In the present day world, one of the biggest challenges faced by civil engineers is upkeep of ageing structures. The problem is faced more apparently in city pipes, tunnels, and bridges that form a primary part of framework. Most of these were built almost five to ten decades back which clearly implies their rapid rate of deterioration. In slightly circumstances, many of those have received serious impact in light of new construction around them, some due to tunnel constructions and others due to deep excavation. Another specific reason behind these has been the rapid rate of urbanization that has led to over-crowding of spaces with serious safety and protection issues. These become more prominent as more and more infrastructures went under ageing process and showed urgent requirements of maintenance. This also raised the need for monitoring solutions that can ensure the integrity and safety of these structures. A demand has recently risen for wireless management of such networks in order to keep everyone safe and reduce the chances of damages.
In words of IDTechEx, Raghu Das, “developments in sensor and energy harvesting technology are helping to drive this market. The growing deployment of sensors on strcutures to monitor problems associated with vibration and strain, in the case of bridges and tunnels for example, is growing rapidly. Many of these devices tend to be deployed when structures may need to be repaired, but engineers are unsure. For example, for bridges supporting two or three lanes of traffic, up to 300 sensors can be deployed to monitor the structure over a period of three to six months. Once the data has been collected and processed, an informed decision can then be made as to whether maintenance or further action is required. “
Wireless networks based monitoring systems are pretty simple in nature, however, these are expected to be autonomous in coming future which will increase their capability to integrate particular sensing abilities in terms of data, power, processing, and communication management. The best part is the sensor network of this kind can be scattered across engineering system not only the purpose of monitoring but also for extending their life expectancy. Structural damaged might not seem very obvious but may become very apparent as and when the structure fails. Wireless monitoring systems this offer the most practical solution for structural health monitoring. It also helps in avoiding the wired systems hassles and enables simpler placing of pre-existing infrastructure. However, it is closely concerned with utilization of energy harvesting technologies that can empower these sensors and help in avoiding the costs and safety issues with respect to maintenance. It will be most useful in the places where battery powered devices are in play.
The best part is such sensors can be powered with the help of numerous environmental mediums like vibration, thermal, as well as solar ones. Raghu explains further, “bridges and roads that support large amount of traffic tend to deploy sensors powered by solar energy harvesting, while in other situations, we are seeing the use of thermoelectrical generators, where power is generated across the structure by variations in temperature.”
Filed Under: News