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How cost-driven thinking is leading to early failures of existing equipment

Excerpts from the the fourth edition of CPI Industry’s DC Dialogue…

| | Jul 29, 2020 | 1:29 pm
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Bill Hutton

Cost-centric thinking has led to poorly maintained cooling towers and buildings across the UAE, said Bill Hutton, Manager – Corrosion Solutions, Structural Technologies. “A lot of the older structures are in Dubai, and a lot are suffering from durability-related problems,” he said. “There are also problems related to corrosion or due to the concrete not being protected, because chemicals can add to additional degradation. What we see is older projects are not being maintained in the way they should be, due to budget constraints.”

Hutton said that for its part, Structural Technologies aims to educate developers and owners on the importance of getting the value of repairs, but that ensuring the structure gets the proper maintenance work that can match the level of investment is a challenge. “The UAE market is very much price-driven,” he said. “If a tender is put out that says, ‘Come repair my cooling tower’, the
owner gets five bids, goes to the last page and awards the contract based on price. When owners do not [address] commercial or technical, they have premature failure in repairs. We worked on a project two years ago, where the owners spent AED 2 million repairing the structure.”

Hutton also spoke on the importance of strengthening GRP pipes, many of which are failing from cracks. “We have a whole team dedicated to repair and strengthening of GRP pipes, even concrete pipes,” he said.

Hutton said the repair process can be broken down to three parts, the first of which is investigation. “Generally, you don’t have only one problem for the structure – it’s usually a mixture of issues,” he said. “The first stage normally involves engaging an experienced consultant to come in, and he would assess what would be the root cause of the problem and determine the extent of the problem. The next stage, which is the engineering, involves a lots of ways to skin a cat. It is important to look at different options, enable owners to get best value. Then, you have implementation; when it comes to basins, it typically means replacing linings. A lot of the cooling towers have GRP linings. GRP is fairly old; better technologies are available.”

Hutton said the repair process can be broken down to three parts, the first of which is investigation. “Generally, you don’t have only one problem for the structure – it’s usually a mixture of issues,” he said. “The first stage normally involves engaging an experienced consultant to come in, and he would assess what would be the root cause of the problem and determine the extent of the problem. The next stage, which is the engineering, involves a lots of ways to skin a cat. It is important to look at different options, enable owners to get best value. Then, you have implementation; when it comes to basins, it typically means replacing linings. A lot of the cooling towers have GRP linings. GRP is fairly old; better technologies are available.”


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