Bluetooth-friendly sensors monitor military bridging systems

25 July 2017

Bluetooth and sensing technology reports the remaining service-life of military bridging systems. The technology detects the stress and strain on bridges designed for use by tanks such as the over 60-tonne Challenger 2.

The sensors wirelessly transmit data to a handheld device, allowing soldiers to easily assess the health of the bridge.

Without the use of an automated fatigue monitoring system, the remaining service life of rapidly deployable military bridges is based on manual records and is difficult to judge, resulting in bridges being retired early or overused. The new technology uses a series of sensors fitted to the bridge components which undergo the most strain; it records around a hundred strain readings per second to monitor.

A computer-analysis then gives a component-by-component overview of bridge health. BAE Systems’ use of fatigue monitoring technology assures military engineers that their bridges remain strong, even on extended military campaigns where bridges can remain in place for many months.

The system is being tested by BAE Systems’ 50-strong specialist military bridging team based in Telford, UK, who operate Europe’s most advanced Bridge Test Facility. The Facility simulates thousands of bridge crossings by a variety of wheeled and tracked vehicles, allowing BAE Systems to assess bridge performance using comprehensive data records on how the various components perform.

John Lees, Bridging Business Manager for BAE Systems Land (UK) said: “The biggest obstacle to monitoring bridge health is achieving a continuous flow of accurate data telling you what the bridge is experiencing. Simply monitoring the number of crossings – as most military users do now – doesn’t give an accurate picture. 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.”

BAE Systems’ specialist team is now developing and testing a next generation Modular Bridging System to be even more agile and reliable.


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