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SHM Next | Detect and predict damage in bridge structures

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Acoustic sensors detect defects early on

The bridge disaster in Genoa in August 2018 and the forced closure of our country’s Merwede Bridge to freight traffic in 2016 are just two examples that show how important it is to detect cracks or other defects in bridges and viaducts at an early stage. In recent years, TNO has developed methods and technologies with companies and the Rijkswaterstaat (Department of Public Works and Water Management) to make this possible. The spin-off SHM Next will soon bring this patented solution to the market.

Predicting maintenance

SHM stands for Structural Health Monitoring: with special wireless acoustic sensors from SHM Next, it’s possible to monitor the state of the construction and detect the slightest cracks long before they become critical. The method has proven itself on the Van Brienenoord Bridge in Rotterdam and the Kruithuis Bridge in Delft. SHM can be applied to any conceivable construction made of steel, concrete, wood or combinations thereof. The sensor measurements are calculated to predict if and when maintenance or renovation is needed to ensure safe operation.

Sharp cost reduction

Through careful monitoring, not only can accidents be prevented, but road authorities can also save a lot of money on maintenance and the societal costs of traffic issues. Traditional inspections and maintenance are expensive, cumbersome and sometimes come too late. SHM Next can predict exactly when maintenance will be needed, which means that costs can be reduced by more than fifty percent. This method is both accurate, straightforward to install and easily scalable.

Ultrasonic sound

At critical points in the bridge, such as where there are heavy traffic loads, SHM Next installs a set of wireless sensor nodes. These special electronic ‘ears’ continuously listen to ultrasonic sounds in the construction and can use them to deduce a defect. They cover an area of up to 50 m2. The sensors send the detailed, calculated information to a data management system online. Employees of the road authority can consult the data via computer, tablet or smartphone and see to the nearest centimeter what is wrong or threatens to go wrong and at which point.
Customers who wish to switch from traditional inspections to this predictive maintenance method do not need to purchase any equipment themselves. They simply pay for the information measured over a period of time per square meter of the monitored area of a construction.

For information on inspecting bridges and viaducts, visit the SHMnext website

SHMnext

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