Evaluation of Buildings and Structures for Heavy Industrial Plants

By Roberto Jimenez

1. Condition Assessment of Structural Components of an Industrial Process Plant

The structural condition assessment of buildings and structures of an industrial process plant is essential to the prevention of major problems involving the safety of the workforce, significant maintenance costs, environmental pollution, and production losses. A structural failure increases the risk of injury to plant personnel, and depending on the kind of structure and its function, it can lead to complete shutdown of the plant’s operations. An evaluation prevents unexpected failures, provides a cost-effective solution to maintenance, reduces the risk of injury and life loss to plant personnel, puts the future operating time of the plant in condition of assured reliability, and it could increase the life of the plant’s equipment.

2. Services

The expanse of our services covers the following:

    • Site visit to the Plant to visually inspect the condition of buildings, silos, and main structures, which could present detected or undetected structural problems, such as cracks, delaminations, settlements, elements at risk to fall, vibrations, high corrosion, and high deformations.

    • Review the technical information of buildings and structures in more detail: Construction drawings, specifications, calculations, and local codes.

    • Perform material testing to certify the quality of the construction materials.

    • Diagnose the problems and, in some cases, provide preliminary recommendations to reduce the risk of failure while a more deep analysis is underway.

    • Prepare a techno-economical report indicating the cause(s) of the problem, alternatives, and recommendations for the most appropriate solutions.

Figure 1. Vehicular Impact Damage

    • Provide basic engineering based on our recommendations: drawings, specifications and calculations.
    • Supervise implementation of our recommended solutions to guarantee the problem has been solved.

Figure 2. Differential Settlement Solutions

3. Facilities and Components

    • Steel and Concrete Industrial Building and Structures.
    • Concrete and Steel Silos.
    • Material Storage: Domes, Bunkers, Longitudinal Storage, Bins, etc.
    • Foundations for vibrating equipment: Mills, Fans, and Crushers, etc.
    • Galleries, Trusses, and Bents for Belt Conveyor support.
    • Tunnels and Retaining Walls.
    • Maritime Facilities: Jetties, Docks, Piers and Dolphins.

Figure 3. Integrity Verification; Spalling Repair

4. Common Problems

    • Cracks and delamination in concrete silos.
    • Buckling deformation on steel silo walls.
    • Dust and material accumulation in roofs.
    • Durability problems: high degree of corrosion of steel structures or concrete reinforcement, concrete delamination, old structures deterioration.

Figure 4. Buckling Failure

    • Settlement of buildings and structures.
    • Stability problems in buildings and structures.
    • Overstressed Beams or Columns, which show high deformations.
    • High Vibrations in foundations for vibrating equipment.
    • Loads or conditions not considered in the original design.
    • Modifications made to structures without an analysis.

Figure 5. Roof Buildup Failure

The various operating conditions, age of the plant, errors in the original design of an industrial plant lead to structural changes, which may also lead to costly and in some cases irreparable conditions. 

Figure 6. Dust Buildup in a Belt Conveyor

PEC Consulting provides comprehensive structural evaluation of industrial processing facilities, both preventative and remedial. This service is offered by our highly- experienced, specialized consultants who will visit the plant, find the problems at incipient stages, prepare a comprehensive report which cause intervention prior to failure, and make sure that your problem is solved.

About the Author(s)

The main contributor to this article was Roberto Jimenez from PEC Consulting Group.


PEC Consulting Group LLC | PENTA Engineering Corporation | St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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