Innovative photogrammetry technique deployed at the Great Belt Bridge wins IABSE award

The prestigious International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) awards have just been held in New York. On stage to receive the Outstanding Paper Award in the Technical Report category was Jan Winkler from Atkins Denmark and his co-author Martin Duus Hansen from Sund & Bælt. They were recognised for their work with long-term monitoring of the Great Belt Bridge expansion joint using digital image correlation.

“Digital Image Correlation is an innovative optical measurement technique for determining strains and deflections in structures without the need for surface contact or rail and road possessions,” said Dr. Jan Winkler, Professional Head of Geomatics, Atkins SNCLavalin – Transportation.

“Atkins’ DIC capability was developed through a research project started in 2011. And since then we have been able to transfer DIC technique from the lab to real-world applications and outdoor structural monitoring,” he said.

His co-author, Martin Duus Hansen, Maintenance Manager at Sund & Bælt added:

“The outcome of the long-term DIC monitoring not only helped to understand the behaviour of the expansion joint better, but also informed the next steps in the development of our maintenance strategy.”

Watch Jan Winkler tell about the initativ in this video:

A summary of the paper is available below. In addition, the full award-winning paper, “Innovative Long-Term Monitoring of the Great Belt Bridge Expansion Joint Using Digital Image Correlation”, can be read here.

Summary: Making informed decisions on timely intervention for effective bridge maintenance activities relies on good quality, accurate and reliable data. Although the proper functioning of expansion joints is critical to bridge performance, long-term monitoring of their condition is challenging due to the cost of sensors and data processing. Digital Image Correlation (DIC) is a non-contact photogrammetry technique that can image a bridge component periodically and compute strain and deformation from images previously recorded. This paper describes a one-month-long monitoring campaign whereby a DIC system was used as a cost-effective tool for gathering data on the movement and rotation of one of the Great Belt Bridge’s expansion joints. The monitoring provided previously unavailable data, helped improve understanding of the behaviour of the joint and informed the next steps for the maintenance strategy. The results show good correlation between the DIC data and measured temperature data. A mathematical model was established which relates the air temperature to expansion joint deformation, enabling real-time evaluation of monitoring data and the cost-efficient identification of problems in the functioning of expansion joints. This is one of the first applications of a DIC technique to the long-term monitoring of a suspension bridge.

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