beTcs Asia-Pacific recently returned to Australia after a 4 month stint in China attending the PMU testing for several high-rise projects currently under construction in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
The year long effects of the pandemic have been felt by all, not least for those involved in facade acceptance and delivery using overseas partners. It has forced many to adapt their approach for nearly all aspects.
Understandably, many stakeholders were prevented or unable to travel - owing to company policy or government restrictions - to attend their project's PMU testing.
beTcs Asia-Pacific gave commitments to its clients early on in 2020 it would travel to China to attend their respective PMU tests. beTcs' presence and reporting not only enabled these clients to fulfil contractual and facade specification obligations, but also maintain the same degree of transparency, accuracy, and diligence witnessed by the main contractor and facade consultant in normal times, to confidently establish compliance.
beTcs negotiated the requirements for travel, visas, COVID-19 testing, and quarantine mandated by the Australian and Chinese governments, in a timely manner allowing all PMU tests and reporting to proceed unhindered.
The pandemic has seen many creative and novel solutions devised to deal with the restrictive environment we must now operate within. While most are indeed ingenious, there are a few which are patently expedient, whose efficacy should immediately be called into question. Especially so when the outcomes for the novel method are heavily dependent on the co-operation of a remote party with a vested interest, and is overly reliant on technology which is all too often, self-deceivingly, accepted as a panacea for proper due diligence.
The fields of inspection and performance testing have seen one such method introduced, in the form of test witnessing by video link. beTcs had the opportunity to view - as an unrelated observer - a number of these 'test-by-video' events for projects located in countries other than Australia.
Most notably, even though the visited test laboratories operate under recognised and accredited quality systems, the involvement or connection with the supplier party raised questions about influence. No matter the variety of video cameras, the client is limited to a fixed perspective for observation, beholden to the party who established the camera setup.
Moreover, the capacity of the witnessing party to inspect and review the critical elements of the presented PMU test sample, the correct instrumenting of it, and the accurate operation of the lab plant and equipment, was curtailed by their physical absence.
In several PMU tests, at multiple testing laboratories, that were inspected, witnessed, and reported on by beTcs Asia-Pacific, there were identified minor issues with either lab plant and equipment, test instrument setup, or test outcomes. In reference to the latter, two test cases revealed water penetration at locations either obscured from sight or partially inaccessible for inspection.
A more concerning issue on a separate PMU occurred in relation to the specified location of displacement transducers for the structural test. Transducer triplet sets - for the purpose of deflection/span ratios - had been inadvertently located incorrectly (an error resulting from the complex facade geometry), spanning over more than single panels. Conceivably, had beTcs not being present to identify the error in its planned pre-test inspections, then had the test proceeded as is with the erroneous structural results not detected until after testing, a full repeat test would be necessary. In a scenario where the entire PMU test was completed and then dismantled, the consequences do not need explaining.
Thorough and independent inspection, witnessing, and validation of facade performance testing cannot be undertaken from afar.
beTcs Asia-Pacific remains committed to serving its clients and their partners, locally and internationally, to assist them in achieving their objectives to the required standards.
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