The National Science Council (NSC) yesterday announced the development of a new bridge monitoring system — incorporating GPS, electronic telecommunication, wireless transmission and structure monitoring technologies — to improve simultaneous and continuous bridge scour monitoring.
The NSC-funded collaborative research project, consisting of researchers from National Taiwan University and National Cheng Kung University, and led by Tserng Hui-ping (曾惠斌), a civil engineering professor at National Taiwan University, integrated the technologies from several fields to overcome the limitations of the nation’s current bridge monitoring systems.
Tserng said the bridge monitoring systems now in use rely on cable connections, so the design, installment and maintenance of wires on the bridge must be carefully considered and usually cost more, take more time to install and are difficult to remove.
The research team developed a wireless sensor network — including several sensor nodes — that is small and can be easily installed on the side of a bridge and on top of the bridge piers.
The simultaneous bridge-vibration data gathered from the nodes can be transmitted through Wi-Fi to a control room at one end of the bridge, where the timings of the data collection can be adjusted by the GPS system and then sent via the Internet to a server for analysis.
Tserng said that because the structure of bridges may be damaged by long-term bridge scour — removal of river sediment around bridge abutments or piers by swift moving river water, especially in extreme conditions like typhoons or heavy rainfall — monitoring bridge vibration frequencies and analyzing them to exclude the influence of traffic and other everyday factors, can provide information on the structure’s ability to withstand certain conditions.
The system was installed on Chung Sha Bridge (中沙大橋) for testing and proved effective at monitoring the bridge’s scour conditions, he said, adding that hopefully if the system — which is cheaper than the current, imported systems — can be used on more bridges, it could save an estimated NT$10 billion (US$340 million) in disaster prevention and perhaps exported.