10 April 2019

JF Testing Services awarded eight year structural health monitoring contract on the Tamar Bridge

Structural health monitoring specialist James Fisher Testing Services (JFTS) has been awarded a contract to provide a new structural health monitoring system (SHM) on the Tamar Bridge for bridge owner, the joint authorities of Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council, to help extend the operational life of the bridge. 

At the heart of the new SHM system is BridgeWatch®, which is based upon JFTS’s Smart Asset Management System (SAMS) technology stack and will aid efficient day-to-day management of the Tamar suspension bridge. SAMS will offer detailed insights on prevailing environmental conditions and their effects across the bridge, helping the operations team to make informed decisions regarding the management of traffic flow to assure the safety of road users.

Richard Cole, engineering manager at the 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.

The 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.”

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 adds:

“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 90’s.

The insights gathered here will allow the joint authorities to extend the bridge’s operational life for many years to come.”

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.

The project is now underway, with initial site visits, design work and key reporting requirements being established with the customer. 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.