Trends & Insights from an Industry Pioneer
About Subsurface Reflections:
The goal of this blog is to share interesting and inspiring articles related to subsurface imaging and geophysics. Written by experts in the field of geophysics, ground penetrating radar, software development and data analysis, this is a source for insights about the practical application of technology in the field of subsurface imaging and a place to shed light on common misconceptions in the industry.
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Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
Dr. Peter Annan
Founder & CEO
Peter is the CEO of Sensors & Software. His scientific research has been recognized worldwide with numerous awards for his pioneering work in ground penetrating radar (GPR) instruments and data analysis methods. He has authored multiple scientific publications, patents, and technical reports and served on various government and professional committees.
Advantages of Integrating GPR in Concrete Inspection
Today, more than ever, owners and managers of real estate are driven to build and renovate their properties to be among the most attractive in order to net the largest possible return on their investment. Price-Waterhouse-Coopers released a report that predicts active buying, developing and rehabbing of commercial space in most North American markets.
Tremendous growth in tenant expectations for building performance, both in commercial and residential markets, has resulted in building structures becoming more complex. To accommodate the variety of embedded services, the number of conduits built into concrete slabs and structures is increasing, often to the point where structural engineers have concerns about where they are going to place their concrete.
Post-construction additions require routing of conduits or piping through crowded slabs, and must be done without damage to existing embedded services or primary structural components. Contractors face this while still addressing demands for higher productivity, workplace risk/hazard management, liability mitigation and seamless integration into the workflow of the rest of the project.
All this has created a growing demand for services such as concrete scanning, non-destructive testing (NDT), cutting and coring. Professionals and companies need more sophisticated tools and processes to help assess, build-in, or add these embedded elements into the concrete. Providers of concrete scanning, testing, cutting and coring services also need to offer value and efficiency to be competitive and successful in getting contracts.
Amongst the non-destructive technologies for imaging and assessing the interior of concrete structures, ground penetrating radar (GPR) has emerged in recent years as a leading tool. Unlike traditional X-raying,
GPR is safe, requires access to only one side of a slab or wall, usually involves only one technician (without expensive certification associated with nuclear/x-ray sources), can produce results in real time and can be performed during normal business hours with minimal disruption to building operations.
There are numerous advantages and benefits in scanning concrete with GPR:
GPR provides accurate images and, the ability to analyze slices at varying depths, provides the depth and orientation of embedded objects. Dual-technology systems, such as the Conquest 100, that combine GPR and Power Cable Detection systems, go a step further and indicate which conduits hold hazardous current carrying power lines.
Effective In Order To Be Efficient
Even as the need for these services increases, the dollars available to pay for them are hard to find. Having the ability and reputation for doing a thorough job without repeated visits or errors is a real competitive advantage. Speed is good, effectiveness is better. Professional-grade GPR tools are able to provide this advantage. Providers should match their effort to site conditions, performing reconnaissance scans to decide where and if a fuller scan is required.
Service providers must fit seamlessly into the workflow and project management of their customers, especially on large projects. In fact, they can gain competitive advantage by offering ways to cut out time and money from the processes of larger projects. For example, real-time assessment by off-site reviewers of scanned results can reduce the time between scanning and cutting, often avoiding the need for a second site visit.
Assessment and testing without expensive and harmful destructive testing is always preferable. Even where expensive destructive testing or coring is required, targeting it to where it is most effective can save time and money.
GPR sensors are small and can be used in tight spaces and in any orientation on floors, walls and ceilings. Critically, GPR is applied from the exposed surface and is able to find features in slab-on-grade. It can even identify voids in the surrounding materials. Large areas can be mapped efficiently by deploying the GPR sensor on a cart or vehicle-towed platform.
GPR can be thought of as many tools in one, and offers owners the possibility of breaking into new businesses and activities. From marking ahead of cutting or coring to investigating structural components, providing due-diligence records, to assessing the deterioration of rebar, a good GPR system can do it all.
Health and Safety
There are significant regulatory, financial and social reasons for being concerned about workplace safety, and GPR is the most effective technology to address these concerns. Not only is GPR harmless to the infrastructure, it also poses no risk to the operators or the general public. You can safely use GPR in a crowded public setting without any risk to the people around.
Modern GPR systems are inexpensive and easy to use, requiring very little training and no certification costs. Improved data processing has automated much of the process, including automated reports where needed. Owners can also benefit from detailed usage records provided by leading GPR systems, knowing when the system was used, where it was and what is was used for.
Concrete scanning GPR products have been around for a number of years, but their use was limited due to the need for experienced technicians and challenges in data interpretation. Sensors & Software transformed a complex and expensive technology into solutions that are easy-to-use and affordable. Developments in both hardware and software, including sensors to detect the magnetic fields associated with current carrying electric cables, refinement in user interfaces and coupling GPR with other complementary technologies have combined to make the use of GPR an economical, reliable and widely accepted method for locating objects and services embedded in concrete.
Recent iterations of this technology transform data into 3D volume images which can be displayed as volume renderings or as plan maps at specified depths. Presenting these images with corollary data in engineering reports document due diligence. The ability to quickly generate and share these images can be a significant competitive advantage.
Conquest® 100 takes this philosophy to new heights with better functionality, ease-of-use, and integration into a modern workflow. GPR technology has emerged to become a valuable and reliable tool to improve asset protection and risk management as well as a significant profit center for service providers.