Structural Intelligence in Bridge Monitoring – Intelligent Real-Time Monitoring, Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) and Structural Analysis of Bridges

The volume of traffic is increasing; especially heavy load traffic has seen a significant increase in recent years. At the same time, more and more bridges in Germany have age-related damage or are not designed for these high loads – for cost reasons, however, many of the existing bridges cannot be quickly replaced with new structures. Inaction will lead to the number of bridges rapidly declining and therefore will endanger mobility. Solutions must be found which continue to ensure safe crossing without incurring high additional costs.

Wölfel helps operators of bridge structures with solutions for structural health monitoring to detect possible damage to the structure at an early stage. This is often the only way to significantly extend the service life of structures.

Detect damage at an early stage, optimize maintenance work, extend lifetime

According to DIN 1076, bridges must be inspected visually and "up-close" on a regular basis. As an additive method, monitoring provides you with valid statements about fatigue and extreme loads and reliably monitors the progress of preliminary damage, thus ensuring safety at all times and allowing for a lifetime extension.

Possible areas of application

  • Acceptance test/baseline measurement:
    In order to have comparison values for later measurements and to detect defects at an early stage, we determine all relevant parameters already at the beginning of the life cycle, including effects due to traffic, temperature or wind as well as resistances (acceleration, strain, inclination).
  • Monitoring to support verification:
    We provide missing characteristic values for the critical verifications and provide metrological support for the necessary retrofitting measures. This ensures the most continuous operation possible without failures and disturbances and it ensures the safe lifetime extension of the bridge.
  • Construction condition monitoring:
    We validate calculated temporary construction conditions by measuring the associated parameters (also during deconstruction) to ensure the safe operation at the construction site of the bridge and to control the construction progress.
  • Damage monitoring (e.g. as part of recalculations):
    In case of specific problems and damages (e.g. coupling joint problems, stress corrosion cracking, cracked tendons) we monitor the damage progression. This is the basis for the development of effective countermeasures and helps verifying the effectiveness of the measures after the retrofit is completed.

The advantages and possible applications of bridge monitoring at a glance:

Continuous structural information to ensure overall stability even between manual inspection intervals

Ensuring high availability by maximizing periods of use and optimizing permissible traffic loads and vehicle speeds

Targeted and pre-emptive managing of rehabilitation to reduce maintenance costs

Lifetime extension of a bridge without compromising safety

Safe continued operation of existing structures until they are replaced by new structures

We specialize in bridge monitoring: Services and systems from a single source

We develop customized structural health monitoring concepts for bridges. Our in-depth expertise in this area is founded on our experience in the monitoring and data analysis of complex structures as, for example, with the foundation monitoring of offshore wind turbines.

Wölfel offers bridge monitoring solutions throughout the entire lifetime of the bridge. Our measurement concept for short-term measurements and continuous monitoring is modular: From a pool of high quality and tried-and-tested sensors and measuring devices, we put together a measuring system individually tailored to your project. Data analysis is performed with intelligent algorithms, taking into account operating and environmental conditions. The results are concrete recommendations for action that help increase availability and provide for a lifetime extension. In addition, we can also handle the necessary reporting and visualization of the data in our Monitoring Intelligence Center MIC.Bridge.

The monitoring process: How we work with you to find the exact solution for your given scenario

Structural Intelligence in Civil Engineering – Intelligent Real-time Monitoring, Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) and Structural Analysis of Structures

The service life of structures is difficult to predict, as loads vary greatly and wear is not straightforward. Design and actual stress usually differ from each other. This poses a major challenge – both for the engineers responsible for the safety of the structure and for those responsible for operation and maintenance.

Early detection of damage, optimization of maintenance work, extension of service life

In order to control the condition of the structures and to better plan repairs, monitoring systems are used which continuously record the dynamic loads and the resulting stresses and reactions.

However, our systems do not only record raw data, but rather analyze the entire condition of the structure, taking into account the operating and environmental conditions, using intelligent algorithms (structural intelligence). Based on this, concrete instructions for the user can then be derived. You can find out exactly how our systems work and why you should use Structural Intelligence here.

Our service portfolio in the field of Civil Engineering:

Classical monitoring (e.g. of tunnels, retaining structures, noise protection structures)

  • Recording and evaluation of the true condition of the building
  • Identification of damage and weak points
  • Recording of building loads (traffic loads, weather, dynamic loads, component loads)
  • Monitoring of damage or weak points of critical components (e.g. bridge bearings, roadway transitions, suspension cables, tendons)

Evaluation with the help of Structural Intelligence

  • Calculation of the remaining service life
  • Extension of service life through early detection of damage and optimization of operation
  • Optimization of inspection and maintenance work and intervals (targeted maintenance of critical components)

The analysis and visualization of the collected data takes place in our Monitoring Intelligence Center MIC.Construction.

MIC. Bridge and MIC.Construction – Web Portals for the Remote Monitoring of Bridges and Other Structures

Our Monitoring Intelligence Centers MIC.Bridge and MIC.Construction have been developed for the remote monitoring of bridges and other structures as well as construction sites. Here, comprehensive information about the structure itself as well as its operating and environmental conditions is evaluated with intelligent algorithms and made clear and available to the user. They can see at a glance whether limit values are being complied with, whether and where a problem is occurring, what may be the cause and what measures need to be taken to remedy the fault or prevent its progression. Concrete recommendations for action are formulated which help to extend the service life of the building and increase its availability.  

The basis for the data acquisition is a tailor-made SHM concept. The data collected is evaluated and archived automatically. The prepared information is made available to the user in a dashboard, reports can be created on the basis of various templates or individually configured. In addition, alarms can be defined. Optionally, the system can be permanently monitored by our experienced engineers.

Please contact me personally


I’ll be pleased to advise you on the development of an individual monitoring concept for your civil engineering project as well as on questions concerning our range of products and services in the field of structural intelligence.

Dipl.-Ing. Jens Kühne

+49 931 49708-208