There’s more to Structural and Non-Destructive Testing than Meets the Eye

As Martin Wyeth, Managing Director of Intratest Ltd explains ….

Put simply, Structural Testing is used to check the integrity of street lighting columns, and other metal structures to ascertain the risk of collapse, or failure, that may cause harm to persons, or property.

Ideally the testing methods used will identify the risk of failure, the need for periodical retesting and or removal, and replacement of dangerous structures.

It is important that Structural Testing uses a variety of Non-Destructive Testing Techniques, to identify hidden defects (i.e. corrosion, cracks, and faulty welds), that can adversely affect the integrity of the street lighting columns, or other metal structures being tested.

The process should always start with a Visual Inspection, and end using the relevant Non-Destructive Testing Techniques for the structure being tested.

For instance,

  • Measuring reduction in the thickness of the street lighting column wall, at or below ground level, using low-frequency electromagnetism.
  • Specialist techniques, such as, ultrasonics, magnetic particle inspection to check welded joints

So, to ensure meaningful results, it is important to clearly identify what structure is being tested, and make sure that the tests used do not adversely affect the integrity of the structure being tested, whilst carrying out the tests in the most cost effective manner.

Which is why I do not understand why Mechanical Load Testing is accepted by some as the only method of testing. Especially as it involves measuring deflection of a column under load, which although only minimal, and matched to normal stress incurred under windy conditions, could inadvertently lead to hidden defects mentioned above being made worse.

Surely the better approach is to apply a combination of truly Non-Destructive Testing Techniques, based on a professional approach, that involves operators with the correct, long-term experience, and relevant qualifications, who use the correct equipment for the job in question.

Using processes, and method statements for safe working practices, that have been reviewed, verified, and validated through 3rd party audits. Such as those used by the British Standards Institution for the Quality Management Standard ISO9001: 2015, and the Occupational Health and Safety Management Standard BD OHSAS 18001: 2007 during certification process and beyond. Plus, other industry relevant bodies such as the Highway Electrical Association.

Only then can you be assured you are receiving accurate, and meaningful reports that enable you to manage your street lighting assets, and other metal structures in an ongoing manner.

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