The SafeLife-X (Safe life extension) project looks at how to work with aging infrastructure (such as roads and railways) and industry (such as the chemical industry and energy generation). Owners and government authorities must decide whether to extend the operating life of structures of this kind or to replace them. Existing structures can sometimes operate safely for longer than people assume.
In SafeLife-X, eleven European partners, including Deltares, are reviewing the current scientific and technological situation in this field. The aim is to establish a Strategic Research Agenda and a Road Map for implementing knowledge in practice, allowing management agencies to improve their maintenance and replacement strategies (in other words, lifecycle management).
SafeLife-X began with an overview of the difficulties facing management agencies. On the basis of the current state of the art, efforts are being made to identify the technologies required to resolve those difficulties, taking long-term challenges into account such as climate robustness and changes in the way structures are used. Deltares is drafting implementation proposals based on its expertise in the areas of risk-driven thinking and technical know-how. As support for those proposals, we also supply business cases showing how solutions can be economically viable, and we also describe other benefits such as added environmental value. One of those business cases is a study of the service life of the locks in the Rhine River near Driel, Amerongen and Hagestein.
SRA and Road Map
Large numbers of workshops are being organised to share knowledge during the two years of the project. The partners also determine in consultation which models and tools are the most promising in terms of maintenance policy and cost-benefit analyses. During the course of 2015, this will result in a Road Map describing the implementation of existing state-of-the-art technologies and tools. In addition, the review can serve as a basis to identify the areas where essential knowledge is still lacking. The results will be included in a Strategic Research Agenda that matches the research agenda of the European Union (EU Grand Challenges and Horizon 2020).
The infrastructure and industry sectors have different approaches to maintenance management and so SafeLife-X allows them to learn from each other. For example, industry has a more advanced approach to risk-based inspections, and models that infrastructure management agencies could adopt. Opening up the best practices from the two sectors results in the exchange of immediately applicable knowledge. The main contribution from Deltares is our knowledge relating to infrastructure processes.