Bridge monitoring: What is at stake?

Monitoring can be a powerful tool both during bridge construction and during the operations phase, to support decision-making of bridge owners, concessionaires, operators and consultants, as well as contractors.

Data derived from monitoring can form the basis to:

  • plan maintenance and repair interventions;
  • update and calibrate performance-based design models for lifecycle analysis; and
  • detect unexpected sudden failure or gradual deterioration, thereby reducing financial impact of unplanned repairs and managing user safety.

Monitoring is complementary to inspections. It allows the capturing of data over extended periods of time. This can include:

  • environmental data;
  • structural response to loading;
  • number of fatigue cycles; and
  • corrosion activity and many other parameters.

Capturing the right data and understanding its relevancy is essential to draw value from structural bridge monitoring. The focus needs to be on instrumenting specific critical components, rather than deploying a huge amount of sensors: the aim is to keep costs for system installation and maintenance under control. In parallel, exploiting weak data can allow for other purposes, such as traffic or maintenance management.

Rendering data exploitable and applying engineering judgment on obtained results are key to permit engineers to take objective decisions, and to develop targeted action plans to ensure the serviceability, safety and durability of the structure.

How VSL can help you

VSL is a bridge specialist and has in-house capabilities to propose, design, implement and maintain Structural Health Monitoring Systems (SHMS) specific to small, medium and long span bridges. We deliver SHMS based on:

  • streamlined sensor lay-outs;
  • state-of-the-art sensors;
  • fit-for-purpose data acquisition systems, both wired and wireless;
  • a structured approach to data acquisition and processing to extract actual engineering parameters; and
  • local and continued support.

VSL is able to match what is technically feasible with what adds true value from an engineering standpoint, by capitating on two strengths:

  • an unmatched knowledge and experience in the design, manufacturing, installation, maintenance and repair of critical bridge components such as cable stays, bearings, expansion joints, post-tensioning tendons and dampers
  • an in-depth understanding of the local conditions all-over the world.

VSL fosters long-term relationships with its clients in order to make use of monitoring data to constantly improve its systems and solutions.

What are the VSL bridge monitoring solutions?

  1. Fully integrated instrumentation of VSL or third-party components, including post-tensioning systems, cable stays, bearings and dampers:
    • Load cells for direct force measurement on stay cables and post-tensioning tendons and ground anchors
    • Accelerometers to derive stay cable forces by vibratory analysis (VSL Vibratest) and establish fatigue cycle counts and damping characteristics
    • Displacement sensors to measure bearing and expansion joint movements
    • Pressure transducers to measure forces in pot bearings
    • Distributed sensor networks to measure structural deformations and cracking
    • VSL VCsensors to control the passivating environment in grouted post-tensioning tendons
    • EIT measurements to verify the integrity of the encapsulation of post-tensioning tendons and ground anchors
    • Acoustic emission sensing to detect wire breaks in post-tensioning tendons, bridge hangers, stay cables and suspension cables
  2. A turnkey service for SHMS implementation tailored to the needs of the client, including:
    • Design and engineering services for SHMS definition and integration
    • Supply and installation of monitoring hardware and software
    • Data collection, analysis and comprehensive reports,
    • Recommendations, support and action plans
    • Maintenance of SHMS systems

VSL makes use of in-house developed monitoring systems as well as technology partnerships with third parties in order to deliver the best solution for your project.

    Do you have a project in mind?

    Get in touch now!

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