Smart Concrete for bridges, highways and other public infrastructure

Ready for take-off at Düsseldorf Airport

It’s just a small bridge. Yet without it, airplanes flying into Düsseldorf Airport could not refuel. The bridge is the only access route to the airport’s fuel tank farm. Every day, over 120 tank trucks, each carrying over 30,000 liters of kerosene use it – a huge load that will eventually lead to material fatigue. If the bridge was damaged, could you imagine the consequences? It would be a disaster for the airport’s entire flight operations.

Wouldn’t it be great, therefore, if the bridge could inform the airport authorities when it needs to be repaired? Good news - this is actually going to happen. Deutsche Telekom has partnered with BS2 Sicherheitssysteme to install a pioneering digital early warning system in the fuel bridge, to be followed by other critical infrastructure and concrete buildings at the airport.

How to make bridges smart and safe

Now, what does it take to make bridges smart? For this, from ten up to more than fifty sensors are built directly into the road surface and bridge copings to measure temperature, humidity, chemicals (e.g. salt) and corrosion – factors that can cause major or even irreparable damage to the reinforcement steel in concrete structures. The data is transmitted to a backend via Deutsche Telekom’s NB-IoT network, where it is analyzed in near real-time and notifications will be sent out in case of critical conditions. The sensors can be installed in new structures or retrofitted into old ones and allows you to remotely assess the conditions of the concrete infrastructure without having to restrict traffic and extract material samples, as it was done in the past.

Preventing traffic collapse

The airport is not the only one with an eye to the future. Together with BS2 Sicherheitssysteme, we are supporting the German Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) at a testing site on the A3 highway at the East Cologne junction. The test section is focusing on load testing and durability but is also being used to try out new ideas, including new construction materials and mixtures, as well as novel construction types and new building processes.

The BASt team’s goal is to adapt Germany’s road infrastructure to tomorrow’s traffic requirements, tackling the rise in freight traffic and added congestion across the country. This is a pressing problem for most public authorities in Europe. Huge traffic volumes are putting pressure on all of Europe’s nerve centres: its roads, airports and related infrastructures.

The solution is to go smart, as Michael Hohenecker, Head of Data Management and Building Inspection at Real Estate Management, Düsseldorf Airport puts it in the video below: “Digital developments mean we have to try new things.”

If you want to learn more about smart bridges and buildings, visit us at Smart City Expo in Barcelona.

Author: Laurita Mroß Marketing Communications IOT / Smart Cities B2B Europe
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