Recreational and Marine Structures Engineering Assessment & Upgrades

Client - Whangarei District Council

Inspecting coastal structures

The safety of people using its assets is top priority for Whangarei District Council, so every three years all public structures are professionally assessed by qualified engineers. For this project, a total of 204 coastal and parkland assets – including bridges, seawalls, wharves, pontoons, gangways and platforms – around the Whangarei region had to be inspected.

GRIT are the local experts

WDC selected GRIT to take on this significant project because our team are recognised experts in condition and durability assessment. But just as importantly, we are locally based. So our team came prepared with an awareness of many of the access challenges these inspections would present, requiring viewing in some cases by boat, drone or on foot in wilderness areas.

Even so, just finding some of the assets was challenging, with incomplete trails presenting extra challenges for our team. However, GRIT’s engineers were quick to connect with locals to help locate the assets. Talking with locals proved especially helpful in terms of the project outcomes, with members of the public often providing additional insight into potential hazards, as well as valuable ideas for improvements.

Technology proves critical

At the project outset, we quickly established that technology would be critical to delivering an effective and efficient service. A specialised app was employed by our team to develop an inspection template that could live-capture the required information and photographs into a report. This would ensure all the required information was captured on a single visit by our engineers, and provide consistent report formats for our client.

We also utilised specialised photography equipment to inspect structures where access would otherwise make it difficult or risky. A 360 degree camera was used in many cases where access was tricky, such as the underside of decks and piling foundations. A drone was used in cases where heights presented a risk, and also in areas where boat access was limited. Our skilled drone operators were able to fly underneath several marine structures to assess them from below.

In particularly low light areas where cameras were of limited use, we employed an inspection-specialised mirror combined with torchlight to see areas that would otherwise be impossible to inspect.

A successful and timely outcome

The clever use of technology, combined with our team’s can-do attitude, meant we were able to inspect all 204 parks and marine assets around the Whangarei district within two months. Our client received detailed reports on any structural defects and potential hazards found, indications of remaining lifespan, as well as clear recommendations and priorities for maintenance in the coming years.

Shaun Dixon, Strategic Asset Coordinator for Whangarei District Council’s Parks & Recreation Department, said: “We were very impressed with the ‘Marine and Parks Structures Inspection Reports’. It was well thought out, logical, easy to follow and the right level of detail”. He also went on to say: “We have found GRIT to be professional, timely and very collaborative.”

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