Sweden’s railway maintenance expenditure rose from just over 200 million Euros to almost 600 million Euros within a 10 year period. Most other European countries have a similar trend. Switzerland is currently spending over 850 million Euros on railway maintenance. One of the reasons why railway maintenance costs are increasing across Europe at such a fast rate is because rail infrastructure is aging and being put under additional pressure by increasing traffic volume, heavier axle loads and higher speed trains. Railway bridges are subjected to intense vibration and great dynamic stress.
Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor technology can help monitor railway bridges, providing a more detailed and timely picture of the health of bridge infrastructure. Accurate monitoring on structural behaviour, environmental ambient conditions, functional ability of bridge bearing and expansion joints and other structural members can assist maintenance assessments and improve maintenance procedures and planning.
Our project brings together leaders in IoT and wireless technologies and experts in bridge monitoring. Together we will develop a complete wireless sensor solution for bridge monitoring which can be used by national road/transport authorities or other end users.
The advantages of such a solution include, but are not limited to:
• Reducing the number of field visits bridge engineers have to do
• Helping maintenance personnel focus their resources on critical situations
• Providing new insights to improving safety and thereby avoiding emergency maintenance situations in the long term.
The solutions we are developing are targeting bridge monitoring in general, but the specific use cases of the project will be railway bridge monitoring. Examples of tangible cost saving opportunities in railway bridge monitoring, due to use of wireless sensors, are:
• Bridges where the traffic load is low need not to be visited as often as before
• Damages can be surveyed remotely and inspections can be targeted to the development of damages
• Bridges where the traffic load is high can be subjected to on-going, targeted maintenance to avoid costly emergency repairs and related delays in service or re-rerouting of traffic
• Statistics on the condition of the bridge can be used to create repair plans and help the transport administrations in planning their maintenance budgets.
The project result will be a bridge monitoring platform consisting of hardware and software, and which will be exploited by two innovative SMEs which are experts in bridge monitoring solutions.