Bridge Bearing Monitoring

Sandra Myrtue

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Bridge bearings are a critical component of bridge structures, as they are responsible for allowing the bridge to react to environmental and dynamic loads without causing cyclic damage to the pillars of the bridge. The proper functioning and performance of bridge bearings is of paramount importance, as a failure of these bearings can lead to significant structural damage, or even collapse of the bridge.

Monitoring of bridge bearings is an essential task in structural health monitoring, as it allows for the prediction of the remaining lifetime of the bearing, assessment of the current performance, and understanding of the current condition. This can be achieved through the use of various sensors, such as pressure sensors, displacement sensors, and temperature sensors.

Pressure sensors can be installed within the bearing to monitor the load, which can help to determine if the bridge loads are within the design specifications.

Displacement sensors can be installed on the bearing and tell if the bearing is moving within the design specifications and be used to estimate the remaining lifetime of the bearing. For example, in the case of sliding bearings, the bearing material will have an expected lifetime dependent on the distance moved, as the material is gradually worn away during movement of the bridge. By monitoring the movement of the bridge using displacement sensors, it is possible to determine the remaining lifetime of the bearing and assess its current condition.

Temperature sensors can also be installed within the bearing, which can help to detect abnormal temperature changes. This can indicate issues such as bearing failure or misalignment, which can be addressed before they lead to significant structural damage.

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