2021 started with a change in organisational structure with our Transport business combining with our Energy business unit to support the energy transition of this sector. Real Estate and Infrastructure combined to form a new business unit.
Following the huge success of the Genoa bridge demolition/reconstruction project, we acquired two major contracts in Genoa to support electrification of the public transport system and the expansion of the Sestri Ponente shipyards. These important contracts strengthen our position for strategic growth in PMC services.
We consolidated our position in transport infrastructure inspection activities by acquiring and developing technical activities relating to all nine Autostrade per l’Italia trunk direction, which affect over 3,000 km of motorways. In Asset Integrity Management, we further developed an experimental monitoring system for dynamic monitoring of work of art bridges and galleries for ANAS.
Despite the ongoing effects of COVID, our smart working approach and security and safety measures for site working ensured our business resilience. We worked on over 300 contracts and provided 220,000 hours of engineering in 2021, covering over 400,000 m2 of buildings and urban development and over 100 km of road design.
During the year, we also worked to fully integrate the Comete Engineering business in Tunis into the business unit and engaged a new colleague to develop business in the Middle East.
During 2021, in line with the ever so fast changing sector of infrastructures, digitalizing both internal processes and the way we deliver our services was paramount for RINA. We took a big step towards the digital transformation of our business unit with full implementation of Building Integrity Modeling (BIM) and cloud-based sharing and collaboration systems which allows our clients to now benefit from an all-round digitalized approach.
Our innovative Resilient Construction Worksite, released in 2021, is a temporary and articulated production system and aims at guaranteeing operational continuity in compliance with regulatory frameworks using advanced technologies. It addresses the needs of increasing worker safety, whilst minimising work interruptions and consequent delays, therefore reducing risks of economic and legal damage.
We have also adopted two solutions for Smart Inspections: AI-based autonomous systems and smart helmets. AI-based inspections use autonomous, unmanned systems to perform inspections in areas that are harsh or difficult to reach. This service can improve the accuracy of damage detection and behavioural forecasting. Smart helmets provide remote guidance from expert technicians to operators on site. The solution can reduce the time taken for inspections, ensure deep investigations are carried out where needed, and help preserve operator safety.
For Conditional Assessment of transport infrastructure, we developed a tool to provide risk assessment and economic impact from asset mechanical and geometrical parameters. It considers the characterisation of multiple hazards and exposure in terms of structural damage, service downtime, etc. It integrates civil and transport engineering analysis to determine the effects of damage from natural events by assessing the level of service before and after events, economic impact, and resilience. This innovative tool will support infrastructure managers in anticipating potential disruptions and implementing mitigating measures.
Our work in decarbonisation included feasibility studies for cold ironing projects in ports and ‘Green Ports’ project proposals to create clean energy hubs with integrated electricity systems, hydrogen and low-carbon fuels, and waste re-use to promote a circular economy. We further conducted several activities for sustainability and energy efficiency of air and seaport terminal buildings.
Agenda 2030 targets for decarbonisation mean real estate businesses are investing in building efficiency and we are seeing significant growth in our services for energy efficiency, ESG impact assessment, and ESG rating. We have set up new tools and software for ESG services and are being proactive in helping our clients meet new requirements and listening to their needs. Our Prime Green Solutions, launched at the end of 2020, started operating in 2021 has executed energy efficiency projects for more than 250 buildings in Italy during year and we have a strong pipeline of over €500 million in building renovations.
We supported several clients in decarbonisation pathways, including assisting in the application of Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitoring (CRREM). This tool provides a comprehensive framework of exposure and strategies to reduce carbon risk. It includes elements needed to undertake scenario analysis and can be used to comply with initiatives such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the EU Taxonomy for sustainability.
RINA Prime Value Services has further assisted several clients in defining their sustainability policies and improving the impact of their assets with BREEAM/LEED/WELL assessments of existing buildings.
We expect infrastructure markets to be buoyant in 2022 thanks to the huge government PNNR investment on recovery and reconstruction in Italy and we will continue to strengthen our position in PMC services to support this activity. Both public and private organisations require PMC services to ensure projects can be completed to time and budget, and we have strong credentials to support them. Our services for assessment and structural monitoring of existing public infrastructure will support public agencies in ensuring maintenance to the highest standards.
We will continue to invest in the digitalisation of services, such as BIM, digital twin, digital platforms for project management, and remote inspection to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in providing innovative solutions. Over the next two years we will implement our BIM model on collaborative, digital platforms, enabling us to standardise and optimise internal processes and control and manage data flows. This platform will reduce planning times, costs and error margins during design phases, and improve coordination between disciplines.
Geographically, we will work to boost our footprint in Africa and work to establish contracts in the Middle East with our new Business Development Manager. We will also be looking to acquire new business in the Balkan region, where there are good opportunities for contracts, especially in transport infrastructure. We will further look for merger and acquisition prospects in the USA to enable us to capture opportunities relating to the Biden infrastructure plan. Overall, however, we will continue to work with public and private clients on the huge investment in Italy’s recovery plan, from which we can leverage international expansion.
In Real Estate, we believe decarbonisation, ESG and Proptech will continue as increasing trends for the next 10 years and our strategic plan fully supports investment in these areas. Following our success in the domestic market, we will look for international expansion within Europe, specifically Poland, Germany, France and Spain, with new offices and possible acquisitions. RINA Prime Value Services is working on a number of condominium building developments, with the aim of achieving a total turnover of €500-800 million in 2022. We will consolidate our position with reference to ESG services and be fully involved in research of new ideas and services.
Optimisation through digitalisation
During 2021, RINA provided materials, monitoring and project management expertise to a project to optimise the manufacturing process for prefabricated concrete breakwater using IoT sensors. The sensors, which were embedded in the concrete during casting, measure the temperature at the core of the fresh concrete to calculate compressive strength evolution of the structure over time. Once the target mechanical resistance has been reached, the system automatically sends a message to enable demoulding and next production steps to be carried out. The system optimises production times and ensures quality control of the manufacturing process.
Comparing FEM model and experimental data for model updating
RINA provided services for design and implementation of a structural health monitoring system using IoT sensors for a viaduct in the Lombardy region. The project required analysis of existing documentation, preliminary dynamic characterisation of the railway bridge deck using operational modal analysis, and then creation of the finite element model and model updating based on experimental results. RINA further provided design and specification of the permanent monitoring system based on the analysis and modelling and carried out hardware procurement and test of the measurement chain. It then supervised the installation and carried out testing of the system and implemented the software management platform. The system will optimise maintenance of the viaduct and provide behavioural analysis.
Technical, environmental and social guidance for new mega cruise terminal
The MSC Cruises Two-berth Terminal Project will run for 10 years. Highly complex in its design, it will provide two berths for vessels, each capable of taking up to 7,000 passengers; parking; intermodal and road infrastructure; ground transportation facilities, and offices which will serve as MSC’s US headquarters. Alongside advisory services for technical, environmental and social matters, RINA is providing coordination between MSC, Lenders Group, and construction contractors through all stages of the financing cycle. One of the main tasks of the project relates to the Environmental and Social Due-Diligence, which aims to evaluate whether projected climate change risks and adaptation measures to enhance port resilience have been assessed adequately in the design phase.
One of the largest dry docks in Europe
The renewal of the Genoa Sestri Ponente port basin is a series of activities relating to urban hydraulic safety combined with rationalisation of areas dedicated to shipbuilding through the construction of a new dry dock and docks that will cater for large ships over 150,000 tons. The project, which is one of the most important for the city, includes development of the industrial areas between Multedo and Sestri Ponente, rationalising accessibility of the industrial port area through improved road and rail networks. Through a multidisciplinary team and based on its experience with the Polcevera Viaduct, RINA is providing project and construction management services, including design review, legal advisory, support during the tender phase, construction supervision, safety control, quality control services.
The dry dock will be one of the biggest in Europe and is an important step for the industrial renewal and development of the city of Genoa. The overall project comprises a series of complex projects that are strictly linked together.
Complete renovation of a city’s public transport system
Commencing in June 2021, the project to completely renovate the public transport system in the city of Genoa includes replacement of diesel vehicles with 145 zero-emission electric vehicles, 96 km of new tracks, new interchange, parking, and additional user stops. For this important project in a high populated urban environment, RINA will support the client in all phases of the final design and will assist in the preparation of the call for tenders for the project design and execution. It will further provide safety coordination and construction management services until works are complete.
A unique technological building
Located in the ESA-ESTEC campus in Noordwijk, the Hertz building will house the largest anechoic chamber in Europe and is becoming the biggest satellite test facility ever built on the continent. RINA is providing design and cost assessment services as part of a framework agreement with the European Space Agency, signed in 2016, for the delivery of full engineering services, including concept design, detailed design, PMC services, construction supervision, and commissioning activities, related to the ESA-ESTEC campus.
The new building has complex and high technical requirements, including the capability to absorb high levels of vibrations, high-tech clean environments, specific environmental controls, and specific utility services, such as emergency power, compressed air, liquid nitrogen, and fire suppression system. The project is fully BIM engineered and designed in compliance with strict Dutch environmental regulations.
At the start of 2021, RINA was awarded a contract for construction supervision and safety control for the hydraulic adjustment of embankments to protect settlements located in the floodplain of the Entella stream. It includes a system of interventions on minor banks to reduce hydrogeological risk. RINA is providing a multidisciplinary team to support the project needs, including civil, environmental, and hydraulic engineers, and architects, along with a geologist, archaeologist, and agronomist. The team will support the client throughout the whole project, from feasibility through to construction.
Minimising acoustic pollution
With the need to improve the current transport system, a new extension of the Brin-Canepari and Brignole Martinex links of the Genoa underground network. The project will be carried out in a highly urbanised area and requires research into technological solution that will minimise the impact of noise pollution. RINA is providing its expertise in civil and railway systems, environmental quality control and project supervision.
Coordination of work safety
The project to restore the Bisagno viaduct on Autostrada A12, Sestri Levante, commenced in April 2021 and is planned to run until the end of 2023. RINA is providing the coordination for work safety during the restoration, helping ensure the careful dismantling of scaffolding within an urban area for a viaduct that passes above residential buildings and roads. Alongside traditional health and safety competencies, RINA is evaluating some innovative system to minimise the presence of high open sites and reduce the risks for urban areas below the viaduct.
Ensuring safe demolition with presence of asbestos
RINA is providing Works Safety Coordination for the demolition of a degraded thermoelectric plant in Vigliena, Naples. The plant was built after World War II and used massive amounts of asbestos, requiring demolition works to be carried out with strict health and safety measures and a close interface with the Supervisory Bodies in accordance with Legislative Decree 81/2008. The project will analyse and adopt the most suitable demolition techniques to address the specific and hazardous site challenges. RINA is providing qualified safety coordinators with extensive experience to ensure all safety requirements are met.
Digital innovation in hospital design
The King Salman University Hospital is part of the improvement of health services in the city of Kairouan and the surrounding region. The hospital will have a capacity of 500 beds, expandable to 770 and covers an area of 70,000 m2.
Through Comete, RINA is providing the client, DAR Engineering International, with a large multidisciplinary team to support them in architectural and space concepts, traffic studies, development of preliminary design studies, assistance with procurement, and works supervision. The project started in 2020 and will run to 2024 and the design is being carried out entirely in BIM, using collaborative design tools.
Mapping asset defects using remote drones
In a two-month project, RINA used remote drones to inspect the status of around 30 assets managed by ANAS SpA in the Tuscany region. Work was carried out by qualified bridge inspectors in accordance with ANAS guidelines, along with drone operators and all defects mapped and recorded on a BMS platform. The data collected is used for further assessment and to identify mitigating measures required to restore an asset’s status to its nominal level. Any defects were clearly and precisely mapped to enable restoration to be carried out.
Innovative inspection methods
The scope of this project is a campaign of technical inspections, including remote inspections using drones, of restraint devices and noise barriers on several sections of the Italian motorway network. Any defects are stored and geotagged into a centralised digital platform, which provides real-time access to users to check the status of each device. RINA is developing the digital tool to automate data analysis and make data available to platform users in this project, which combines traditional strong technical expertise with innovative new technologies. Alongside senior inspectors and engineers, the RINA team includes a drone pilot for this novel application.
Technical and environmental social due diligence and monitoring
RINA is providing technical and environmental social due diligence to the PAPAN project, based on a framework agreed between Italian poultry sector operators and Ivory Coast governmental PAPAN stakeholders. Working with the Local Ministry of Finance, the project aims to improve the competitiveness of local poultry products and to create a modern poultry production chain. RINA is providing technical, environmental and social experts, training, and capacity building experts to support the project, which was acquired and developed by joint efforts from the RINA Consulting and Comete teams.
Fair value of properties owned by a bank
In a contract awarded in January 2021, RINA Prime is providing real estate portfolio valuation for the purpose of financial status for a financial institute. The ongoing contract required valuation of approximately 1,200 assets within three months. Inspection activities were carried out using digital tools, such as smart helmets and Smart Appraisal Prime. The valuation services are preliminary to further ESG-related activities, such as ESG Due Diligence and the decarbonisation process, as set out by the European Regulations.
RINA Prime becomes a partner of the first bank in Italy
In September 2021, RINA Prime was awarded a contract for Bank Appraisals through Origination, Monitoring, and Non-Performing credits for private and corporate clients for the first bank in Italy. The contract requires a quick response to high volume assignments provided by the bank, which is being supported using digital tools including smart helmets and Smart Appraisal Prime. The Bank Appraisal reports are carried out in accordance with the main national and international standards, ABI, EBA, Banca d’Italia and RICS.
Supporting an international sporting event
RINA has been awarded a contract for project monitoring of lenders for a client who is building all the infrastructure around the area of the main Ice Arena for the Winter Olympics in 2026. Timelines for the construction are critical and building works will be to LEED rating.
Rapid repossession and sale of assets
Awarded in September 2021, NPLs RE Solutions, a subsidiary of RINA Prime Value Services that specialises in remarketing operations was awarded a contract for facility management and remarketing of repossessed assets. Work is carried out on the ARES 2.0 IT platform, to enable management of serval suppliers and operational processes, with the support of additional digital tools, including smart helmets and Smart Appraisal Prime. RINA’s services are aimed at optimising the selling process and increasing sales revenue performance.
Adequate and affordable wastewater management
In a project that commenced in October 2021, RINA is supporting Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) in the development and implementation of improvements to provide adequate and affordable wastewater management. The study includes consideration for rehabilitating and reinforcing existing infrastructure as well as the construction of new facilities. RINA is supporting the project with a large multidisciplinary team, including experts and engineers in wastewater treatment plants, hydraulics, urban planning, public health, economics, electromechanics, structural engineering, wastewater and sludge re-use, and biogas. The project reflects the breadth of expertise offered by RINA and its ability to manage large, complex projects.