very limited amount of non-diesel driven equipment available. But when public procurers and large private contractors start applying pressure, equipment manufacturers begin to innovate. Also, as Nils-Petter Aspestrand points out, that a public owner in Norway recently ordered a hydrogen-powered ferry. However, as it doesn’t exist yet, it needs to be designed from the ground up.
- When forward leaning public procurers start flexing their buying muscles, it will drive innovation to meet the challenges of sustainable solutions, Aspestrand says.
- In my opinion, the ELOP insight scanner represents such a technical answer to our sustainability challenges. It’s an efficient equipment that has the potential to create new possibilities to deliver on these goals. And it’s in fact only a small investment, when you compare it to the overall price of the concrete construction. When you’re an asset owner, it may be the cheapest insurance you can buy.
- As an engineering consultant, I see it as an exciting new possibility to ensure both quality and longevity of concrete infrastructure, and as consultants we will be working to influence our customers to take advantage of its capabilities.