Danish know-how ensures the health of ageing European infrastructure
With sensors and meticulous algorithms at the core, a new Italian digital initiative will enhance the security and lifespan of bridges in Italy and Europe. The project draws on more than 20 years of engineering expertise from the Storebælt Bridge in Denmark.
The Italian technology company, Sacertis, has signed a development collaboration with Sund & Bælt – a Danish infrastructure operator with substantial experience of building and maintaining some of the world’s largest bridge and tunnel links. Together, Sacertis and Sund & Bælt have created CEA, Civil Engineering Assistant – engineering software that is able to monitor over 400 bridges in Italy with intelligent sensors to ensure best practice for maintenance. And most important of all: CEA will send out an alert before any critical developments arise.
“In the western world, infrastructure was largely built around the first half of the 20th century and is now reaching the end of the service life for which it was conceived and designed,”Giuseppe Mancini, Technical Director, Sacertis, and Honorary President of the FIB International Federation for Structural Concrete and 2018 Freyssinet medalist.
“A scientific-based assessment is needed to support engineers in their assessment work,” he adds. “On the one hand, to assess risk objectively and on the other, for maintenance and to prolong lifespan.”Giuseppe Mancini, Technical Director, Sacertis, and Honorary President of the FIB International Federation for Structural Concrete and 2018 Freyssinet medalist.
At the core of the solution lies solid Danish know-how of bridge and tunnel operations and maintenance. Denmark is known for its high standards and quality, and the collaboration provides Sund & Bælt with the opportunity to put 20 years of extensive knowledge to good use:
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to share our expertise on bridge maintenance, and to demonstrate how digital technologies can be used to work smarter and safer. This initiative enables our know-how to contribute on a global scale and to meet the increasing need for better monitoring and enhanced maintenance,”Bjarne Jørgensen, Director, Operations and Asset Management, Sund & Bælt.
From risk evaluation to renewed youth
The solution is already being deployed. Every week sensors are installed in two more motorway bridges in the Italian road network. The actual tool, however, is the CEA application: a piece of monitoring software, which can convert data from the sensors into a visual overview in real time and prompt action when required.
By combining their expertise with scientists and engineers at IBM Watson IoT and IBM Research, Sund & Baelt and Sacertis have developed the ability to deliver transformational improvements to both uptime and maintenance costs. Rather than simply responding at an early stage to a bridge in a state of disrepair, the focus has now shifted to ensuring ongoing maintenance. This prevents dangerous situations from arising and also extends the lifetime of the structure.
“This is where it really gets interesting. Our own Storebælt Bridge has been built for a lifetime of 100 years, but with the right use of data and digital solutions we expect to increase the bridge’s lifespan by 50-100 years,”Bjarne Jørgensen, Director, Operations and Asset Management, Sund & Bælt.
Initially, the solution will monitor the condition of the Italian bridges. In time, however, it will be made available to infrastructure throughout Europe and subsequently on a global scale.
- The new digital monitoring solution is known as CEA – Civil Engineering Assistant – and will, as the name suggests, support engineers in assessing the condition of bridges, tunnels and the like. It translates sensor data into structural parameters and diagnoses the status of a structure in real time.
- In the spring, Sund & Bælt announced a digital collaboration with IBM on the development of an advanced Internet of Things-based system for targeted operation and maintenance – Maximo for Civil Infrastructure. The new CEA app is designed to communicate with Maximo, thus maximising the use of both tools.
- The tool will support new and improved road safety regulations that are being drawn up in the EU and which will apply to all motorways and other primary roads in the EU.
- Sund & Bælt is a Danish infrastructure operator owned by the State of Denmark. It has been tasked with the management of the Øresund Bridge, the Storebælt Bridge (one of the world’s longest suspension bridges) and the 18 km immersed Fehmarnbelt tunnel which is under construction. When the tunnel opens, it will be the world’s longest road and rail tunnel of its type.
- Sacertis is a new industrial initiative created by a group of world renowned professionals to diagnose in real time the status of any civil engineering structure. To this end, Sacertis has succeeded in enhancing engineering know-how by combining data science, advanced maths, electronics and sensor technology to enable its structural engineers to assess the residual safety margin of a structure based on sound data and proven scientific methodology.
For further information
Sund & Bælt. Director Bjarne Jørgensen at email@example.com or mobile phone: +45 29 44 72 40