Case Studies

SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute)

In 2010, after the SAHMRI development approval, several fabricators participated to the tender for the fabrication of the building façade, showing however some concerns about the skills requested to realize it.

Sourcing of steel, workmanship, welding procedures, their correct application on the workshop, interpretation of Australian Standards, material certificates, welding supervision and inspection were the issues identified as critical for the successful completion of the project.

Due to the complexity of the structure, in-situ remedial work was not an acceptable risk, as it would have caused an unsustainable cost overrun.

Within the WTIA there was the combined skillset to ensure that all the concerns could be addressed prior and during the fabrication, minimizing the risk of delays, errors, subsequent failures and expensive remedial works. WTIA was the ideal partner to provide technical advisory for the façade modules fabrication and supervision of the Welding operations.

Consecutive contracts with the main contractor and subcontractors were agreed, for a total of 160+ man-days in Australia and Oversea. Scope of work would include:

  • Fabricator Audit, addressing area of concerns and improvement;
  • Review of joint design and adherence with Australian Standard criteria;
  • Review of QA/QC Plans;
  • Personnel and procedures qualification;
  • Welding Supervision and Inspection activities; and
  • Fabrication surveillance

Thanks to this approach, non-conformities were addressed on time and rectified in the workshop, at the fabricators expense, prior to delivery. This avoided delays, cost over-runs, unsafe structure, and material rejection.

As a result of this approach, the Adelaide iconic façade was delivered on time, within budget, and compliant with the specifications and standards.

Main Civil structure found not compliant after commissioning

Days after erection, concerns about the integrity of a bridge were raised and whether it had been fabricated to the appropriate standard. With raising concerns for the public safety, WTIA was requested to assess the welds structure integrity and comment about fitness for purpose.

It was determined that an incorrect manufacturing standard had been adopted, but as this finding occurred after the structure had been fabricated and erected. It was determined that the bridge was not fit for purpose and as re-building was not a viable option for the time involved and cost, a complex in-situ inspection and remedial work program was developed and completed with regular WTIA oversight.

Due to difficult access, the inspection and remedial work spanned a period of over 3 months, leading to additional costs in excess of $200,000 dollars. In addition, penalties for late delivery were determined to be an order of magnitude greater (i.e. millions of dollars).

The remedial works enabled the structure to be deemed suitable for service. However, an ongoing inspection campaign (with an ongoing cost for the Asset Owner) is required.

With the involvement of the right personnel at an earlier stage of the project, a very small fraction of the time, money and efforts put into the remedial work would have avoided the cost and time escalation of this project.

Independent Third Party Opinion

A local fabricator has recently awarded a tender for the realization of a modular steel structure for a Governmental project in Australia.

Technical oversights and mis-communication resulted in problems with welds during construction. WTIA was requested to determine the root causes of the defects and provide independent third party opinion for repair.

The case review found errors from the design phase, during material selection, fabrication stage and during the commissioning of the project. Although this would have been easily identified at a very early stage, if someone with a proper background in welded joints design and material behaviour had been involved; as responsibilities were unclear, the issues were not detected until defects appeared.

Although the case is yet to be settled, it has been estimated already that the additional cost for lawsuit, remedial work and late delivery penalties would be close to AU$ 1,000,000, with shared responsibilities due to the design approval process. The remedial work will cause a delay in the final project delivery, whose value probably already exceeds the estimated damage.

A small fraction of the penalty amount, if invested at the proper time, would have avoided the cost escalation of this case.