Maintenance, Preservation and Operation

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

Anamnesis:
  • 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
  • Lifespan 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 Administrations and concession companies, consultants, technology providers and other professionals that must work hand in hand during the infrastructure operation phase in an inevitably multidisciplinary environment. It is important to note that 60% of the projected investment in the construction sector in Spain for 2010 corresponds to operation (repair, strengthening, rehabilitation, change of use, heritage preservation, etc.) and 40% corresponds to new works. The trend of recent years has thus been reversed, and the tendency is now to converge with what is already happening in countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy or France.

The ultimate goal is therefore 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 INES team has been created.

On the one hand, INES staff is specialised in infrastructure projects and infrastructure management systems developing, as well as in operation engineering. On the other hand, our company has an expertise in the development and integration of geographic information systems and relies on specialised personnel and software and hardware tools, necessary to tackle this type of work in the most effective manner.

Our latest projects have involved working on maintenance and management projects with Public Administrations (ADIF, the Spanish Ministry of Public Works and city councils), 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:

Anamnesis

Data gathering and history (medical records) of each structure and the incidents involving its particular elements. Ultimately, it consists in analyzing the project documents and the different interventions to which the structures have been subjected.

Analysis

Study of the infrastructure behaviour under direct or indirect operations. This analysis must be based on its anamnesis in order to represent the historical reality of the structure as accurately as possible. For practical purposes, the study must also conform to the actual documentation available, that is to say, there must be a proportionate balance between data and means of analysis, which must be in line with the intended purpose.

Diagnostics

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 or not one decides to intervene. Unfortunately, formulating a diagnosis is not always straightforward and it is subject to the concurrence of several factors whose casuistry may be extremely diverse. Understandably, it is highly important that this task is performed by a truly specialized and multidisciplinary team. Diagnoses are based on history and analysis, and may still require a review of the above explained tasks. Hence, the idea of drawing up reports which collect damage identification and characterization as well as problems and shortcomings is very appropriate, as it requires the formulation of preliminary diagnoses which will have to be ratified or corrected when the assessment reports and proposals for action are completed.

Therapy

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 certain period of time (if so justified) or to a repair, reinforcement or adaptation project to fully develop a particular selected repair operation. It is not necessary to stress the importance of the previous steps in the formulation of a proper therapeutic measure.

Prognosis

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 adequacy of the therapy and the prior diagnosis. It is also important to note that it is not always possible to guarantee success. Thus, the subsequent follow-up phase is especially interesting in terms of possible lessons for the future. From this point of view, the registered experience should be part of the history record (anamnesis) of the structure at issue. It seems undoubtedly illogical to apply a former treatment if the experience has not been satisfactory.

After describing the whole process of the operations 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