Maintenance, Preservation and Operation

This work comes in response to the understandable concern of the different administrations and public and private agencies for the maintenance and evaluation of infrastructures. INES is a pioneer in this aspect, and focuses on the development of tools to improve and streamline infrastructure maintenance, preservation and operation.

Past history or medical history:
  • Document collection and search
  • Preparation of inventory
  • Routine inspections
  • Major inspections
Analysis and diagnostics:
  • Studies on deterioration processes
  • Studies on technical and building possibilities
  • Fatigue and service analysis
  • Useful life studies
  • Feasibility studies
  • Technical-economic analysis
  • Monitoring and control
Therapy:
  • Repair Projects
  • Reinforcement Projects
  • Functional adaptation projects
  • Use and load limitations
  • Demolition projects
Prognosis and Monitoring:
  • Maintenance and integral preservation plans
  • Training Plans
  • Monitoring and follow-up campaigns
  • Audits

It is becoming increasingly accepted that having a management tool based on technical and economic criteria, agreed upon by the technicians of the Public Administrations and specialists in design and construction, allows a great reduction in operating costs over the whole building lifecycle (design, construction, maintenance and demolition).

This perception is gaining popularity among owner or manager Administrations, consultants, technology providers and other professionals that, in an inevitably multidisciplinary environment, must work hand in hand during the infrastructure operation phase. It is important to note that 60% of the projected construction sector investment in Spain for 2010 corresponds to operation (repair, strengthening, rehabilitation, change of use, heritage preservation, etc) and 40% corresponds to new works, so the trend of recent years has been reversed and there is a tendency to converge with what is already happening in countries like Germany, Britain, Italy or France.

The ultimate goal therefore is to provide the various administrations with a tool that allows them to make swift decisions that make maintenance more efficient. This is the context in which the INES team has been created.

On one hand, INES has a staff that specializes in the development of infrastructure projects, in developing infrastructure management systems and in operation engineering. On the other hand, the company specializes in the development and integration of geographic information systems and relies on specialized personnel and the software and hardware tools necessary to tackle this type of work most effectively.

Finally, its recent experience has involved working on maintenance and management projects with Public Administrations (ADIF, Public Works Ministry and municipalities), private customers (CINTRA, ABERTIS, ITINERE, etc.) and International Organizations (UIC).

The tasks included within the scope of maintenance, preservation and operation can be compared to the different phases which are common practice in medicine:

History

(medical records) or data gathering and history of each structure and the incidents involving its particular elements. Ultimately, it means that an analysis of the project documents and the different interventions to which the structures have been subjected to is performed.

Analysis

or study of the infrastructure behavior under direct or indirect actions. This analysis shall be based on its history to represent the historical reality of the structure as closely as possible. Moreover, for practical purposes, it shall conform to the actual documentation available, that is, there must be a proportionate balance between data and means of analysis, in keeping with the intended purpose.

Diagnostics

or determination of the cause or causes that have led to the perceived effects. It is not difficult to understand that this step is essential to base future actions on solid criteria. Indeed, a misdiagnosis can result in a wrong decision, whether one decides to intervene or not. Unfortunately, formulating a diagnosis is not always straightforward and is subject to the concurrence of several factors that can be caused by an extremely varied number of reasons. Understandably, it is especially important that this task be performed by a truly specialized and multidisciplinary team. The diagnostics are based on history and analysis, and may still require a review of the above tasks. Hence, the idea of drawing up reports which collect damage identification and characterization as well as problems and shortcomings is considered very appropriate, as it requires the formulation of preliminary diagnostics which will have to be ratified or corrected when the evaluation reports and proposals for action are completed.

Therapy

or proposal for specific actions to address the problems identified, repair damaged or unstable areas, adapt infrastructures to new uses, etc. Its formulation is inevitably based on the previous steps. Indeed, the assessment reports must contain a review of any proposals for action, which can even lead to a non-intervention, at least for a while, if justified, or lead to a repair, reinforcement or adaptation project to fully develop a particular selected repair operation. There is no need to stress the importance of the previous steps in the formulation of a proper therapeutic measure.

Prognosis

or prior assessment of the adequacy of the given therapy (or of the evolution of the status of the grading if the decision was not to intervene). It must be borne in mind that, to a large extent, the monitoring of the treatment applied confirms the appropriateness of the therapy and the prior diagnostics. It is also important to note that it is not always possible to guarantee success, so the subsequent follow-up phase is especially interesting in terms of lessons for the future. From this point of view, the registered experience should be part of the history record (anamnesis) of the structure in question. It seems illogical, of course, to apply the same treatment as in the past if the experience has not been satisfactory.

After describing the whole process of activities to be developed with the metaphor of medicine, the monitoring of the appropriateness of treatments involves, over time and starting from the end, the need to observe and judge whether the result is correct or not on the basis of qualitative and quantitative criteria on which the property or the technical team in charge should rely.

Projects