Case Studies - Building Inspection & Maintenance

Hexagon Tower
HRS Services was commissioned to identify and rectify water penetration problem at chemical manufacturer Avecia's head office.

There facilities managers realised that conventional access methods such as scaffolding, to carry out inspection and repair work on the 55m high structure, would be costly, disruptive, unsightly, and a potential health and safety risk. Rope access was therefore considered to be the only solution.

"Experience, professionalism, and appreciation of safety, was all important," says there project manager. "With 600 people using the building each day, I was impressed with the lengths HRS was prepared to go to ensure the safety of everyone."

Building elements checked with no inconvenience to occupiers Inspection & Investigation Works, 65 Tower blocks London Borough Council

HRS Services Ltd has carried out an investigation of 65 multi-storey blocks for a London Borough during the last three years. All received a safety check, removal of loose spalling concrete and documented visual inspection. Sample blocks were structurally surveyed and detailed tests and investigations were carried out to assess the following; number, type, density and effectiveness of wall ties; cover, carbonation, chloride and cement content of concrete elements; fixity of panels; condition of DPCs; make up of roof coverings of ties. Full condition reports with remedial recommendations, including budget costing were prepared with the objective of achieving a life span of 40 years. The in-depth investigation results were taken as representative of all blocks, verified by a visual check of each building for any serious defects. In this way a strategic overview was developed that prioritised all 65 blocks and their repairs. Long term decisions for maintenance/repair strategies were linked to housing department needs and criteria so that a coherent way forward for the portfolio was established.

The first full repair contracts were completed in late 2000, with final costs within 1% of budget - a real success!

Similar large scale contracts have been carried out for other Councils and Housing Authorities across the country and many of these represent repeat contracts over a number of years. To date almost 1000 housing blocks have been inspected with concrete and brick work investigations carried out on many.

Accurate survey data has never been more valuable to local authorities, now required to demonstrate that housing stock is managed to best value principles. Well-informed decisions target capital projects at properties with the highest residual life and correctly prioritise planned maintenance. The cost of obtaining this information for typical blocks is low, with safety checks costing typically less than £2k and full investigations around £2-6 k (including final reports) per block, depending on the amount of testing and investigation work.

Armed with repair schedules, accurate budget figures and verification that similar properties are in like condition, whole life costs can be built up that support a coherent housing strategy. Strong plans also give weight to government fund applications. Key to such reliable planning is confidence in the base data. HRS Services Ltd are highly skilled in providing reports that are detailed, correct and easier to understand.

Rope Access Inspect and repair the tallest free-standing structure in the UK

Rope Access Inspect & repair the tallest free-standing structure in UK

HRS Services, have completed a contract to inspect and repair local areas of concrete to the NTL Emley Moor Transmission Tower, which is the tallest free-standing structure in the UK.

Using HSE 'Good Practices' techniques as set out in IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trading Association) guidelines, technicians from the sheffield based company used rope access to position themselves around and under the tower's working platforms, allowing them to first inspect and then carry out any necessary concrete and coating repairs.

All the HRS equipment is portable and extremely lightweight, allowing rapid set up and removal times. This speed and flexibility, combined with the safest method of working at height, makes rope access the preferred choice for difficult sites, such as Emley Moor.

Rope Access safety work to buildings for the Health & Safety ExecutiveThe Health and Safety Laboratory in Sheffield suffers, like many buildings of its era, from deteriorating concrete. The hazard has been minimised by HRS Services knocking off loose material, and fixing debris netting to catch any subsequent spalling material.

HRS Services has worked to the same high standards employed on all sites, carrying out inspection and maintenance work to ensure property owners can be confident their sites are safe for employees and visitors alike.

Abseiling skills used by HRS Services to clean Royal Albert Hall OrganLeading roped access specialist, HRS Services has just completed a contract to clean and inspect the 9,999 pipes on the grand organ at the Royal Albert Hall.

Also known as the "Voice of Jupiter", the organ was completed in 1871 and was originally built to be one of the finest, largest and tonally most comprehensive instruments in the world. Following its recent refurbishment completed in 2004, it can now re-claim its position as the largest in the UK.

All the 9,999 pipes have to be periodically vacuumed to ensure that dust does not accumulate and their surfaces wiped clean to remove any marks and ingrained dirt which could otherwise dull their finish.  Conventional access methods for this work, such as scaffolding were both costly and intrusive, so HRS Services was commissioned to use its rope access skills to complete the task.

Using HSE 'Good Practices' techniques as set out in IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trading Association) guidelines, technicians from the Sheffield based company were able to position themselves around the pipes, allowing them to carry out the work. A series of close up photographs were also taken - these allowed the Maintenance Team at the Royal Albert Hall to inspect parts of the pipes, normally hidden from their view.

By starting immediately after the audiences had left and working through the night, there was no interruption to the day-to-day activity in the hall. The three man team  completed the contract in three days.

All the HRS equipment is portable and extremely lightweight, allowing rapid set up and removal times. This speed and flexibility, combined with the safest method of working at height, makes rope access the preferred choice for difficult sites.

Close inspection without scaffoldingThe potential delamination failure of panels on a jet engine test facility caused a real head ache for Rolls-Royce and a specialist NDT company. Scaffold or towers could not be used as the risk of damaging the structure itself could not be taken and therefore rope access was used.

HRS had to supply experienced rope access supervisors who had the relevant ASNT qualifications. The contract went well and follow up surveys are due to be carried out every 6 months as there is an on-going risk of panel delamination, which can only be off set by regular checking taking place.

Rope Access Tower Block InspectionsBuilding Inspection - Tower Block Inspections

Over 3000 tower blocks have been inspected across all UK major conurbations over the last 25 years. Currently long term working relationships have been forged with 3 housing authorities where all inspection and investigation work is carried out by HRS.

Skills and experience of HRS staff are at a high level from this level of completing projects.

HRS have developed an integrated site data collection and computer based reporting package for producing fault reports called SAFE - Structural Assessment and Fault Evaluation.

Investigation To Glazed Units and FixingsPrada Museum had a problem when glazed units started to crack around fixing points. HRS were called in to carry out a full inspection and test the torque to which the fixing bolts had been tightened. Over a period of 3 days a 2 man team accessed the glazed elements safely, which allowed the Museum to stay open.

Coating condition checks at height

Engineers working for Blackpool FC wanted to gain an understanding of the paint and galvanised coating to the flood light towers. HRS were asked to carry out a visual condition survey supplemented with thickness coating measurements to schedule and specify repairs to the towers.

Photo evidence of wall tie condition

Investigation Of Brick Slips & Brick Panels On 64 Tower Blocks

A brick work panel collapse led to a full safety check and investigation to brick work panels on 64 tower blocks. Brick slips were hammer tested, panels tested for verticality, mortar tested for composition, bricks tested for permeability, number of ties and their effectiveness investigated with accelerated corrosion tests carried out in salt spray cabinets, support nibs and DPCs exposed.

Abseil teams cover large buildings in less than a dayThe works enabled engineers to assess the extent that panels and slips were secure and the information to design remedial measures.





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