30 October 2020

The role of Italian Innovation in the protection of civil infrastructure

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For the last 20 years, GreenVulcano has been promoting an all Italian innovation that aims at the development and the implementation of a stable, safe and long-lasting infrastructure. All in an effort to start a brand-new dialogue on the way we conceive infrastructure.
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At the beginning of 2020, in light of the success achieved with infrastructure monitoring projects in Italy, France and the Netherlands, we decided to establish an independent company out of our IoT platform. Sensoworks is a startup operating in the field of monitoring and predictive maintenance for civil infrastructure, with a focus on integrating sensors with on-premise or cloud company software.
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With the creation of Sensoworks, GreenVulcano is looking to promote not only it’s innovative agenda but to also shine a light on the Italian engineering excellence that for such a long time has been kept in the dark. They plan on doing this by giving a voice to its software integration experts by creating solutions that will improve the usage and construction of buildings, tunnels and civil infrastructure of all kinds.
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[av_heading heading='But what does it mean to "monitor infrastructures"?' tag='h3' style='' subheading_active='' show_icon='' icon='ue800' font='' size='' av-medium-font-size-title='' av-small-font-size-title='' av-mini-font-size-title='' subheading_size='' av-medium-font-size='' av-small-font-size='' av-mini-font-size='' icon_size='' av-medium-font-size-1='' av-small-font-size-1='' av-mini-font-size-1='' color='' custom_font='' icon_color='' margin='' margin_sync='true' padding='10' icon_padding='10' link='' link_target='' id='' custom_class='' av_uid='av-kgw1an4w' admin_preview_bg=''][/av_heading]

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Let’s take, for example, the monitoring of a bridge, one of the most important pieces of infrastructure for the economic and social life of a given geographical region.

A full monitoring system integrates different measurement kinds and technologies, among which:

  • Static measurements: they entail the application of tools to measure absolute or relative movements of structural elements such as pillars, support components and beams. This allows for the evaluation of the static behavior of critical elements and the wellbeing of the infrastructure while working, highlighting potential consequences due to decay and/or degradation.
  • Dynamic measurements: they work on the analysis of signals coming from natural or induced vibrations and allow for - besides the verification of design hypotheses - the evaluation of the dynamic behavior of infrastructures during their life cycle, through the analysis of the variation of modal parameters (natural vibration frequencies, deformations, vibration damping, etc.) and of potential losses of structural performance, also due to extraordinary phenomena such as earthquakes, floods, etc.
  • Visual measurements: a control component for support structures and critical elements through bidirectional IP cameras to directly evaluate critical details and/or elements to improve surveillance, inspection and maintenance for the personnel in charge and according to the maintenance plan.

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These measurements entail the installation of webs of sensors constantly keeping track of the infrastructure's wellbeing. For instance, they monitor its inclination, the difference of expansion due to heat or other factors, movements related to weights or scaffoldings leaning on it, temperature of materials, impact of traffic and allow for videosurvaillance.

Examples of sensors that make up a complete and efficient, static and dynamic monitoring activity are: strain gauges, joint gauges, biaxial inclinometers, triaxial accelerometer, heat sensors, directionable cameras, etc.

The solution we propose through the installation of these sensors - namely an integrated system - improves and maximizes the value of the data and pieces of information you gather, allowing you to have a more reliable and less affected by local influences behavioral analysis.

This way, all the single components of the system make up a whole, rather than being disjointed, individual elements. They allow for a global evaluation of the infrastructure’s wellbeing and enhance its potential through the union of well-integrated systems all with the aid of the company’s innovative software.
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In brief, the control solution can be summarized as follows:

  • A web of sensors installed and distributed on the infrastructure - in our case, a bridge;
  • Data acquisition systems, with units that memorize and analyze the measurements the sensors gathered,
  • Data transmission systems, namely units of remote software processing for the analysis and interpretation of data with alarms in case of potential issues;
  • A software platform to compare both historic and near real time data.

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A solid control web allows the infrastructure managers to acquire the necessary data to evaluate potential decay or abnormal circumstances.

The installed sensors become a point of reference for those responsible for the maintenance, health and safety and a fundamental support to the maintenance plan. They allow for more constant and less extreme interventions, increasing the infrastructure’s safety and general performance, as well as dramatically decreasing the maintenance costs.

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To us, to innovate means to adopt an holistic approach, a win-win strategic plan for both the market and its users. It means to improve the way we conceive our daily reality, to solve its issues and strengthen its qualities.

For the other research projects we are conducting in our labs you can visit the specific page on our website. For additional questions or comments on this or any other project, we’re always available, contact us!

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VITO DISTANTE - BIOGRAPHY

Graduate in Environmental Civil Engineering, since the beginning of his career he’s dealt with geophysical inspections for the geotechnical and geological characterization of terrains and rocks that make up the underground and with geotechnical/structural monitoring through the design, implementation and management of complex systems for the acquisition of static and dynamic measurements on different kinds of civil and industrial infrastructures.

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