For many years, we have provided a range of destructive/non-destructive structural investigations on road, rail and building environments. Over that time, we have remained committed to staying at the forefront of technological development and training our teams to use the latest exploratory techniques.
I believe, that for the time being at least, there will remain a need for intrusive investigations. However, there are many projects where non-destructive techniques can be used to supplement intrusive data, allow a more targeted approach to intrusive works and/or allow investigation of hidden defects/elements that would be too costly or too destructive to investigate by intrusive methods. This lighter touch all assists in minimising the damage to the structure and providing data in a timely manner. Radar and ultrasonic testing are now coming of age in structural applications.
Smaller, Faster, Smarter testing
In years gone by, using radar and ultrasonic technology in non-destructive investigations was a labour intensive and challenging process. I remember radar antennae and ancillaries that would fill a table top and would need two people to lift and operate them. This size and weight often meant that using them in limited spaces wasn’t an option. Combined with lower imaging resolution than can now be achieved this meant that they didn’t deliver the clarity we look for in our investigations.
However, as we have seen across a variety of technology in recent years, radar and ultrasonic systems have come on leaps and bounds. Now you have smaller, compact units that are easily used by a single operator and deployed in more confined or restrictive environments.
I recently saw this technology in action on a structural investigation of a highway bridge. We used a hand-held radar system to assist with finding voiding in tendon ducts of the post-tensioning systems.
A lot of work has been undertaken to define the correct frequencies to be used on these types of investigations. This has resulted in a reliable range of high and low frequencies that can be used; allowing us to conduct and reliably repeat scans at various depths and across a wide range of applications.
We used this to help predict where voids were in the structure. This comprehensive data helped create a risk-score across a number of spans of the structure and supported interpretive reporting for the client; giving them the insight they required.
This technology is a great choice for non-destructive investigations for:
- Voiding and cracks
- Thickness of materials
- Element composition
- Non-ferrous materials
- Hidden defects and structural detail
New techniques like this continue to push the boundaries of our capabilities and ensure we’re able to provide insight and data not previously achievable for our clients.
Our specialist structural division can assess the overall condition and deterioration of structural concrete and steel reinforcement within bridges and culverts and assess the suitability for refurbishment of buildings. We offer bespoke testing and investigation packages in line with individual project requirements and objectives.