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Knowing when the bridge breaks - wireless sensor network to assess building damage early

10.10.2007
Damage commonly occurs in buildings when a component fails suddenly with a partial or total collapse as a consequence. This type of event leads to serious damage to property and if it is a bridge or a large hall, then people in particular are at risk.

The often great age of bridges and the increasing volume of traffic (particularly heavy traffic) which they are expected to carry are in clear contradiction to each other. Thus the probability increases that the load-bearing capacity of a bridge decreases rapidly and often unnoticed with sometimes dire consequences.

In order to prevent such accidents, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing and the Berlin-based ScatterWeb Company are currently developing a special radio-based, self-configuring measuring system. This measuring system consists of a number of identically designed sensors which are self-sustaining, need no wiring, can act as both transmitters and receivers and are equipped with a special sensor technology making long-term monitoring of buildings or engineering facilities possible. This in particular applies to buildings and structures for transport and traffic and large-scale industrial facilities, where a subsequent wiring installation is difficult or impossible.

In order to reliably monitor large or inaccessible objects over the long term, the radio range must be sufficient. The sensor unit uses strain gauges for stress analysis and contains interfaces for additional sensors. In addition, all components must exhibit a high accuracy of measurement and high energy-efficiency. The high network stability required can be ensured by the so-called multihop architecture which enables the exchange of failed modules and the integration of additional modules without interrupting the network operation.

The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and unites two partners, both of whom are in a leading position in their fields. BAM's Division "Measurement and Testing Technology, Sensors" provides its competence in the field of sensor technology, experimental structure monitoring and early damage assessment while the ScatterWeb Company is prominent in the field of self-configuring wireless mesh networking.

Contact:
Dr.-Ing. Matthias Bartholmai
Division VIII.1 "Measurement and Testing Technology, Sensors"
Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)
12200 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 8104-1912
Fax: +49 30 8104-1917
Email: matthias.bartholmai@bam.de
Janis Anders
ScatterWeb GmbH
Charlottenstr. 16
10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 8020838-0
Fax: +49 30 8020838-11
Email: anders@scatterweb.net

Dr. Ulrike Rockland | idw
Further information:
http://www.bam.de

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