From Frequent Overhauling to Smart Road Health Care

From Frequent Overhauling to Smart Road Health Care
Since the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, the first bridge on the Yangtze River for thousands of miles, Hubei has formed an indissoluble bond with the bridge.
According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 1.1 million bridges in the country, and about 30% of them have entered the maintenance period.
As more and more bridges are built, how to maintain them scientifically and prolong their service life has become an unavoidable problem.
A bridge can range from a few hundred million yuan to nearly 100 billion yuan. From the installation of sensors in the initial stage of bridge construction, long-term digital monitoring during maintenance, and targeted maintenance of the bridge body, not only can save a lot of maintenance costs, but also create huge economic value.
How to maintain a healthy operation of a bridge that costs a lot of money to build?
In traditional thinking, treatment and maintenance will be carried out only when the bridge has shown signs of disease. This approach often results in road closures and other effects, and the disease will continue to show.
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There are a large number of highway and railway bridges in my country, but there are many dangerous highway bridges and poor durability, bridge accidents occur frequently, potential safety and durability problems are prominent, the average bridge age is not long, the actual service life of accident bridges is short, and maintenance pressure increasing day by day.
The traditional management and maintenance methods characterized by manual inspection, empirical decision-making, and corrective maintenance are increasingly unable to meet the maintenance needs of modern bridges for quality improvement, efficiency increase, and cost reduction.
Therefore, there is an increasingly urgent need to promote the technological transformation and industrial model transformation of the transportation infrastructure health care industry. In the industry, the China Railway Bridge Engineering Institute proposed the concept of full life cycle maintenance and health monitoring.
In 2012, it was approved as the “Key Laboratory of Bridge Structural Health and Safety in Hubei Province”, and in 2015, it successfully applied for the “State Key Laboratory of Bridge Structural Health and Safety” and was approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology.


A large number of bridges and tunnels realize “smart health care” ·
In the past, daily inspections and regular inspections generally relied on technicians climbing up bridge piers, cables and other parts to collect and record data, which was inefficient and high in safety risks.
Now, inspectors only need a smart phone or drone aerial photography to complete data collection and upload.
“All the data templates of bridge health have been entered into the system.” An engineer from the Health Monitoring Center of China Railway Bridge Research Institute introduced that inspectors only need to simply check in the small program to manage the health status of the bridge.
For parts that are difficult to detect such as bridge cables and beam bottoms, various intelligent devices such as inspection drones, cable robots, and underwater robots have been innovatively developed and applied, and more than 1,600 bridges have been intelligently managed and maintained.


The newly built bridge has been implanted with sensors inside the bridge since the construction stage. The sensors are connected to the background service system, which can monitor the bridge’s vibration, deformation, vehicle load, wind load and other health indicators in real time. The service system has set up a three-level index alarm. Once there is a problem with the health of the bridge, the system will alarm. The smart management and maintenance platform for urban bridges and tunnels in Wuhan has been built, realizing the integrated application of smart health care for more than 800 urban bridges and tunnels in Wuhan.
Among them, the cable detection robot and the background monitoring system are the most difficult problems, which have been mastered by Germany, Russia and other countries for a long time.
At present, the self-developed “Explorer” bridge cable detection robot has been upgraded to the sixth generation. Compared with its “predecessors”, its energy-raising is all-round: the “body” is replaced by high-strength carbon fiber components; the “eyes” use the most advanced CCD technology and industrial camera lenses, which can “see clearly” even in high-speed crawling Millimeter-level cracks; the electromagnetic flaw detection non-destructive testing system installed in the “body” has increased the sensitivity to the corrosion of the steel wire inside the cable by 10 times. After timely intervention in the early stage, many bridge diseases will be avoided or can be repaired in time to ensure bridge safety.
·Monitoring + early warning: Effectively solve multiple problems·
On the afternoon of May 24, 2015, an ultra-high and ultra-wide vehicle passed a certain Yangtze River Bridge (steel box girder cable-stayed bridge) and scraped against 13 cable-stayed cables upstream. The system keenly captured the special signal of the cable-stayed collision process, and issued an alarm, which triggered the emergency work of the management unit in time, so that the structural damage could be controlled in time, and the expansion of the situation and adverse social impacts were avoided. Finally, through rapid monitoring data analysis, the assessment results that the cable body and the bridge as a whole are still in a healthy state were obtained, which provided a scientific basis for the owner to make further decisions, and saved 2.6 million yuan in cable replacement costs and related indirect costs.
In 2018, the bridge deck was renovated and upgraded for Wuhan Junshan Yangtze River Bridge, and the self-developed ultra-high performance concrete was applied, which effectively solved the worldwide problem that the orthogonal special-shaped steel bridge deck is easy to crack.
In August 2018, the monitoring data of an overpass ramp bridge on the third ring road in a certain city showed that the support had a serious lateral displacement, and the system issued an alarm and notified the technicians for on-site inspection. Based on the temperature monitoring data, the technicians analyzed the reason for the defect in the boundary constraints of the structural support, which caused the beam end to deform beyond the limit in the high temperature environment, and promptly called the police and dealt with it in time, avoiding a safety accident.
In April 2020, a small amount of abnormal vibration occurred on a Yangtze River Bridge, which attracted the attention of social groups. The monitoring system of the bridge immediately issued an alarm and recorded the real-time images at that time. According to the external environment and bridge response data at that time, it can be effectively judged This abnormal vibration was found to be a vortex induced vibration event. The data collected by the system not only provides a basis for judging the cause of the incident, but also provides a reliable basis for evaluating the health status of the bridge and making further disposal decisions afterwards, avoiding more economic losses and adverse effects. Numerous cases have shown that the health monitoring system can give early warning in time, pay attention to “hidden dangers that we usually cannot see”, and provide efficient and powerful technical support for bridge managers.
Experts believe that this technology can provide technical services for the entire industrial chain of transportation infrastructure management and maintenance, and promote the development of the transportation infrastructure management and maintenance industry in the direction of green environmental protection and resource conservation; prolong the service life of transportation infrastructure and improve the level of health care of transportation infrastructure and efficiency, reducing the cost of transportation infrastructure health care; effectively improving the operational safety of structures, greatly reducing major traffic safety accidents caused by damage to structures; driving maintenance management, structural state restoration, maintenance and reinforcement, etc. Aftermarket of transportation infrastructure And the further development of the post-industrial chain.


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