Bridge testing: digital wireless technology
Ensuring the integrity and performance of the country’s bridges and infrastructure is critical after the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, MN, in August. Physical Acoustics Corporation (PAC) has developed digital wireless sensor technology that assists bridge operators in preventing bridge failures.
Bridges are usually evaluated and inspected visually, but more advanced technologies are required to assist in making decisions for planning for maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, or replacement.
PAC applies sound technology called acoustic emission (AE) for bridge monitoring, and other sensors such as vibration accelerometers and corrosion gages to assess causes of failures and predict bridge life. Cracks can be heard from remote distances by using AE sensors.
Since the early 90s AE has been investigated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which continues to fund development, testing, and demonstrations of AE. “It is only because of state DOTs and government funding that has prevented wide scale deployment of on-line monitoring using sensor fusion and wireless technologies on bridges,” states Dr. Sotirios J. Vahaviolos, founder and chairman/CEO of PAC. “We have the technology for bridge health monitoring now and are ready to team up with bridge operators in order to prevent catastrophic failures from naturally occurring structural flaws that are the result of an aging infrastructure.”