The list of bridges and tunnels’ failures across the world is getting longer, which would suggest a greater need for infrastructure monitoring.
Indeed, the structures that we use every day, to our eyes may seem static and solid, but temperature, weather conditions, geological changes, aging infrastructure, design errors, non-nominal loads according to design or traffic activity impact these structures.
Maintaining the health of the constructions that our economies and daily lives depend on can pose a real challenge for engineers in charge of their upkeep.
OSMOS has decided to address this challenge by developing an innovative, best in class solution, which has subsequently been deployed on many structures around the world. One such example is the Mont Blanc Tunnel…
Created in 2001 OSMOS Group, a subsidiary of EREN Group, aims to extend the lifespan of structures. Their objectives are twofold:
OSMOS has developed a range of structural health monitoring solutions. Among them, they designed autonomous sensors called LIRIS, that are installed on key points of the structure to measure the effects of deformations, cracks, bearing conditions or external stresses.
LIRIS Optical Strand
A LIRIS Optical Strand on a bridge underface
In order to evaluate wear and tear on the structure and its evolution over time, various sensors are installed on the structure. These sensors track multiple parameters such as vibrations caused by dynamic events (heavy vehicles, wind, etc.), the amplitude of deformation, displacements, humidity, temperature or load stress.
Among these sensors, the LIRIS wireless Optical Strand, powered by Saft batteries, provides real-time detection and analysis of deformations at the frequency of 50Hz (and even 100Hz for the new generation of LIRIS sensors), ensuring signal stability over time and reduced signal processing time. When subjected to strain such as compression or tension, they form micro-curvatures that are converted into deformation measurements.
Other wired-based sensors such as Accelerometers, Anemometers, Weathervanes, Extensometers, Hygrometers, Piezometers, Temperature probes, Rain gauges or Strain gauges can be plugged into the system. A wireless GPRS module—also powered by Saft Batteries—that can send instantaneous SMS and/or email alerts, informs the recipient when deformations surpass designated parameters, identifying structural failures promptly and facilitating a targeted maintenance.
To detect and collect data on all these phenomena, OSMOS has developed their own expert data acquisition system—OSMOS EDAS—compatible with all sensors available on the market. The data is encrypted using SSL and sent in real time via 3G and 4G networks & LAN to the cloud where it gets processed and analyzed by proprietary software using expert algorithms to produce valuable information that can be customized and will be presented via a visualization platform to the client.
Thanks to its integrated mini-station, LIRIS frees itself from any wired connection, offering quick and simple installation in even the most remote places while maintaining an autonomy of up to 3 years.
The whole business model is particularly interesting as OSMOS had to develop their own hardware to comply with the specificities of their field. Their comprehensive offer allows them to sell both the hardware and the service but also to have a complete control of their processes. The hardware is an integral part of their profitability.
The Mont Blanc Tunnel is one of the major Trans-Alpine transport routes, linking Chamonix in France with Courmayeur in Italy. About 12 km long, it was built in the 1960’s. It is made of a single tube of concrete. The deck of the road rests on a concrete slab, with hollow boxes below it that are used as ventilation and technical rooms. The tunnel receives close to 2 million vehicles a year or 5,000 vehicles a day, including 1,721 heavy trucks. These passages are creating dynamic stresses of varying intensity that contribute to the aging of the structure.
In order to check the structural integrity of the slab, GEIE Tunnel du Mont-Blanc commissioned OSMOS to place 117 LIRIS Optical Strands on the slabs supporting the tunnel’s traffic lanes. The OSMOS monitoring system makes it possible to measure the effect of traffic, which represent both loads stresses on the structure and associated stresses in the material. The sensors sample in real time (50 points by seconds) the effect of vehicles passages on the slab.
Location of LIRIS Optical Strands on the Mont Blanc Tunnel’s slab underface
Thanks to the data and the mechanical behavior analysis, GEIE-TMB is able to check the structural integrity of the slab and the effects of road traffic and aging.
You’ll be relieved to hear that the deformations recorded on the slab show that the movements or settlements are stable and occur within expected tolerance levels.
Whereas previously the GEIE-TMB had to close roads when there was even the smallest doubt, they can now ensure the continuity of road traffic inside the tunnel, while making sure no risk can arise from a degradation of the structural condition of the slab below the road lanes. Users can confidently take the tunnel whilst knowing that their security is not in question.
Moreover, in the long run, these reports will help improve the infrastructure and optimize construction practices.
Using LIRIS monitoring technologies, together with other sensors, OSMOS aims to create and deploy a state-of-the-art system that can address the various challenges in structural deformation monitoring of critical infrastructure. The use of Saft batteries in LIRIS wireless Optical Strand and GPRS transmission units allows OSMOS to offer a flexible, reliable, long life solution that can be adapted to any structure specificities. The system provides information of paramount importance to optimize maintenance costs, save energy and materials needed for repairs, thanks to a targeted approach of inspections and timely identification of potential structural damage.
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