The importance of bridges and roads can be easily understood by the fact that any damage to these structures can directly affect the transportion industry and ultimately the economy of a nation. In worst cases where several connecting structures are damaged, traffic is delayed, goods don’t get to market in a timely manner, commuters are late to work and economies suffer. Therefore, these structures must be maintained in working condition by properly inspecting and budgeting for repairs.
Bridge inspection is a time consuming, labour intensive and costly process due to the use of antiquated and manual methods. Even the more common advanced tests today are destructive in nature. These methods have been used from a long time to check the safety of the bridge. In destructive testing (DT) such as core test, pull out and pull off test, concrete surface of the bridge is slightly damaged to collect samples and then repaired after the test is performed. Since these tests are destructive the portions that are disturbed allow air and water intrusion which further speeds up deterioration and corrosion.
Destructive testing is generally used to assess the following physical properties of the structures like bridge and roadways including
- Impact resistance
- Yield and ultimate tensile strength
- Fracture toughness
- Fatigue strength
Although, DT is able to assess the above mentioned features of the material but it is not very effective in finding discontinuities and microscopic differences in the materials of different components of the bridge or any other structure.
Non Destructive Testing (NDT) is a modern practice used to inspect, evaluate and test materials, components or assemblies for any discontinuities, damage or deteriorations without damaging the surface of the structure. Therefore, it can be used on the whole structure and lot sampling is not required.
Non Destructive Testing methods are generally referred by the penetrating medium or equipment used in the test. Some of the common Non Destructive Testing methods are:
- Electromagnetic Testing
- Acoustic Emission Testing
- Laser Testing method
- Ground Penetrating Radar
- Thermal/Infrared Testing
- Ultrasonic Testing
- Vibration analysis
- Radiographic Testing
- Microwave Testing
- Magnetic Particle Testing
- Magnetic Flux Leakage
Visual examination is common in both destructive investigations andNon destructive testing. It involves the visual observation of the super surface and subsurface of the bridge to find any discontinuities, corrosion or deteriorations. Visual inspection may be perform with naked eyes or the vision may be enhanced with the help of optical instruments like magnifying glass, boroscope, mirror, charged couple devices and computerized systems for remote viewing. Computerized consoles are used during NDT for real time inspection on site.
Infrastructure Preservation Corporation is a leader in non destructive testing. We have patented technologies utilizing different non destructive testing methods and robotics for inspection of bridges and different components of bridges and infrastructure. Most of our core focus revolves around re-developing antiquated inspections and incorporating NDT “Nondestructive testing technologies that have been around for ever and incorporating them with modern technology and robotics to provide advance condition assessment reports on infrastructure worldwide. For infrastructure and bridge inspections these advanced condition assessment reports give the department of transportation the quantitative data they need to properly budget for maintenance and repairs. Some of our service offerings includePoleScan®, TendonScan® and CableScan® to name a few.
There are several benefits of our non destructive testingmethods which are
- Improved safety for inspection crew and public
- No requirement of lane closures during inspection means no inconvenience to ongoing traffic
- Collects data from all angles and also from inside the bridge surface and its components
- Produce quantitative results instead of subjective result
- Major cost saving due to less labour and completion of inspection in short time
- No damage to the surface of bridge means no unnecessary repairing cost required
- Thorough and accurate condition assessment of the whole structure and its component
- Graphic illustration in 2D and 3D for better understanding of external and internal deterioration like voids and cracks and analyzing their length, width and position in the structure
- Creation of Data history for better monitoring of minor deteriorations in future.
In short utilizing the most advanced technology available and changing the inspection parameters are the only way for the current asset managers/engineering firms to provide real data on the assets they are tasked to inspect for the department of transportation. Only by providing this data can the department of transportation properly allocate their assets to maintain and improve our infrastructure says Doug Thaler, Senior EVP of Infrastructure Preservation Corporation. Up till now visual subjective inspections have been used. A method that hasn’t changed in 50 years. “It is irresponsible for any country to continue to inspect their infrastructure in this manner. Guidelines need to be updated to incorporate modern technology and robotics to bring inspections into the 21st century, something we are all anxious to see happen in the US. For the safety of our public and the success of our nation’s economy.”