More than 150,000 bridges in Germany are currently in a state of improvement. Only about 13 percent of these bridges rate “very good” or “good,” and more than 10 percent of them are classified as “unsatisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” Accordingly, the German Institute for Standardization rightfully instructs regular inspection of the structures. We found legal requirements in DIN 1076: So-called “engineering structures in the course of roads and paths” require a routine check every three years, while a more extensive evaluation falls due every six years. However, regular structural inspections are time-consuming and require heavy equipment and road closures. A much more efficient way to meet the increasing need for bridge inspections is to conduct automated aerial surveys by drone.
Bridge Inspections Responsible for 90 Road Closures Daily
Engineers inspect around 90 bridges throughout Germany every day. When applying conventional inspection methods, bridge inspections are extensive. Underbridge inspection units and cherry pickers are used to capture hard-to-reach structures. Moreover, the scaffolding of the bridges becomes necessary, which in turn can’t be carried out without road closures. The authorization process for road closures is costly in terms of time and leads to traffic restrictions in most cases. As a result, traffic is diverted.
Drones Increase Occupational Safety
The Industry consultant GMB has been testing bridges nationwide for decades. The company estimates a working time of one and a half days to inspect a structure with an area of 200 m². Five and a half hours are spent with the set-up of equipment, technical instruction, inspection, and documentation. The increasing number of assessments due and a shortage of skilled workers prevails, requiring the cut back of inspection hours. In addition, ensuring occupational safety is an important aspect that underlines the need for alternative techniques for structural inspection. After all, engineers are still exposed to safety risks in their work. For this reason, GMB sees the use of drones and intelligent software as a change to increase process efficiency and occupational safety.
Automation by Drone
The industrial service provider GMB deploys data generation by drones. Drones capture even hard-to-reach places, such as the underside of bridges, effortlessly and do not require heavy equipment or roadblocks. The industrial service provider GMB, therefore, deploys data generation by drones. Drone flights can be repeated automatically as often as needed. They also collect data in a shorter time, available in high quality. On top of that, drones equipped with suitable sensors record even the smallest spalling and growth. Afterward, using pre-trained image AI software to analyze collected data enables reliable evaluation. The Viscan Solutions software, for example, automatically detects even the slightest damage to the nearest millimeter.
Time Savings of up to 50 Percent with FlyNex
The core of automated drone-based bridge inspections is the cloud-based FlyNex Enterprise Platform. FlyNex unwinds the complete project management: Flight planning, conducting flights, and analysis. Also, the software meets the highest data protection and data security requirements.
Results speak for themselves: Using drones in connection with the FlyNex Enterprise software reduces the time required for building inspections by 50 percent.