The New Boundaries of Structural Concrete

Session D – Concrete Quality Control on Site

Concrete Quality Control Planning According to UNI EN
Ing. Colombo Zampighi 1

ABSTRACT: Concrete quality control on site in Italy is generally poor: lack of reliable execution
specifications and inspection practices is one of the causes.
Concepts introduced by recent standard UNI EN 13670 give the opportunity of change: the fulfilment of
specific requirements may improve significantly the actual situation.
QC management options, namely concerning execution and curing classes are outlined.
A r.c structures effective inspection plan should rely on a detailed coordinated concreting planning : basic
criteria for its drafting are illustrated.
Systematic analysis of records of real quantities of components batched and times printed in delivery
tickets can help to better check on site compliance of actual w/c ratio with specified values and prevent
problems arising during unloading and placement.

1.1 UNI EN 13670
EN 13670 “Execution of concrete structures“ has been issued December 2009 and
supersedes ENV 13670-1 : 2000 ; UNI EN 13670 has been published in 2010.
The contents cover all relevant aspects starting from the execution management and
closing with geometrical tolerances; seven informative Annexes (from A to G) mirror
the main normative clauses.
Annex H gives guidance on National Annex to be published by Member States A
National Annex may include or give reference to national requirements on items such as
the following :
1) Execution management;
2) Project documentation;
3) Quality management;
4) Reinforcement;
5) Concreting;
6) Surface finish;
7) Geometrical tolerances.
It is also recognized in EN 13670 that areas such as detailed requirements for
competence of personnel are within the competence of the Member States.
QC management efficacy is founded on the availability of adequate workmanship and
professional preparation.
EN 13670 has three functions :
a) To transfer the requirements set during design to the constructor i.e. To be a link
between design and execution;
b) To give a set of standardized technical requirements for the execution when
ordering a concrete structure;
c) To serve as a check list for the designer to ensure that he provides the
constructor with all relevant technical informations for the execution of the

Structural Engineer Lead Auditor ICMQ ACI Member

most of technical specifications included in tender documents issued nowadays in Italy are not updated . System of European Standards as basis for design.43 of DPR 207/2010 gives details of the contents of technical specifications. when drawing up its technical specifications . 1. On the other hand a very short paragraph (4. Figure 1. 1.3 2008 NTC Issued january 14th 2008 and mandatory from june 30th 2009 on the wave of l’Aquila earthquake the Italian technical rules for constructions (2008 NTC) compared with the previous 1996 decree contain some more elements to improve concrete structures quality control but still show lack of details concerning execution specifications . not enough detailed and finally do not respect this requirement.structure (with the help of annex A) The importance of EN 13670 among the system of European Standards related to concrete works is shown in the following Figure 1. execution and materials selection for concrete works (only main modules) While other European States like France.2 Public works contracts Italy Code Issued between 2006 and 2010 with latest amendements in 2012 the public works contracts Italy Code follows the European Directive 2004/18/CE.1.7 Execution) prescribes execution specifications giving reference to UNI EN 13670-1 : 2001 which has been generally ignored by most of italian concrete structures professionals. not fully pertinent to the object of the project. Namely chapter 10 (execution specifications) do not mention the project specifications among the documents to be prepared by the designer: only technical specifications concerning materials to be used should be provided. It is a fact that italian concrete structures sites have widely experienced in the last decades a very poor execution quality control.K and Germany (which holds the secretariat of CEN/TC 104 who has prepared EN 13670) are familiar with detailed Standards or Standards like documents dealing with this matter Italy only recently (february 2008) has issued through STC (Servizio Tecnico Centrale del Consiglio Superiore dei Lavori Pubblici ) a Guidance concerning some aspects of the execution of concrete structures. Art. Despite that.68 Dlegs 163/2006). 2 . a contracting entity shall refer to national standards transposing European standards. European technical approvals and international standards (see Art. It provides that . U.

For inspection in execution class 2. b) Embedded items. For execution classes 2 and 3 an inspection plan shall be prepared. Project Managers should state in the brief QC management strategy and design activities should follow accordingly. The three Execution classes are connected to the 3 levels of reliability differentiation given in EN 1990:2002 annex B (namely B5 Inspection levels during execution). Inspection in execution class 1 is an inspection that might be carried out by the operator that performed the work : this implies an inspection to be carried out on all work done – self inspection. formwork and false work. e) Site transport and casting and curing of concrete. The execution class may refer to the complete structure. The italian national annex to EN 1990:2002 recently approved (september 24th 2010) has not introduced any specific requirement. to components of the structure or to certain materials/technologies. EN 13670 leaves a number of items open to be decided in the “execution specification” which should state all the specific requirements relevant to the particular structure. there should be. testing and gauging).A new revision of NTC is on the way. Two main items are here analyzed: options related to execution classes and to curing classes. For structures in the execution class 2 the inspection should concern at least concrete and reinforcement works for important structural members like columns and beams. 2 QC MANAGEMENT OPTIONS ACCORDING TO UNI EN 13670 2. For inspection in execution class 3 there may be required in addition an extended inspection according to national regulations and/or project execution specifications: this extended inspection may be performed by another company that is an independent inspection. Execution class 1 should only be used for structures where consequences in case of failure are small or negligible.2 Execution classes QC management shall verify conformity of products and materials as well as of the execution of the works through supervision and inspection (defined as conformity evaluation by observation and judgement accompained as appropriate by measurement. an inspection report shall be issued and as built drawings arranged. 2. For structures in execution class 3 the internal systematic inspection should include any concrete works of significance for the load bearing capacity and durability of the 3 . This set of documents (covering all drawings. Subjects for inspection of execution are: a) Scaffolding. technical data and requirements necessary for the execution of a particular project) is referred to as the “execution specification“. The execution class to be used shall be stated in the execution specification. Requirements for quality management are specified using one of the three classes for which the required strictness increases from class 1 to class 3. f) Erection of precast elements.1 General In order to achieve its objectives the UNI EN 13670 assumes that the design result in a set of documents and drawings giving all information required for the execution of the work in accordance with the plans. an internal systematic and regular inspection with fixed routines within the company that is performing the work that is an internal systematic inspection. d) Prestressing reinforcement (if present only execution classes 2 and 3 apply). c) Ordinary reinforcement. in addition to the self inspection.

on a quality plan. There are rare examples of implementation of execution inspection plans class 2 like. provided that construction companies. concreting and curing.5).3 and A. Few inspection reports are recorded in the “Journal of works“ : results of inspection should be systematically and fully recorded. They have now the opportunity to use a complete set of updated standards. 4 . In Italy where roughly half of the territory is in seismic zones 1 and 2 execution class 2 could concern mainly low rise residential and commercial building without particular structural criticities in seismic zones 3 and 4. procedures and records. f) Events of significance for the properties of the finished structure. then class 1 should be limited to minor urbanization structures and buildings with negligible risks . Construction joints rarely are designed and concreting in very hot weather conditions is too often allowed without reliable precautions: see clause 8. reinforcement .2. and site managers. Execution record documentation (Clause 4.4. AUTOVIE VENETE. special foundations .2. applications for variations and the responses. inserts and embedded components (clause 5. Some civil engineering works like railways (managed by ITALFER) and highways (managed by AUTOBRENNERO. This approach necessarly implies a radical cultural change in all professionals in Italy: project manager (Responsabile Procedimento) . SPEA) have already a QC management not too far from that provided by execution class 3 in UNI EN 13670 especially for materials: execution inspection plan should be improved according to UNI EN 13670 requirements.5) should get more attention through specific inspection plans. Not less responsibility is assigned to associations and regulation bodies. The above scenario is quite normal in most European countries.2 (4) and (10). installation of reinforcement and concrete cover (clause 6. First of all it shall be stressed the need of updated. General concrete execution specifications have been issued and updated by competent authorities in France and Germany (CCTG and VOB) without speaking of BS and NEN in U. are not used to plan inspections nor to record their results and supervision by site engineers on behalf of the client is often lacking and limited to a survey of the floor structures just before pouring .43 of DPR 207/2010) state that QC management should rely. A mandatory more detailed “Journal of works“ recording results of the inspections concerning main items as per clauses 5 . b) As built drawings.2. and Netherlands. strategic buildings in class IV.g. e) Documentation of the inspections and records of checks at hand over. Collaudatore).K. 8 and 10 should be in such cases advised. to which the italian law assigns almost all responsabilities. 6 . cleaning before casting concrete. protection and curing (clause 8. Clause 4. Effective inspection planning procedures should be practiced: nowadays in Italy most of construction companies are certified ISO 9001 but inspection plans are too often documents without the necessary effectiveness. materials test reports and/or suppliers declaration of performance. c) Non conformities and corrective actions taken. when provided in the execution specifications.4) . The italian context shows significant deficiences and UNI EN 13670 gives the opportunity of a strong improvement.2 (see also Art. d) Record of accepted changes to the project specification. Items like formwork detailing (clause 5. g) Weather conditions during casting and curing. detailed and project related execution specifications : Table A1 of Annex A should be currently used by structural designers. prestressing etc. prestressed structures.3) should include: a) Sources of materials.6).structure. designers and site engineers (Direttore Lavori . This includes inspection of formwork. technologies and projects (e. Many other important and critical structures. buildings in seismic zones 1 and 2) should have assigned and fully implemented execution class 3.

Tables F1 . This requirement obliges the designer to be fully aware of concrete characteristics and behaviour provided that the choice of curing classes is dependant on exposure classes. class of curing and materials/devices to be employed. choice of concrete composition and concrete cover to the reinforcement. Most of cracks due to excessive shrinkage are due to lack of curing. in damp.2. Technical specifications rarely are detailed to this regard and almost never respected. easy spot checking by rebound hammer can confirm the achievement of the provided concrete strength: results shall be recorded. The increase of the use of mixes with low bleeding tendency. Methods for protecting and curing concrete are well known and resumed in Annex F. e. Methods of curing should be well known by designers and site engineers: no concreting plan should be approved without full knowledge and availability by all project participants of methods of curing. measures to cool concrete components are rare. inspection planning and recording: responsabilities involved in implementation of correct curing methods and periods as well as associated inspection procedures should be defined.8. Once curing class has been specified. medium and slow) of concrete strength development The curing class shall be stated in the execution specification. In most sites in Italy in summer time concrete temperature is often exceeding 30° C with peaks near 40° C . like high strength and self compacting concrete advises special considerations in order to prevent plastic shrinkage cracking on free surfaces. F3 of Annex F give the duration of curing in number of days deemed to satisfy the curing classes 2 . the site engineer shall verify the correct starting of related activities. Rate of evaporation depends on concrete and air temperature. cement and water.5 of UNI EN 13670 . wind as well as in cold and dry air. Curing shall start without delay on completion of compaction and finishing operations.g. Concrete temperature can be controlled by using low heat cements and keeping cold the main components: aggregates. F2 . Aggregates are almost never protected and water sprayed. this applies also for concreting under weather conditions that cause strong evaporation like hot weather. 5 . Natural curing is sufficient only when conditions throughout the required curing period are such that evaporation rates from the concrete surface are low. relative umidity and wind velocity (wich can be minimized only with windbreaks). Time of pouring concrete should be choosed in order to minimize air temperature peaks and allow curing activities to be started and carried out properly: in hot weather afternoon pours should be avoided. The other three curing classes are related to the percentage of the specified characteristic 28 days compressive strength :  Curing class 2 35%  Curing class 3 50%  Curing class 4 70% The development of concrete properties in the surface zone may be estimated by different methods more or less accurate.3 Curing classes Curing and protection of concrete in its early life is maybe the most neglected requirement in italian construction sites despite often harmful weather conditions. rainy or foggy weather. Curing shall be an important part of execution specification. The duration of applied curing shall be function of the development of the concrete properties in the surface zone. UNI EN 13670 provides four curing classes Curing class 1 specifies a curing period of 12 hours provided that the set does not exceed 5 hours and surface concrete temperature is above 5° C. they shall achieve low evaporation rates from the concrete surface or keep the surface permanently wet. without neglecting climatic conditions and size of elements. 3 and 4 in relation to surface concrete temperature (from 5° C to above 25° C) and rates (rapid.

 Concrete working life lasting more than two and half hours. UNI EN 13670 underlines that the concrete structures designer. concrete producer. 3. It is understood that a concreting plan consists of written documents. air entrained XF3-F4 with type IV cement).  Procedures for hot and cold weather concreting. Each subject is dealt as appropriate.  Forms and vapor retarder/barrier. concrete finisher. It is surprising how often this is not done with detrimental consequences. f) Quality control/assurance.  Strike off and finishing techniques. sealing and protection of concrete. items affecting the construction process are analyzed in a deep detail in order to define responsabilities too:  Construction/Placement drawings and specifications review. The designer may give a guideline on how carry on this activitiy that will concern necessarly all partecipants: owner. National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) jointly with the American Society of Concrete Contractors ( ASCC ) have published an helpful Preconstruction Conference checklist : it is intended for major projects but because of its detail .g. It may seem trite to say that the site should be fully ready before concrete is ordered. c) Concrete Materials and required mix design d) Ordering and scheduling concrete.  Access .2 How to prepare a concreting plan The U.  Power . testing laboratory and any other involved in the project.  Jointing. Aspects taken in consideration are: a) Project information.  Special finishing.A. Without a reliable coordinated concreting plan which is an important part of the construction plan it is very difficult if not impossible to conceive and implement an effective concrete quality control on site.  Curing. site engineer. Some common examples of specific pours may be:  Unusual volume or timing.1 General A concreting plan shall be prepared where required by the execution specification: Clause 8. g) Safety. when writing the execution specifications. concrete delivery and pumping subcontractor.2 (1).  Mix not easy to be managed (e. has to decide if the project needs a general concreting plan or to identify within the project which specific pours should require a concreting plan. safety engineer. b) Construction process.  Sequence of construction and meteo monitoring (temperature and humidity).lighting and water facilities. 6 . it can serve any concrete structures site . general contractor .  Form removal. who should have the necessary experience and knowledge. discharge facilities and vehicle addressing.S. admixture supplier.3 CONCRETING PLANNING 3. Every day experience learns that without a suitable concreting planning problems are inevitably arising.  Construction/Acceptance of base/subgrade. designer.  Access and placement facilities/techniques not easy to be managed. e) Environmental aspects. concrete structures subcontractor .  Specified tolerances.

shall describe the methods of support. Construction joints in mat foundations.  Site layout of points of discharge with main equipment involved. tying.  Updated and detailed bill of quantities of r. Construction joints should not be made at critical positions Annex F. equipment breakdown .  List of mix (according to weather conditions).  Jointing programme/procedure (namely with regard to construction joints). procedure for handling will-call orders and revised orders. Last minute changes when concrete has already been ordered or is waiting on site risk to create additional problems. vibration equipment access and aggregates size). embedded items. responsabilities for ordering concrete and reviewing delivery ticket before placement and turnaround time for trucks. unkeying.2 (1).  Placement detailed plan (including number and thickness of layers. intentional precambering.8. adjusting. plants and vehicles involved (including standby if any).  Procedure for reporting anomalies and corrective actions. waterstops.g. The second inspection should take place when rebars. floors very rarely are specified/detailed/planned/inspected: too often the matter is left to the improvisation. erection and dismantling.  Montly and weekly schedule and daily concreting timing with placement rates. The cheklist analyzes specific problems like minimum notice required for most placements and large and specialty placements.4 (1) that a method statement . The following list of documents may give an idea of the content of a concreting plan:  Contacts names and phone/e-mail of partecipants/responsible persons. embedded items.3 Concreting plan documents The above checklist can be used at different stages of planning. It is not the job of site carpenters to take informations/dimensions from mechanical. The inspection plan should provide a preliminary check prior to rebar placement to verify correct geometry of the forms: to do this coordinated placing drawings with details of opening frames shall be provided. sequence and direction) with trucks/pumps and other equipment involved  Compaction programme/procedure.  Information required on delivery ticket.  Testing updated and detailed plan. electrical and plumbing drawings to concrete structures drawings. severe weather). 7 .  Environmental and safety plan. walls. About forms the checklist ask to define responsabilities both for installation and inspection of reinforcement (namely with regard to location and spacing to allow for concrete cover. loading. sealing and protection programme/procedure.c structures and related specifications. it shall specify the requirements for handling. drains and opening frames. striking and dismantling.  Inspection plan.Defects encounterd in most italian sites show that forms and jointing are worthy of further analysis. UNI EN 13670 says at Clause 5. While other aspects are supposed to be well known by concrete structures engineers items concerning ordering and scheduling concrete are often wrongly underestimated. 3.  Procedure concerning alternatives in case of emergency (e. The third final inspection should be done just before placing concrete. waterstops and drains are on place: then there is time to make corrections if any and to clean properly the forms.  Finishing programme/procedure. Inspection just before concreting is at least not effective: it is very difficult to make reliable corrections when all reinforcement is on place.  Curing. where required by the execution specification. It underlines the need to plan three inspections at different stages.

Water corrections may be carried out automatically (e.g.m batched in plants without a premixer (in Italy more than 90%) there may be some problem: small orders should then be avoided.1 General Check of the delivery ticket prior to discharge is a normative requirement whatever is the execution class: Clause 8.2 Records of real quantities of components batched Batching facilities normally ensure the respect of tolerances provided by EN 206-1. Most of ready mix concrete plants are now able to print on the delivery documents records of real quantities of components batched and other relevant data (e. c) Water automatically dosed (sometimes from different sources: well. Recycled water when approved and used should be recorded separately: two meters are therefore needed. Such corrections after batching are often unavoidable and shall be carefully planned. 4. Water that contributes to the w/c ratio consists of: a) Water already present in the drum before batching (e. Significant times have also to be recorded on delivery ticket as well as water and admixtures added after batching.g. with oven drying) at any arising change should be carried out at batching plants to ensure at least 0. Only in case of less of three cu. Specially in plants where recycled water is kept moving by an agitator fines percentage is highly variable and may affect significantly admixture behaviour. Concrete inspectors should have full knowledge of batching facilities and related automation software to be able to analyse relevant records in order to verify conformity before unloading and to evaluate how to carry on corrections if needed. only in view to avoid excess of waste. Data recorded may also be used to analyse “a posteriori“ arised problems to make possible to carry on effective corrective actions. 8 .3 (1) Test methods and criteria for determining the conformity and identity of concrete are given in EN 206-1. Some admixture may be dosed manually in small quantities as well as fibers. they have normally to be recorded by hand.4 CHECK OF DELIVERY TICKET PRIOR TO DISCHARGE 4. estimated aggregates humidity) . d) Water corrections. Systematic fast checkings (e. Aggregates humidity is not easy to be evaluated especially if they are not conditioned (e. then they should not be allowed. recycled). properly drained .6% precision (that is about 10 liters/cum). b) Aggregates (fine and coarse) humidity.g. no more than 75 liters of so called “predosed“ water should be allowed. covered etc. They need to be timely tuned and cleaned: both large fluctuations in short time and fixed values in a long period need further check. Resulting from drum washing). they may take place at the batching plant or before delivering. Tests are necessarly concerning only a part of delivered concrete. by fixed steps) or manually. The first water is difficult to be estimated: drums should be empty before batching. The major concern is water.): humidity probes not always show to be reliable namely for coarse aggregates. In special controlled cases. Further useful informations may be obtained from data recorded on delivery tickets.g. managed and controlled: a single water addition at delivery to bring the slump up to the specified limit without affecting w/c ratio should be evaluated and agreed if considered to be necessary and correct. Nevertheless anomalies may occur and their management recorded: batching reports should be regularly reviewed in order to correct any malfunction or mistake.g.

Design activities of concrete mix should give all the necessary attention to the evaluation of the consistence retention time. aggregates water absorption. In the view of screening the problems percentages of corrections more than 10/15 liters per cum should be investigated. Then there is a waiting time before unloading: it may last few minutes or much more according to good or bad coordination between site and batching plant: faults are often shared. An effective concrete quality control on site should include coordinated checking at the batching plant and on delivery tickets. A Guidance issued in 2003 through STC (Servizio Tecnico Centrale del Consiglio Superiore dei Lavori Pubblici) concerning ready mix concrete require 120 minutes as limit time for unloading. Specifications should not allow too far concrete supplies and give preference to plants located nearby the site. otherwise admixtures addition should be provided or concrete rejected. temperature of cement and aggregates. Concreting planning should make sure that the required consistence retention time is indicated in the concrete specifications and it is not exceeded. All involved variables concerning components characteristics bring to a precision not less than 15 liters of water /cum of concrete: that means that often water corrections are unavoidable to get the specified consistence.g. Such specification appears to be not conservative especially in hot weather conditions. provided that testing according to CEN CR 13902 is time consuming and not enough accurate the only effective method is to analyse reliable records It is quite evident that if only one of the above water quantities is not taken in account all records concerning w/c ratio are useless. Transport times vary according to distance and traffic: they are manually recorded by drivers when arriving on site. Checking the w/c actual ratio is one of the main objectives of concrete quality control on site. There are many other uncertainties/fluctuations: e. real weight of batched aggregates. A systematic checking of times printed on delivery tickets may detect single or frequent anomalies (namely lack of coordination between site and batching plant or excessive slow rate of placement) which can be promptly corrected. Only the complete analysis of these corrections can give information on anomalies to allow for their reduction and finally ensure the constancy of concrete properties related to w/c ratio: it may bring to review the mix or to better adjust the batching plant equipment. No recorded corrections does not mean necessarly that everything is OK. Placement time depends on equipment used and specified placement rate: completed unloading time is recorded. The sum of all these times should not exceed the specified consistence retention time. nevertheless this time is often exceeded due to lack of control. 9 .3 Records of times Delivery tickets shall have times printed according to EN 206-1. in absence of adequate measures (like the use of retarding admixtures). 4. Also in this case a detailed analysis can be helpful : percentages of waiting times in excess of 20/30 minutes and total times more than 75/90 minutes should get the necessary attention as well as times over 120 minutes without the use/addition of retarding admixtures may generate understandable suspicions . Normally delivery tickets show the time (automatically recorded) of the completion of batching and mixing operations: let’s say that concrete life has started about 10 minutes before. Sistematic corrections with admixtures are quite difficult to be managed. admixtures behaviour.

The Contractor’s Guide to Quality Concrete Construction. All project partecipants should experience the practice of coordinating concreting planning and implementing reliable inspection routine. UNI EN 13670 introduces here for the first time detailed specification concerning the planning. REFERENCES American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) American Concrete Institute (ACI). (2005).5 CONCLUSIONS Most concrete defects are due to lack of planning and implementation of an effective quality control concerning execution activities. In Italy there is not a good practice of specification writing. Italian designers should get familiar with the content of this standard to be able to define QC management options and specific requirements. 10 . Systematic analysis of records of real quantities of components batched (including corrections) and times printed in delivery tickets can help to prevent many anomalies. Testing fresh and hardened concrete on site can detect only a part of the problems. execution and inspection of concrete structures.