Scaffolding Test and Certification

This case study on Scaffolding Test and Certification in Italy has kindly been provided by our friends at Dewesoft.  For more information, contact us.

INAIL (Instituto Nazionale per L’assicurazione contro gli Infortune sul Lavoro) – The National Institute for Insurance against Accidents of Work, Italy

Cities are entities that are constantly changing, replacing buildings, and modifying infrastructure. All construction works have some level of danger.

Keeping the workers elevated only adds more hazards. All scaffolding platforms in the construction industry must be able to support the weight of the personnel operating on it. Because of this, the safety of the personnel operating on scaffolding and the pedestrians passing or walking under it is incredibly important.

INAIL, the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work, is a public non-profit entity. It safeguards workers against physical injuries and occupational accidents asked the Italian Dewesoft partner LEANE International to provide a complete validation system for scaffolding.

European Standards

The widespread use of scaffolding systems, along with their widespread use in civil engineering projects and temporary structures. Has led to the definition of a series of national as well as international standards. Also these standards cover a vast number of specific issues involving scaffolding.

In Europe, ladders should comply with the new EN 131 Standard, which took effect on 1 January 2018. All mobile scaffolding equipment should be built in compliance with the EN 1004 Standard and all platforms built in compliance with the EN 280 Standard and approved by bodies certified to issue CE certification. There is no CE certification for ladders and mobile scaffold towers, but they must comply with European Standards.

Any commercial scaffolding has to pass a certification according to standard before being introduced to the market. Also, any structural change in a commercial scaffolding that has already passed the certification invalidates the certificate, so the scaffolding needs to be tested again.

The Italian National Institute against injuries at work (INAIL) is the technical-scientific body in the National Health Service. It reports to the Ministry of Health in regard to all aspects of occupational safety, health, and prevention.

INAIL has issued such a standard on Facade scaffolding made with prefabricated components (UNI EN 12810) in two parts:

  • Part 1: Product specifications facade scaffolding made with prefabricated components, and
  • Part 2: Particular structural design methods.

Following the guidelines is important for the strength and stability of the scaffold, which secures safety for both the workers and pedestrians walking under it. Testing should also be done occasionally to understand the stability of the scaffold over time.
To test the scaffolding the same load in every arch has to be applied and the scaffolding is tested up to implosion.

Testing Scaffold Strength

The scaffolding architecture for testing purposes is composed of four arches and stands on five couples of feet (5 on the front and 5 on the rear). The feet stand on a metallic structure and underneath each couple of feet, there is a hydraulic piston.

scaffold testing and scaffold safety approvalStrong steel wires transmit the pressure from the hydraulic pistons to the top of the scaffolding

The piston is connected via two strong steel wires to the top of the scaffolding so when pressure is applied to the piston, the weight is applied from the top.

workers mounting the hydraulic piston beneath the feet of the scaffoldMounting the hydraulic piston beneath the feet of the scaffold

The test is performed up to collapse and each arch must withstand at least 8000 kg without collapsing. The more the better. To do so, the same pressure is applied to each of the four hydraulic pistons so they will push the scaffolding arches in the same way.

The Dewesoft Solution – CAN Bus Interface

To test the system, a hydraulic pump, driven by a complete Dewesoft data acquisition solution, is supplied. This includes:

PT8CN is configured and recorded through a CAN bus network. The 8x Analog Out channels are used to control the hydraulic proportional valves.

The Dewesoft X data acquisition software offers unlimited signal processing capabilities. The most common processing techniques are just a click away. Built-in math library functionalities are offered out of the box.

In this case, Dewesoft X PID controller math was used for a control loop mechanism, which continuously calculates error values and automatically applies accurate and responsive correction.

The Dewesoft Control screen, with the Control ChannelThe Dewesoft Control screen, with the Control Channel – the load can be controlled manually by using the slider on the left side of the screen

How the Scaffolding Test and Certification System Works

The system works like this: Firstly, on top of each hydraulic jack, a load cell is applied. Because this is used as a feedback.  Which will drive the proportional valve that will partialize the hydraulic system on that specific jack. To be sure that the same load is applied on each jack, Dewesoft X PID controller math comes into account. The PID controller reads the input coming from the jack load cell. It reads the setpoint and then adjusts the analog output to drive the proportional hydraulic valve.

This way automatic load steps can be performed or using the slider on the left. On the Dewesoft X Control screen, with the “Control Channel”, the load can be manually controlled. The test will end when the scaffolding collapses and if it withstands at least 8000 kg on each foot, it passes specification.

Dewesoft X screenshot of the load data file shows the scaffolding has collapsedDewesoft X screenshot of the load data file – the scaffolding has collapsed in the red circle

Fast Automated Testing

Firstly, to measure horizontal and vertical deformations of all scaffolding beams.  LEANE International supplied a chain of more than 50 cable-extension position transducers having CAN output. Secondly, these transducers were daisy-chained.  With a cable solution and connected directly to Dewesoft from a standard CAN port integrated into the SIRIUS DAQ system.

Before the use of Dewesoft DAQ technology, the force was not even controlled. So the operator was manually increasing the pressure in the manifold to all the pistons. Therefore, by using the combination of measurement unit and control (through software PID controller functionality) forces below all scaffolding feet are accurately measured and controlled singularly to copy the requested force steps.

Without your solution, we had to perform these tests manually, we used to operate hydraulic valves manually to generate the right force to all pistons. It was very complicated and required us to perform the tests very slowly. Now with this setup, we have everything under control and the test is completely automated – and much faster! Everything is now done automatically and force is adjusted smoothly…

Calogero Vitale, the test responsible at INAIL

The usage of PT8CN sensors in a single CAN network for measuring the scaffolding deformation allowed a very simple and cheap architecture. It also offered the possibility to increase the number of measurement points without the stress of lack of analog channels. Calogero concludes:

… and we have a much better deformation measurement thanks to the flexibility of using any number of displacement sensors in the structure.

Therefore, providing a solid solution for scaffolding test and certification.

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