As facilities age, they experience general wear and tear as well as changes and evolutions that can affect the integrity of structural components. Structural inspections, analyses and evaluations are crucial to ensuring safety as well as preventing the need for more extensive rehabilitation of buildings and infrastructure.
Our team has performed inspections for heavy industrial structures, equipment, and buildings at metal processing facilities, power plants, manufacturing complexes, refineries, and mines. During a structural inspection, our team systematically reviews the structural components of buildings and infrastructure to determine whether or not components are performing their functions or are in need of repair. Coupled with our structural analysis capabilities, we use these findings to determine methods of repair and/or replacement.
Our team has performed structural inspections at high elevations, confined spaces and hazardous environments. Typical structural inspections include:
- crane runways
- plant-wide walkways
- pipe racks
- coke batteries and furnaces
- ultrasonic stone and coal silos
- deep mine duct work
- caster spray chambers
- light and cell towers
- various other equipment and structures
We use many criteria to develop priorities for facility inspections, including existing condition of infrastructure, plant operations associated with the inspection area, and safety factors in accessing the inspection area. If an area is flagged by the client as needing immediate attention, we try to address it as soon as possible. Finally, safety controls as well as required PPE are reviewed for the areas needing inspection.
Our observations and opinions are described in detail at the conclusion of the inspection via an official report. Specifically, the report contains findings, recommendations, repair guidelines, photos, and findings location drawing(s), as well as notes any critical repairs found. Having completed dozens of inspections, we have a library of standard repair methods developed for routinely encountered issues that expedites this process.
Evaluations & Analysis
Evaluations and analysis come into play both as part of an inspection program but also as part of planning changes to facilities.
Our team routinely evaluates structures, buildings and structural systems for our clients to ascertain whether their buildings are safe, code compliant and capable of handling the anticipated load.
Certain questions routinely come up: “What can we support off this structure safely?” or “Can this be supported from the roof without bringing the building down on ourselves?” Fork trucks commonly run into building columns; roof trusses and members are used as lifting points. Things get damaged and need to be repaired to maintain the integrity of the structure. Processes, conveyors, cranes, etc. are added regularly to buildings and structures that may overload the building based on added load, snow loads, seismic and wind loads.
We visit the facility to determine the existing loads, the condition of the structure and determine the client’s loading requirements. Based on our study, we report to the client on our findings and recommend a course of action. If reinforcing or modifications are deemed necessary, we will design the reinforcing and repairs necessary. Our structural engineers have vast experience in all types of structural evaluations including water towers, crane runways, trusses, and building framing.
Several years ago, we performed a structural evaluation of over 700 trusses in a major automobile manufacturer’s facility. We determined the actual loading on each truss, compiled the member information on each truss, evaluated their condition, calculated the stresses, and reported the results including whether any trusses needed further study or reinforcing. The truss geometry, members and loading were input into a STAAD program for each truss in question. The client can now contact us and we can quickly advise them concerning the impacts of additional or future loading conditions at the time they are being considered, long before a detailed design has been completed.
We are also regularly called upon by our clients’ advisors regarding safe load ratings for existing structures
such as mezzanines, equipment platforms, storage racks and various support structures. OSHA now requires load ratings to be posted on these types of structures, and we can assist in making this evaluation.
Due to the critical nature of structural integrity, it is prudent that a qualified engineer performs structural inspections, evaluations and analysis. With a dedicated inspection manager, licensed structural engineer, as well as additional staff with decades of experience in structural investigations, we are ready to assist.