Structural Health Monitoring of Bridges – Solutions and Services

Geotechnical Monitoring is used to detect problems and threats in structures, bridges, railways, walls, mines, tunnels, and every other kind of construction. An important part of civil engineering, geotechnical monitoring is used to prevent mishaps and accidents, thereby saving a lot of lives, money, and time. Since we are talking specifically about bridges today, this comes under structural monitoring.


What is Structural Monitoring?

structural monitoring

Structural monitoring is a process of executing a damage detection and characterization strategy for engineering structures such as bridges, buildings, etc.

This takes place in the form of installing sensors that notify the required person of a change. It includes observing the system over time, using the data from an array of sensors to determine damage-sensitive features, and analyzing them to calculate the current health of the structure and if it needs any change/construction. This is done pre and post-construction, and even to ancient structures, ensuring that every structure is as solid as it can be.

In this article, we will be focusing mainly on Bridges and Encardio Rite’s solutions and services.


Structural Monitoring – Bridges

With the ever-growing number of cars and population, we have seen a growth in bridges. India is a land with a large number of rail and road bridges that prove to be an important component of the transportation network. The damage or collapse of a bridge leads to a pause in the transportation system which disrupts the smooth function, and there is the fear of loss of life and property.

When it comes to railway bridges, they have a documented and systematic manner in which they are checked and maintained. The IBMS (Indian Bridge Management System) carries out conditional surveys and monitors all bridges on the National Highway. With the growing number of bridges, safety becomes a paramount consideration.

Bridges represent a major investment for society, and the safety levels are expected to be higher than in other parts of transport as the failure of the bridge has grim consequences for material and human life. For this reason, bridge monitoring is an essential and integral part of having a well-functioning structure.

With the help of modern technological capabilities, we can make use of bridge vibrating data which gives a near real-time assessment of the bridge condition. The vibration measurements that are obtained can be used to determine the behavior of the superstructure, soil, dampers, bearings, and other bridge components. As they interact under actual operation conditions, it becomes easier to evaluate the characteristics of bridges, estimate the mechanism activated under the vibration levels, and then decide whether to confirm or change the modeling procedures.


Bridge Monitoring – Solutions

Encardio Rite is a renowned company that provides services for bridge health monitoring as well as instruments for monitoring procedures. The bridge monitoring system can be used for implementing the changes that are needed during the construction age. They are also used to protect the surrounding structures which can be affected due to construction.

Encardio Rite makes use of comprehensive web-based monitoring solutions for the long-term safety monitoring of bridges. As a manufacturer of sensors, the instruments work with complete reliability with a proven track record and long-term performance even under harsh conditions.

Encardio Rite provides a variety of instruments that measure different parameters affecting bridge structure which are as follows:

  • Strain Gauges, Pressure Cells, and Vibrating Wire Crack Meters are some of the vibrating wire instruments that are used to measure displacement and strain.
  • Encardio Rite also makes use of MEMS technology-based sensors to measure tilt/inclination which includes beam sensors, tilt meters, and inclinometers. It also makes sure of other instruments to proceed with the continuous online monitoring of the bridges.
  • Load cells are used for the measurement of force.
  • Vibration monitoring to measure acceleration

Before a building or a bridge collapses, it gives a warning in the form of a tilt change and many other changes. This happens in the affected area and is indicative of the structure’s health. The above-mentioned geotechnical instruments are an effective way of monitoring bridges online and working on the performance issue before it leads to anything dangerous. As soon as you get the warning, you can inform the required authority, the owner, designer, architect, or contractor to fix the issues.

We usually see performance issues in structures that are getting old, or due to undue settlement due to soil conditions, vibration due to traffic, and also nearby construction activities. This is reflected in the tilt and settlement values and data, which can be picked up from the sensors installed.

Encardio Rite systems provide remote, unattended, and portable monitoring for bridges. The advanced sensor technology makes automated real-time bridge health monitoring possible with the help of data loggers that can transmit data over longer distances.

Read more: A Guide on Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)


Structural Monitoring – Online Cloud-based Web Data Monitoring Service

Encardio Rite offers public cloud-based online web data monitoring services for the safety of existing rail and road bridges. As an important part of the Bridge Management System, the online structural monitoring instrumentation system is a web data monitoring service (WDMS). WDMS is a web-based data management and presentation tool that is used to receive data from the sensors with the help of the data loggers.

It consists of Drishti, a data management software developed by Encardio Rite. The software acts as a data collection agent, a database server, and a web server hosted on a high-reliable server computer. The host computer, once set up, receives the data from the remote data loggers, with the help of cell phone networks. You can use your internet to interact with the software. However, there is one requirement for this entire process to work. Make sure the site where the data logger is placed receives a good GSM/GPRS-enabled cellular data connection locally.

The software can be used at different locations and among multiple users with the help of an assigned password. You can use it to view graphs or reports simultaneously.

You can have a look at the details like sensor identification tag, last recorded sensor reading, and values of programmed alert levels, on the first page of the website. You can also view the exact location of the logger, and once the threat level increases, the sensor location turns to a red dot. The site also contained a pop-up that can be accessed to view the sensor data as a graph or as a table.

With WDMS, you can truly remotely monitor the bridges. The software allows you to set alarm limits, also known as “alert level” and “evacuate level”. You can also program it to send an alert SMS message or email to the selected users if the sensor data crosses its predefined alarm levels, either while going above or below the alarm level.

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