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Wed June 16 2021

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Fisher to keep tabs on Tamar Bridge

11 Apr 19 Structural monitoring specialist James Fisher Testing Services has been awarded an eight-year contract to monitor the Tamar Bridge in Plymouth.

The Tamar Bridge
The Tamar Bridge

James Fisher Testing Services (JFTS) will use a new structural health monitoring system called BridgeWatch, which is based upon its smart asset management system (SAMS) technology stack.

A network of sensors including weather stations, displacement sensors, temperature sensors and robotic total stations will be connected via fibre optic cables and data will be collected through a series of data acquisition units, which will offer secure, real time monitoring of the entire structure.

Tamar Bridge is the responsibility of Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council, who jointly awarded the monitoring contract to to JFTS to help extend the operational life of the structure. 

Richard Cole, engineering manager for the councils’ Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee said: “We’re looking forward to working with JFTS to deliver this important structural health monitoring project for Tamar Bridge. New weather stations will provide essential information to help our operations team deliver a safe and reliable service to bridge users and the data obtained from the structural monitoring sensors will provide an essential record of bridge performance that will support our robust inspection and maintenance regime, both now and into the future.”

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In the long term, the system will monitor key bridge components, including rocker bearings, expansion joints and main cable anchorages. As data is accumulated over time, the system will develop a detailed picture of the bridge’s performance under a variety of conditions and will be used to optimise inspection and maintenance strategies.

Matthew Anderson, head of bridges and structures at JFTS, said: “Our SAMS platform incorporates IoT technologies, big data processing and machine learning capabilities that offer a cutting edge structural health monitoring solution. On the Tamar Bridge, elements of this functionality will allow the operations team to develop a comprehensive picture of the bridge’s performance over an extended period of time. In particular, the system will allow the team to monitor the effect of varying traffic loads, an import factor for the Tamar Bridge since it was upgraded to tolerate heavier traffic in the late ’90s. The insights gathered here will allow the joint authorities to extend the bridge’s operational life for many years to come.”

The system is expected to go live during Q3 2019. Once operational, JFTS will continue to host client data for an initial period of eight years, using UK-based servers on a secure, cloud-based interface.

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