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October 5 - October 9, 2020

Some painting specifications call for the use of “Best Effort” in relation to blasting. How does one determine “Best Effort?”

Selected Answers

From Per Gabrielsson of Free Lance Consultations and Inspections on October 13, 2020:
In Korea the saying goes: we will try to do our best, and then you know nothing will happen!

From Chris Lucy of chemquest technology institute on October 13, 2020:
"Best Effort" is slang for not taking ownership of an outcome. The term should never be used in a specification.

From Wayne Senick of Termarust Technologies on October 12, 2020:
We agree with Mr. Marco that these type of areas on the structures require special attention from corrosion specialists. The engineer’s primary intention for using the term “best efforts” is his (hope) a desire to stop corrosion hotspots in ALL areas – including those where access is limited – areas like steel to steel interfaces (crevice corrosion), steel to concrete interfaces, bearing plates, pin connectors, or any other steel surfaces where cleaning becomes a “best effort” attempt to clean the surface properly hope to stop the chemically active corrosion cell. Unfortunately, many engineers are bound to prescribed specifications which are so firmly entrenched in their workflows that the WHY of surface preparation can get lost in translation. (best efforts) In these days of limited budgets, more and more governments are now reverting to OUTCOME BASED specifications which ultimately outsources the responsibility of providing field proven, long-term solutions to 3rd party consulting firms working with innovative contractors and product manufacturer’s who, through their own market research and experience know that the only way to stop hidden corrosion is by approaching the problem using different surface preparation methods and chemically active corrosion control solutions.

From James Svoboda of Abhe & Svoboda, inc. on October 9, 2020:
I can see why so many specifiers would disagree with using the term “best effort” area in a specification, but the reality is its an important concept in the world of blasting and painting complex field structures. Perhaps the term “reasonable effort” should be employed instead but that is just an argument of semantics and would likely garner the same response(s) from critics. The fact of the matter is there’s a lot of subjectivity when it comes to creating the specifications, performing the work and performing the inspection duties on these complex projects. What it comes down to is what the owner needs and expects from the project and what they are willing to pay to get it. I don’t believe there is another industry out there with as much subjectivity built into the projects as the industrial coatings industry. I think that if you were to ask any painting contractor who routinely performs work on complex bridges whether they anticipate there will be inaccessible areas that will require “best effort” consideration I believe 100 percent of them will say they believe that to be the case. Judging by the prices I have been seeing out there lately, I am sure they will also bid accordingly. A specifier who would like to remove any consideration of best effort areas from a specification cannot do that by simply eliminating the language from the specification. In order to truly create bid documents that will result in proposals being submitted by contractors that are completely void of reasonable effort or best effort area consideration, the specifier will have to document all potential areas of concern and show photos of each and explain that each of these areas will be expected to have 100 percent of the paint and mill scale removed and less than 5 percent staining, etc. I believe that in doing so the contract price would be driven to a point that the owner would not be able to afford the paint job or they would have to forego other construction projects in order to make it happen. The specifier and owner would then need to sit down and determine whether the additional cost would bring any additional value to the owner. I have seen instances on a bridge painting project where a single containment has 45,000 square feet and the contractor spent in excess of 50% of his total effort of abrasive blasting to complete roughly 5,500 square feet within that containment due to its complexity and inaccessibility. That contractor had to create abrasive blasting equipment that is not commercially available in order to access these areas and actually had to employ people who were much smaller than average in order to get inside these structures and perform the work. Millions of dollars were spent performing this work and it likely brought no long-term value to the owner. Inaccessible areas need to be addressed on every project and they need to be looked at reasonably. This will protect the owner from experiencing extremely high maintenance costs and it will prevent contractors from bearing unnecessary burden while completing projects. No matter what a specifier wants to see on a project it can be done. There are so many qualified contractors and extremely competent workers out there who live for performing this kind of work. But…Does the owner have enough time and money to make it happen? Also, will the additional effort and cost provide an end product that is worth the additional time and cost to the owner? Those are the questions that specifiers should be asking…..not whether “best effort” is an appropriate term to be used in a specification.

From Erik Andreassen of TLC Modular on October 8, 2020:
I endorse what others have written regarding certain statements from the uneducated. Why in this day and age do specifiers still use the term, "Sandblasting" It's know to be banned almost everywhere because of silicosis etc, so why do we not specify the blasting media for the substrate to be prepared,? Best effort is not a language know to people within our professional industry.

From Tom Schwerdt of TxDOT on October 7, 2020:
Typically, seeing "Best Effort" in a contract only determines that the specification or plan notes were written up by a a poor and/or inexperienced specifier in need of training. "Best Effort" is not a phrase which should be used in a painting contract - because it is rarely enforceable in any meaningful way. I ran into this one time when a consultant specifier had been hired by another office to write up the project plan notes. Specifier declared the inside of box beams to be "Best Effort" rather than following our surface preparation specifications, which were quite clear. Specifier also threw up their hands and didn't calculate the surface area for box beams, despite nominally being a PE. Fortunately, this turned out to be one of those "rare occasions" due to my experience inspecting numerous other bridge painting projects in Texas. The contractor had regularly performed the same work to our normal specifications on other, extremely similar bridges - both the site supervisor and I were well aware of what he was capable of, even if the consultant was clueless. I was able to tell the contractor that I was well aware of the "best effort" they were capable of, so I expected SP10 like the rest of the steel. Despite needling me a bit over the language when I came to the jobsite, the contractor went ahead and did the job right, preparing the inside of the boxes to SP10. Without an experienced inspector and a reasonable contractor, this bad contracting language could have caused the project to turn out quite differently and compromised the service life of the paint system - or just been cancelled, re-written and re-bid, significantly delaying the project and adding significantly to the cost.

From Neil Pittman of Lake Superior Consulting on October 6, 2020:
There is no quantitative way to measure "best effort." Therefore, this is not a term that should be used in a blasting specification. Use a standards based cleanliness and anchor profile requirement (i.e. "blast to NACE #2 Near White Metal with a 2.5 mil profile as measured by ASTM D4417 Method C). Then specify the frequency of measurement for the cleanliness and anchor profile. Also, direct which revision of standards are to be used. Finally, it can be helpful to direct the blaster/applicator to provide an Inspection and Test Plan (ITP) to ensure that they completely understand the requirements of the specification.

From Steven Philipp of Coatings Unlimited Inc on October 6, 2020:
The surface preparation standards do not leave any room for poorly designed or inaccessible surfaces which creates a lot of problems and confusion in the field. More concise language needs to be added and inspectors need to put in perspective the percentage of the overall square footage affected.

From Jaime Marcos of Profesional independiente on October 5, 2020:
A Specification must be complete, clear and concise, it cannot leave anything to the discretion of the Applicator. The term "Best Effort" in a Specification is not valid, and less so for the most important operation, which is surface preparation. In special cases, the approval of alternatives should be left to a specialist in anticorrosive treatments.

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Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Blasting; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Surface Preparation

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