Let’s see examples of Structural Health in the world.
Structural health monitoring has the potential to completely change the way we manage the built environment. Encompassing everything from schools and hospitals to office buildings and tunnels, the built environment needs to be properly maintained to ensure safety and reduce costs. Structural health monitoring provides a way to achieve both objectives by harnessing the Internet of Things. It involves the addition of dynamic wireless sensors within structures, enabling engineers to monitor aspects of their health in real-time. In theory, this provides an unprecedented degree of awareness for city authorities and private companies, allowing them to allocated resources and prevent damage before it results in financial and human costs. So how is SHM being implemented in real world scenarios, and is it really changing the way we run cities?
Using Structural Health Monitoring to Ensure Health Bridges.
River crossings are inherently vulnerable structures. As recent incidents like the Genoa bridge collapse have shown, weaknesses within these structures can cause concrete to crack, leading over time to catastrophic consequences. However, structural health monitoring offers a viable solu-tion. For instance, the Sandia National Laboratories and Structural Monitoring Systems partnered in the US Midwest to implant eight separate IoT sensors in the metalwork of a bridge identified as at risk.
These sensors are absolutely tiny, and take the form of Teflon vacuum pumps. If a crack appears in the metal un-derneath them, this prevents the sensor establishing a vacuum, causing the alarm to trigger. This informs engineers that the structure of the bridge may be at risk well before cracks become visible to the naked eye.
Moreover, the sensors are placed in locations 100 feet above the road deck - the kind of place that engineers often struggle to access. With lithium-ion battery pow-ered sensors in place, they can obtain even better analyti-cal results without needing to ascend to assess the bridge’s metalwork.
This is just one among many examples of how bridge maintenance is being enhanced by structural health mon-itoring. Many more projects are operating or under construction, such as the Queensferry crossing in Scotland, which will include more than 2,000 wireless sensors.
From pylons and foundation stability to how elevated decks perform under high traffic loads or high winds, IoT sensing is set to transform how we manage bridge safety, but it also has many other potential applications.
Making Smart Cities safer.
As Internet of Things technology develops and becomes mainstream, cities all across the world are becom-ing “smarter”. Sensors are being deployed to monitor crime, traffic, economic factors, water and energy con-sumption. But they are also being used in sophisticated building monitoring systems.
Portland offers a great example of how this works in prac-tice. The Oregon city has embraced smart technology and is working with AT&T to implement potentially revo-lutionary new monitoring tools. This includes an array of LTE (Long-Term Evolution) sensors which use wireless tech to monitor the structural integrity of key buildings. These sensors should allow city engineers to measure the tilt of high-rise buildings, and to detect cracks as they develop. Thanks to trigger alerts, they can also set events to allocate resources when maintenance is urgent.
Portland’s experiment is at an early stage, but their initia-tive is being emulated by forward-thinking urban gov-ernments and companies across the world. The reasons are easy to understand. Aside from promoting safer cities and preventing accidents, smart sensors make it possible to manage precious public funds more efficiently. Instead of routine maintenance which may not be required, work can be targeted at vulnerabilities as they occur. And there may also be productivity improvements for city engineers.
Find a SHM soliution for your needs.
At NEXT Industries, we are skilled in unlocking the poten-tial of the internet of things. If you are involved in the construction or management of critical structures and want to investigate the benefits of structural health monitoring, we will be happy to discuss what this technology can deliver. Just visit the application pages of our website and get in touch to discover what smart structural management can do for you.