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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 czampighi@iol.it


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.

Figure 1. System of European Standards as basis for design, execution and materials
selection for concrete works (only main modules)
While other European States like France, U.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.
1.2 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.
It provides that , when drawing up its technical specifications , a contracting entity shall
refer to national standards transposing European standards, European technical
approvals and international standards (see Art.68 Dlegs 163/2006).
Art.43 of DPR 207/2010 gives details of the contents of technical specifications.
Despite that, most of technical specifications included in tender documents issued
nowadays in Italy are not updated , not fully pertinent to the object of the project, not
enough detailed and finally do not respect this requirement.
1.3 2008 NTC
Issued january 14th 2008 and mandatory from june 30th 2009 on the wave of lAquila
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 .
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.
On the other hand a very short paragraph (4.1.7 Execution) prescribes execution
specifications giving reference to UNI EN 13670-1 : 2001 which has been generally
ignored by most of italian concrete structures professionals.
It is a fact that italian concrete structures sites have widely experienced in the last
decades a very poor execution quality control.

A new revision of NTC is on the way.

2.1 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.
This set of documents (covering all drawings, technical data and requirements necessary
for the execution of a particular project) is referred to as the execution specification.
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.
Project Managers should state in the brief QC management strategy and design
activities should follow accordingly.
Two main items are here analyzed: options related to execution classes and to curing
2.2 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,
testing and gauging).
Requirements for quality management are specified using one of the three classes for
which the required strictness increases from class 1 to class 3.
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).
The italian national annex to EN 1990:2002 recently approved (september 24th 2010)
has not introduced any specific requirement.
Execution class 1 should only be used for structures where consequences in case of
failure are small or negligible.
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.
The execution class may refer to the complete structure, to components of the structure
or to certain materials/technologies.
The execution class to be used shall be stated in the execution specification.
Subjects for inspection of execution are:
a) Scaffolding, formwork and false work;
b) Embedded items;
c) Ordinary reinforcement;
d) Prestressing reinforcement (if present only execution classes 2 and 3 apply);
e) Site transport and casting and curing of concrete;
f) Erection of precast elements.
For execution classes 2 and 3 an inspection plan shall be prepared, an inspection report
shall be issued and as built drawings arranged.
For inspection in execution class 2, there should be, in addition to the self inspection, an
internal systematic and regular inspection with fixed routines within the company that is
performing the work that is an internal systematic inspection.
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.
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
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

This includes inspection of formwork, reinforcement , cleaning before casting concrete,
concreting and curing, prestressing etc.
The above scenario is quite normal in most European countries.
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.K. and Netherlands.
The italian context shows significant deficiences and UNI EN 13670 gives the
opportunity of a strong improvement.
First of all it shall be stressed the need of updated, detailed and project related execution
specifications : Table A1 of Annex A should be currently used by structural designers.
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.
Few inspection reports are recorded in the Journal of works : results of inspection
should be systematically and fully recorded.
Some civil engineering works like railways (managed by ITALFER) and highways
(managed by AUTOBRENNERO, AUTOVIE VENETE, 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.
Items like formwork detailing (clause 5.4) , inserts and embedded components (clause
5.6), installation of reinforcement and concrete cover (clause 6.5), protection and curing
(clause 8.5) should get more attention through specific inspection plans, procedures and
Construction joints rarely are designed and concreting in very hot weather conditions is
too often allowed without reliable precautions: see clause 8.2 (4) and (10).
Many other important and critical structures, technologies and projects (e.g. special
foundations , prestressed structures, strategic buildings in class IV, buildings in seismic
zones 1 and 2) should have assigned and fully implemented execution class 3.
Clause 4.2.2 (see also Art.43 of DPR 207/2010) state that QC management should rely,
when provided in the execution specifications, on a quality plan.
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; then class 1 should be limited to minor
urbanization structures and buildings with negligible risks .
There are rare examples of implementation of execution inspection plans class 2 like,
provided that construction companies, to which the italian law assigns almost all
responsabilities, 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 .
A mandatory more detailed Journal of works recording results of the inspections
concerning main items as per clauses 5 , 6 , 8 and 10 should be in such cases advised.
Execution record documentation (Clause 4.2.3 and A.4.2.3) should include:
a) Sources of materials, materials test reports and/or suppliers declaration of
performance; applications for variations and the responses;
b) As built drawings;
c) Non conformities and corrective actions taken;
d) Record of accepted changes to the project specification;
e) Documentation of the inspections and records of checks at hand over;
f) Events of significance for the properties of the finished structure;
g) Weather conditions during casting and curing.
This approach necessarly implies a radical cultural change in all professionals in Italy:
project manager (Responsabile Procedimento) , designers and site engineers (Direttore
Lavori , Collaudatore), and site managers.
They have now the opportunity to use a complete set of updated standards.
Not less responsibility is assigned to associations and regulation bodies.

2.3 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.
Most of cracks due to excessive shrinkage are due to lack of curing.
Technical specifications rarely are detailed to this regard and almost never respected.
Natural curing is sufficient only when conditions throughout the required curing period
are such that evaporation rates from the concrete surface are low, e.g. in damp, rainy or
foggy weather.
The increase of the use of mixes with low bleeding tendency, like high strength and self
compacting concrete advises special considerations in order to prevent plastic shrinkage
cracking on free surfaces; this applies also for concreting under weather conditions that
cause strong evaporation like hot weather, wind as well as in cold and dry air.
Curing shall start without delay on completion of compaction and finishing operations.
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.
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.
Tables F1 , F2 , F3 of Annex F give the duration of curing in number of days deemed to
satisfy the curing classes 2 , 3 and 4 in relation to surface concrete temperature (from 5
C to above 25 C) and rates (rapid, medium and slow) of concrete strength development
The curing class shall be stated in the execution specification.
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,
choice of concrete composition and concrete cover to the reinforcement, without
neglecting climatic conditions and size of elements.
Methods for protecting and curing concrete are well known and resumed in Annex F.8.5
of UNI EN 13670 ; they shall achieve low evaporation rates from the concrete surface or
keep the surface permanently wet.
Rate of evaporation depends on concrete and air temperature, relative umidity and wind
velocity (wich can be minimized only with windbreaks).
Concrete temperature can be controlled by using low heat cements and keeping cold the
main components: aggregates, cement and water.
In most sites in Italy in summer time concrete temperature is often exceeding 30 C with
peaks near 40 C ; measures to cool concrete components are rare.
Aggregates are almost never protected and water sprayed.
Curing shall be an important part of execution specification, inspection planning and
recording: responsabilities involved in implementation of correct curing methods and
periods as well as associated inspection procedures should be defined.
Once curing class has been specified, the site engineer shall verify the correct starting of
related activities; easy spot checking by rebound hammer can confirm the achievement
of the provided concrete strength: results shall be recorded.
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, class of curing and materials/devices to be employed.
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.

3.1 General
A concreting plan shall be prepared where required by the execution specification:
Clause 8.2 (1).
Every day experience learns that without a suitable concreting planning problems are
inevitably arising.
It may seem trite to say that the site should be fully ready before concrete is ordered.
It is surprising how often this is not done with detrimental consequences.
UNI EN 13670 underlines that the concrete structures designer, who should have the
necessary experience and knowledge, when writing the execution specifications, 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.
Some common examples of specific pours may be:
Unusual volume or timing;
Access and placement facilities/techniques not easy to be managed;
Concrete working life lasting more than two and half hours;
Special finishing;
Mix not easy to be managed (e.g. air entrained XF3-F4 with type IV cement).
It is understood that a concreting plan consists of written documents.
The designer may give a guideline on how carry on this activitiy that will concern
necessarly all partecipants: owner, designer, site engineer, safety engineer, general
contractor , concrete structures subcontractor , concrete producer, admixture supplier,
concrete delivery and pumping subcontractor, concrete finisher, testing laboratory and
any other involved in the project.
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.
3.2 How to prepare a concreting plan
The U.S.A. 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 , it can serve any concrete structures site .
Aspects taken in consideration are:
a) Project information;
b) Construction process;
c) Concrete Materials and required mix design
d) Ordering and scheduling concrete;
e) Environmental aspects;
f) Quality control/assurance;
g) Safety.
Each subject is dealt as appropriate; items affecting the construction process are
analyzed in a deep detail in order to define responsabilities too:
Construction/Placement drawings and specifications review;
Sequence of construction and meteo monitoring (temperature and humidity);
Construction/Acceptance of base/subgrade;
Access , discharge facilities and vehicle addressing;
Power ,lighting and water facilities;
Forms and vapor retarder/barrier;
Strike off and finishing techniques;
Specified tolerances;
Curing, sealing and protection of concrete;
Form removal.
Procedures for hot and cold weather concreting.

Defects encounterd in most italian sites show that forms and jointing are worthy of
further analysis.
UNI EN 13670 says at Clause 5.4 (1) that a method statement , where required by the
execution specification, shall describe the methods of support, erection and dismantling;
it shall specify the requirements for handling, adjusting, tying, intentional precambering,
loading, unkeying, striking and dismantling.
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, vibration equipment access and aggregates size), embedded items,
waterstops, drains and opening frames.
It underlines the need to plan three inspections at different stages.
Inspection just before concreting is at least not effective: it is very difficult to make
reliable corrections when all reinforcement is on place.
Last minute changes when concrete has already been ordered or is waiting on site risk to
create additional problems.
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.
It is not the job of site carpenters to take informations/dimensions from mechanical,
electrical and plumbing drawings to concrete structures drawings.
The second inspection should take place when rebars, embedded items, waterstops and
drains are on place: then there is time to make corrections if any and to clean properly
the forms.
The third final inspection should be done just before placing concrete.
Construction joints in mat foundations, walls, floors very rarely are
specified/detailed/planned/inspected: too often the matter is left to the improvisation.
Construction joints should not be made at critical positions Annex F.8.2 (1).
While other aspects are supposed to be well known by concrete structures engineers
items concerning ordering and scheduling concrete are often wrongly underestimated.
The cheklist analyzes specific problems like minimum notice required for most
placements and large and specialty placements, procedure for handling will-call orders
and revised orders, responsabilities for ordering concrete and reviewing delivery ticket
before placement and turnaround time for trucks.
3.3 Concreting plan documents
The above checklist can be used at different stages of planning.
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;
Updated and detailed bill of quantities of r.c structures and related specifications;
List of mix (according to weather conditions), plants and vehicles involved
(including standby if any);
Information required on delivery ticket;
Testing updated and detailed plan;
Montly and weekly schedule and daily concreting timing with placement rates;
Site layout of points of discharge with main equipment involved;
Jointing programme/procedure (namely with regard to construction joints);
Inspection plan;
Placement detailed plan (including number and thickness of layers, sequence and
direction) with trucks/pumps and other equipment involved
Compaction programme/procedure;
Finishing programme/procedure;
Curing, sealing and protection programme/procedure.
Procedure concerning alternatives in case of emergency (e.g. equipment
breakdown , severe weather);
Procedure for reporting anomalies and corrective actions;
Environmental and safety plan.


4.1 General
Check of the delivery ticket prior to discharge is a normative requirement whatever is
the execution class: Clause 8.3 (1)
Test methods and criteria for determining the conformity and identity of concrete are
given in EN 206-1.
Tests are necessarly concerning only a part of delivered concrete.
Further useful informations may be obtained from data recorded on delivery tickets.
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.g. estimated
aggregates humidity) .
Some admixture may be dosed manually in small quantities as well as fibers; they have
normally to be recorded by hand.
Significant times have also to be recorded on delivery ticket as well as water and
admixtures added after batching.
Such corrections after batching are often unavoidable and shall be carefully planned,
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.
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.
Data recorded may also be used to analyse a posteriori arised problems to make
possible to carry on effective corrective actions.
4.2 Records of real quantities of components batched
Batching facilities normally ensure the respect of tolerances provided by EN 206-1.
Only in case of less of three cu.m batched in plants without a premixer (in Italy more
than 90%) there may be some problem: small orders should then be avoided.
Nevertheless anomalies may occur and their management recorded: batching reports
should be regularly reviewed in order to correct any malfunction or mistake.
The major concern is water.
Water that contributes to the w/c ratio consists of:
a) Water already present in the drum before batching (e.g. Resulting from drum
b) Aggregates (fine and coarse) humidity;
c) Water automatically dosed (sometimes from different sources: well, recycled);
d) Water corrections.
The first water is difficult to be estimated: drums should be empty before batching.
In special controlled cases, only in view to avoid excess of waste, no more than 75 liters
of so called predosed water should be allowed.
Aggregates humidity is not easy to be evaluated especially if they are not conditioned
(e.g. properly drained , covered etc.): humidity probes not always show to be reliable
namely for coarse aggregates.
They need to be timely tuned and cleaned: both large fluctuations in short time and fixed
values in a long period need further check.
Systematic fast checkings (e.g. with oven drying) at any arising change should be carried
out at batching plants to ensure at least 0.6% precision (that is about 10 liters/cum).
Recycled water when approved and used should be recorded separately: two meters are
therefore needed.
Specially in plants where recycled water is kept moving by an agitator fines percentage
is highly variable and may affect significantly admixture behaviour.
Water corrections may be carried out automatically (e.g. by fixed steps) or manually;
they may take place at the batching plant or before delivering; then they should not be

Design activities of concrete mix should give all the necessary attention to the
evaluation of the consistence retention time.
Checking the w/c actual ratio is one of the main objectives of concrete quality control on
site; 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.
There are many other uncertainties/fluctuations: e.g. aggregates water absorption,
admixtures behaviour, real weight of batched aggregates, temperature of cement and
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.
Sistematic corrections with admixtures are quite difficult to be managed.
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
In the view of screening the problems percentages of corrections more than 10/15 liters
per cum should be investigated.
No recorded corrections does not mean necessarly that everything is OK.
An effective concrete quality control on site should include coordinated checking at the
batching plant and on delivery tickets.
4.3 Records of times
Delivery tickets shall have times printed according to EN 206-1.
Normally delivery tickets show the time (automatically recorded) of the completion of
batching and mixing operations: lets say that concrete life has started about 10 minutes
Transport times vary according to distance and traffic: they are manually recorded by
drivers when arriving on site.
Specifications should not allow too far concrete supplies and give preference to plants
located nearby the site.
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
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,
otherwise admixtures addition should be provided or concrete rejected.
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, in absence of adequate measures (like the use of retarding
Such specification appears to be not conservative especially in hot weather conditions;
nevertheless this time is often exceeded due to lack of control.
Concreting planning should make sure that the required consistence retention time is
indicated in the concrete specifications and it is not exceeded.
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.
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 .

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.
UNI EN 13670 introduces here for the first time detailed specification concerning the
planning, execution and inspection of concrete structures.
Italian designers should get familiar with the content of this standard to be able to define
QC management options and specific requirements.
All project partecipants should experience the practice of coordinating concreting
planning and implementing reliable inspection routine.
Testing fresh and hardened concrete on site can detect only a part of the problems.
Systematic analysis of records of real quantities of components batched (including
corrections) and times printed in delivery tickets can help to prevent many anomalies.
American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) American Concrete Institute (ACI).
(2005). The Contractors Guide to Quality Concrete Construction.