Engineers at BAE Systems have developed new technology to monitor the health of their military bridges.
The "fatigue monitoring" technology continuously monitors the strain bridges designed to be used by tanks are under. The sensors then wirelessly transmit data to a handheld device, so soldiers can easily keep an eye on the state of the bridge and know exactly when it needs repairing or replacing.
Without the introduction of this new Bluetooth and sensing tech, assessing the remaining service life of military bridges is left to manual records, which is considerably harder to judge. As a result, BAE Systems said bridges were often retired early or overused.
The tech uses a range of sensors fitted to the bridge components which undergo the most strain, recording around a hundred strain readings per second. A computer analysis then gives a component by component overview of bridge health.
The system is currently being tested by BAE Systems' 50-strong specialist military bridging team in Telford, with a bridge test facility that simulates thousands of bridge crossings by a range of vehicles.
John Lees, bridging business manager for BAE Systems Land said:
Our 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 our 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.