9-11 May 2023
ICC Sydney

A bridge that lasts forever

Sep 24, 2014 Products

By SPM Assets

I recently came across a video on the Sydney Morning Herald website titled ”˜Sydney Harbour Bridge: rust never sleeps’. Click here to watch the 4 minute video.

This video caught my eye as the Sydney Harbour Bridge needs endless maintenance to maintain it’s value and to make sure it continues to be safe considering the significant volumes of daily traffic. In this case, Peter Mann (the Bridge’s asset manager) is making one of the world’s most iconic structures last forever.

It’s a similar story that I’ve been promoting around ”˜planning to make buildings last forever’. However, with buildings, the first question should challenge whether the building should actually last forever. With the bridge, there’s no question – it will last forever. Once that has been established, there’s little difference in approach between maintaining a large scale iconic structure and a community building, commercial office block or even a house. Break the asset down to its maintainable, renewable and replaceable parts, identify which is more critical and which needs more planned and proactive maintenance and servicing. Then implement an effective works programme that is directly aligned with your ”˜asset management plan’. Peter talks about regular repainting of the steelwork as an essential and ongoing part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge maintenance and the challenges of both long-term thinking and a planned approach.

Last February, I spoke to Facilities Management Magazine on ”˜How to think long-term’. I said that buildings can last forever and as long as there is a need for the asset, it can be maintained to perpetuity. A building (or bridge) really can last a lot longer than originally expected if there is a good plan in place to look after it – a plan that has teeth and is followed, and a plan that has policies and strategies that drive the achievement of asset standards. Peter extends on this thought, “Good Engineers always need a good plan B, C and D.“ That is also what is needed for long-term thinking.

Steve Lyons

SPM Assets

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