Traditional building materials are of course susceptible to ageing and deterioration effects. RSS always recommends that a proactive, whole-life approach to repair and maintenance work should be adopted. Short-term repair solutions often lead to costly and disruptive re-visits which have a negative effect on the long-term productivity and sustainability of a site.
Diagnosing and dealing with structural deterioration on a whole-life basis is a highly specialised discipline. This skill requires an in-depth knowledge of deterioration modes and also the unit costs of the wide range of specialist repair solutions that can be applied to deal with infrastructure decay. At RSS we have the skill and experience to support clients that require a range of whole-life costed options for dealing with each structural deterioration issue.
For example, the range of deterioration modes of reinforced concrete is both varied and complex. Fault diagnosis, and the specification of whole-life remedial work, in reinforced concrete is therefore a highly specialised area.
In the case of structural steelwork, corrosion induced deterioration, in the humid conditions often found in the chemical processing environment, accelerates quickly. What at first appears as a minor maintenance issue is often deferred until a later unknown date. Corrosion rust deposits build up over time and can mask a serious loss of load carrying capacity of structural elements.
When the seriousness of the situation is eventually exposed, repairs or replacement can be very costly. Worse still, the execution of the repair work can require processes to be temporarily shut-down causing consequential costs to escalate significantly.
The consequences of failing to promptly identify and correctly deal with structural steelwork deterioration do not end there. If a structural failure causes and accident or incident the HSE will not hesitate to prosecute. The financial penalty and damage to reputation is always significant.
RSS always recommends that proactive approach should be adopted to inspect and maintain structural steelwork. Timely identification and intervention on corrosion induced defects will reduce whole-life costs and ensure that maintenance can be carried out on a planned, not reactive, basis.
With regard to masonry, many ageing brick built structures and buildings on chemical sites are now showing significant signs of deterioration. For example, corrosion of steel wall ties on old buildings is a significant problem that can lead to loss of structural integrity. Opting for simple localised repairs can often only serve to hide structural issues that could have serious consequences in the future. RSS is an accredited inspector of the complex and varied deterioration modes of brickwork. We are also approved to specify and carry out the specialist repairs required in order to achieve an optimal whole-life outcome.
Failing to implement a timely inspection and whole-life maintenance regime will usually result in the need for costly infrastructure repairs when assets finally enter the final phase of their life cycle. Furthermore, where site structures are employed in safety critical service, for example the support of pressure containing vessels, the Competent Authority will expect to see evidence of a suitable and sufficient planned maintenance regime to tackle age related structural deterioration. Worse still, we have seen safety critical structures classified as unsafe. This has resulted in process shutdowns while urgent repairs are carried out.