We rely on healthcare professionals to assess our physical condition with every visit. In most cases, it’s because we’re experiencing symptoms of a potentially larger issue, and because most issues lie under the surface, our doctors rely on instruments and specialized tests to determine a course of action to make us well.
At TYLin, we look at the structural integrity of structures the same way. We’ve known the benefits of proactively monitoring the structural integrity of bridges and structures for as long as we’ve been constructing them. Designers and engineers would physically inspect and test them to detect, measure, and maintain any deficiencies – a process that often took too much time, effort, and cost to perform at regular intervals.
Our diagnostic tools were insufficient for the task. Our industry was too far behind the curve and current in-market systems did not match the needs of our clients. An ailment left untreated could result in larger problems down the road. With active, real-time monitoring, we could effectively diagnose the symptoms, better understand the behavior of the structure, identify issues, provide vital data for model calibrations and repair design, and help verify the adequacy of the repairs.
That’s when National Bridge Rehabilitation Practice Lead Atiq Alvi and Senior Bridge Engineer Ivan Gualtero proposed a solution: real-time structural health monitoring that can be conducted from the comfort of the office (or home office, as the case may be).
Ivan, as the technical lead of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Continuing Services Contract (5-year/$5M), began experimenting with different technologies to monitor different parameters in this bridge about two years ago. Often referred to as “Florida’s flagship bridge.” The signature cable-stayed bridge is 4.1 miles long, with over 50,000 vehicles crossing daily between St. Petersburg and Terra Ceia, over the waters of Tampa Bay.
All sensors in this project have been designed, developed and built in-house, specifically to address the unique needs of this bridge. Currently 33 customized sensors to measure different aspects of the bridge, including expansion joints, acceleration, cable tension, acoustics, stay cable damper performance, moisture levels, and deflection have been installed and many more sensors are planned for the near future.
Inputting this data into the digital twin, using 3D finite element modeling (FEM), Ivan and the team could adjust any variables to predict their effect and verify them against real-world results. In direct response to client needs, our teams could collect, process, and report to the client information that was previously unknown, taking measurements from within the concrete, and making recommendations for action. The results could be compiled, shared, and updated with relative ease.
And this system is widely applicable for structures the world over because it is cost effective, portable, and provides reliable data. It allows us to learn more about the effects of weather, climate, and materials on the built environment. With each new build and restoration, we make our designs more responsive to client needs and more resilient against the elements.
Contact TYLin to actively monitor the structural health of your next project.
Atiq has more than 30 years of experience in the field of bridge engineering. He is an expert in bridge design, analysis, inspection, preservation, repair, rehabilitation, management, and maintenance.
With two decades of experience in bridge engineering, Ivan has a strong reputation for providing quick response to unique challenges. He is adept in the design of complex bridge structures requiring refined analysis and evaluations.