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Case study: Tay Road Bridge, Enhancing Operations with CiiM

The Tay Road Bridge is a crucial artery between the North East of Fife and Dundee in Scotland. To advance its monitoring and maintenance capabilities, the bridge's managing body collaborated with Digiflec to introduce a LiDAR system: CiiM.

This project was carried out under the Tay5G Challenge fund, of which Digiflec was one of the winners. Tay5G, a Tay Cities Region Deal project in collaboration with The Scotland 5G Centre and industry partners, aims to accelerate the development of innovative projects utilising the power of 5G technology to transform various sectors.

This case study delves into the project’s background, challenges, implementation, and the anticipated impact on future bridge management practices.

Background:

The Tay Road Bridge, managed by Alan Hutchison, serves as a critical connection between the North East of Fife and Dundee, handling around 27,000 vehicles daily alongside pedestrian and cyclist traffic. Its daily operations rely on a comprehensive surveillance system with 32 cameras to monitor usage and condition.

Challenge:

The Tay Road Bridge team encountered several operational challenges:

Delayed Data Retrieval: The existing system necessitated quarterly physical data collection from traffic loops embedded in the road surface. This process led to a significant delay in data availability, hindering timely decision-making.

Intrusive Installation and Maintenance: The traffic loops required disruptive installation procedures and regular maintenance, which complicated operations and risked road surface integrity.

Limited Insight into Road Degradation: The previous technology provided insufficient data on vehicle types and weights crossing the bridge, a critical factor in understanding and addressing road wear and tear.

Solution:

To address these challenges, Digiflec proposed integrating 3D LiDAR sensors and their sensor agnostic CiiM (Connected Intelligent Infrastructure Monitoring) service on the Tay Road Bridge. CiiM unlocks valuable data insights derived from LiDAR sensors, regardless of the specific sensor model used.

CiiM offered significant advantages over the existing traffic loop system:

  • Real-time Data Collection: CiiM enables continuous, real-time traffic flow monitoring, eliminating data acquisition delays.
  • Non-intrusive Installation: Digiflec can install LiDAR sensors without disrupting the road surface, preserving the bridge’s structural integrity and avoiding traffic delays.
  • Enhanced Traffic Analysis: CiiM provides valuable insights into traffic patterns and load distribution by differentiating between vehicle types and assessing their weights.

Benefits:

The adoption of LiDAR technology has significantly enhanced the bridge management team’s capabilities:

  • Improved Maintenance Scheduling: With real-time data, the team can prioritise maintenance activities more effectively, focusing on areas with higher wear and tear.
  • Informed Capital Expenditure: Insights into the types of vehicles using the bridge and their impact on its structure allow for better resource allocation for its upkeep.
  • Increased Operational Efficiency: Monitoring traffic flow and vehicle types in real time facilitates more responsive management of the bridge’s infrastructure.

Looking ahead, the bridge management team anticipates further advancements in CiiM, particularly in recognising signs of distress among bridge users. This development could play a pivotal role in enhancing safety measures and providing timely assistance to individuals in need.

Working with Digiflec

The collaboration with Digiflec proved to be seamless and productive. The Digiflec team was responsive, adapting their technology to meet the bridge’s specific needs while also proposing new applications for the sensors. Their approach not only addressed the immediate challenges but also laid the groundwork for future enhancements in bridge safety and operational efficiency. The positive experience with Digiflec illustrates the potential of combining public infrastructure with innovative technology solutions for mutual benefit.

Conclusion:

The collaboration between the Tay Road Bridge authority and Digiflec represents a significant leap forward in bridge monitoring and management. By leveraging LiDAR technology, the team has overcome substantial operational challenges, paving the way for future enhancements that promise to further secure the bridge’s legacy as a vital transport link and a testament to modern engineering.

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