September 20, 2017
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Accurate data
BAE develops health monitoring sensors


Engineers at BAE are testing an integrated Bluetooth and sensing technology which reports the remaining service-life of military bridging systems.

The new ‘fatigue monitoring’ technology continuously detects the stress and strain on bridges designed to be used by tanks such as the more than 60 tonne Challenger 2. The sensors then wirelessly transmit data to a handheld device, allowing soldiers to easily assess the health of the bridge.

Without the use of an automated fatigue monitoring system, the remaining service life of rapidly deployable military bridges is based on manual records and is difficult to judge, resulting in bridges being retired early or overused. The new technology uses a series of sensors fitted to the bridge components which undergo the most strain and records around a hundred strain readings per second to monitor.

A computer-analysis then gives a component-by-component overview of bridge health. BAE Systems’ use of fatigue monitoring technology gives military engineers the peace of mind that their bridges remain healthy, even on extended military campaigns where bridges can remain in place for many months.

The biggest obstacle to monitoring bridge health is achieving a continuous flow of accurate data telling what the bridge is experiencing. Simply monitoring the number of crossings – as most military users do now – doesn’t give an accurate picture. The new solution monitors and analyses all of these variables to give a real-time, accurate assessment of bridge condition. It will make it easier to use bridges in civilian situations such as disaster relief, where keeping accurate data on crossings is very difficult. It will also reduce whole-life ownership cost by ensuring bridges are serviced only when required and that they can confidently be used for their entire service life.