When Irish-based building materials company CRH bought a portfolio of cement manufacturing plants in 2015, it inherited almost 1,500 reinforced concrete silos at facilities all across the globe.

With an average age of 45, many of these structures were approaching the end of their design life and were in need of repair; some were failing, and others could not be used to their full capacity as their true condition was unknown. The geographical spread of these assets posed a particular challenge to the new owners, who needed to gain a full understanding of their status and plan a maintenance and repair programme.

  • Name of the owner
  • Name of the client
    CRH Group Technical Services
  • Delivery date of the project
    October 2019
  • Partners of the project
    Mapping software provider: Sixense

Asset management partnership agreement

CRH Group Technical Services engaged Freyssinet on a long-term partnership agreement to supply support services in assessing the true condition of all the silos, establishing a proper inspection regime, and planning a cost-effective maintenance programme. The first task was to develop a custom structural integrity management system which is built around the ScanPrint tool that is already available on the market from Freyssinet sister company Sixense.

  • 45
    Average age of silos
  • 1,270
    Number of silos
  • 39%
    Proportion of silos whose conditions is unknown
Custom structural integrity management system - Asset management - Data Input

Custom structural integrity management system

The silo-management software was designed to enable local operators to carry out a baseline inspection, gathering sufficient information to generate a risk rating for each structure, and if necessary, a priority for further inspection, repair or strengthening. A key task in development of the system was to create a database of all the different types of silo that are present in CRH plants, along with examples of typical structural problems encountered in each.

Staff carrying out the baseline inspections do not need specialist knowledge; the system prompts them to record the size and position of any cracks, spalling, corrosion and so on, and upload photos. Once complete, it draws on the database to analyse the structure and give an overview of its condition. If it is currently being used at a restricted capacity, the analysis tool assesses what repairs are needed to increase this.

Flagged up

After the initial inspection, the system might flag the need for a more detailed examination by a structural engineer, or recommend repair or strengthening work within a particular timescale. If the latter is needed, Freyssinet engineers specify the works and the client can contract either with Freyssinet or another local partner to implement them. Red flags in the system are visible to managers at the company’s headquarters, enabling them to identify where maintenance budgets can most effectively be directed to head-off any potential shut-down. The first trial of the inspection and analysis software took place at a CRH plant in Dunbar, in Scotland in 2019 followed by a number of other sites in France and North America. The intention is to roll it out to 39 plants around Europe, with training for maintenance engineers delivered at the same time.

CRH Asset management
CRH Asset management system expansion

Asset management system expansion

Implementation of the silo management system was well received by CRH and led to a subsequent commission for a system to manage all the other structures in their plants. The database will be expanded to cover all the additional types of structure – about ten in total, both steel and concrete – as well as the typical problems common to each. The system, which can be adapted to suit any cement plant, is now available on the market.

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