New technology has come to light as the Victorian Government work towards partnering with Xerox.
They will remotely monitor bridges (and eventually other infrastructure) in order to minimise road closures and keep trains moving.
The Preston level crossing removal project is an example of where this sort of new technology can come into play. This project involves the removal of four level crossings, 2km of elevated rail is being built and new stations built at Bell and Preston.
These updates will see the rail line being raised over four roads on the Mernda line, delivering new open space underneath the two-kilometre rail bridge. In turn, the 82,000 vehicles that pass through these level crossings each day will have a smoother and safer journey.
To preserve and ensure the longevity of investments in infrastructure the government will establish a joint venture with leading US technology company Xerox. They are to develop a new technology that will remotely monitor bridges, such as the future bridge at Preston to better manage their maintenance.
The technology is the result of trials carried out through a partnership between VicTrack and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which developed sensors that can be used to monitor structural health in bridges. The Government are committed to investing $50 million to roll out the new technology on priority bridges across Victoria, pending successful trials of course.
“This technology being rolled out on priority bridges enables remote real-time monitoring – meaning a small problem could be identified before it becomes a big costly problem that causes unnecessary delays to Victorians.”
“This will help to detect problems earlier, reduce delays caused by road closures for manual inspections and repairs, and help to find problems more quickly and accurately in the case of bridge strikes or other unexpected events,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.
Eloque, a new commercial company, will manage this rollout and rapidly expand to help customers around the world. Their technology uses tiny fibre optic connected sensors attached to the bridge to accurately measure and estimate structural strain, thermal response, bending, loads, vibration, and corrosion, which are all measures of structural health.
This new technology collects data from the sensors, the data is then analysed using advanced systems to deliver information directly to the bridge owners and operators remotely via an interactive dashboard. The bridge manager can monitor any feedback in real-time to determine any structural issues or has damages that need repair.
It enables any problems to be detected that are not visible to the naked eye or may not show up in manual inspections. This means issues can be found early before they potentially go on to cause delays for motorists or passengers or be quite costly.
It also allows maintenance budgets to be better prioritised and targeted to the bridges that need it the most, making maintenance more efficient and less time-consuming.
While the new technology is currently being used on bridges, it has the potential to be used on any structure that needs maintenance – including roads, multi-storey car parks, tunnels and ports. The technology will be progressively rolled out on priority bridges, particularly those that regularly deal with heavy loads and are at the most risk of deterioration.
Read the Media Release here.
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