Non-destructive testing (NDT) of civil structures (RP1081)

Techniques, methodologies and implementation


CIRIA is developing guidance for civil infrastructure owners and operators, managers and maintainers. The guidance will present the plethora of NDE techniques available in the marketplace, detail their respective strengths and weaknesses and provide guidance on when it would be most appropriate to use NDE for assessing the condition of structures.


CIRIA’s guide (C764) Hidden defects in bridges – guidance for detection and management identified the risks from hidden defects forming in a variety of bridge structures, providing an evidence base of failures, disruptions and closures as a result. Building on this evidence CIRIA are developing guidance on how and when UAVs (RP1063) and SHM systems (RP1066) should be used and their role as part of an overall asset management strategy. Allied to UAVs and SHM for assessing the condition of structures are non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques, of which there are many.

NDT is nothing new but the techniques are still not widely understood. If one also considers the advances in technology and data management it can be difficult to judge when it is most appropriate to adopt them for assessing the condition of assets, particularly when other innovations and technologies (i.e. UAVs and SHM systems) can also be deployed.

A key facet of the CIRIA guidance will be evidence on where NDT has been used and the strengths and weakness of various techniques in assessing asset condition. CIRIA guidance will demonstrate the value and impact of NDT and its role as part of an overall asset management strategy. Examples of NDT techniques include magnetic particle; metal hardening testing; radiography; ferroscan; concrete testing; impact echo; ultrasonics; automated ultrasonics; phased array ultrasonics, eddy current testing and acoustic omissions.

A short guidance document (approx. 40-50 pages) that will add to CIRIA’s extensive suite of infrastructure asset management research closely aligned with our research on UAVs and SHM.

Project Status
CIRIA has awarded the research contract to Mott MacDonald. 

Further information

For more information or to get involved email Jack Young at CIRIA.