Much of the world’s bridges are old and need to be periodically repaired or replaced. Yet, premature replacement wastes money and non-renewable resources. BridgeMon was led by four SMEs (Small and Medium Size Enterprises) from Slovenia, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland who, with the help of research providers from Ireland and Slovenia, were working to extend the lives of existing bridges. They were developing bridge monitoring technologies to prove they are safe and can be kept in service for longer, thus ensuring more sustainable road asset management.
A bridge is safe when the stresses due to traffic load are less than its resistance to that load. Bridge monitoring is gathering information about both sides of this inequality, traffic load and bridge resistance.
The BridgeMon SMEs cover both. The consortium was led by Cestel, a world leader in Bridge Weigh-in-Motion (WIM). Cestel has partnered with three SMEs that specialise in weigh-in-motion and in monitoring the resistance of bridges to load, one for the road sector and one for the railway sector.
In the area or bridge weigh-in-motion measurements the ambition of BridgeMon was to achieve step increase in accuracy of these systems, by developing and applying new and improved measurement and analytical techniques, such as automated calculation of influence lines, auto-calibrations, Moving Force Identification (MFI), Tikhonov regularization, etc.. These improvements shall increase the accuracy of the truck weight data for at least one accuracy class according to the COST 323 specifications for weigh-in-motion (http://wim.zag.si/reports/specifications/WIM_specs.pdf).
In the area of structural health monitoring BridgMon was developing and implementing tools for improved bridges assessment, including modules to evaluate fatigue life of steel bridges and structural health of railway bridges, both combined with Bridge WIM (traffic loading).
The new technologies will give the SMEs Unique Selling Points in the bridge resistance monitoring markets. The result gives a potential for massive growth in these SMEs in the coming 5 years, in both turnover and employment.
In summary, to objectives of BridgeMon project were to develop:
- a method of using an existing bridge to weigh vehicles in motion with Class A accuracy
- a novel method of monitoring steel road bridges, susceptible to fatigue damage
- an accurate and cost-effective method of weighing trains in motion
- an improved method of SH monitoring of railway bridges