Monitoring structure movement in 3D

The South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) has awarded a £50,000 grant to Bristol-based Imetrum to develop a 3D system that will monitor movement of structures such as buildings and bridges.

The company, based in Flax Bourton, currently makes a 2D system, which is used to assess the properties of materials during their design and manufacture.

Having secured more than 50 material testing orders from high-profile companies such as Airbus and Rolls Royce, Imetrum will use the grant to develop the first 3D product specifically tailored to monitoring structures.

Using real-time digital-video processing, it will give engineers a better knowledge of the way structures behave and move when a load, such as a car on a bridge, is applied. It will also measure the effects of different environmental conditions, for example wind and temperature.

As well as being used in civil-engineering projects, such as bridges, dams and buildings, the system could also be used in the automotive and aircraft industries to test large structural components, such as car chassis and aircraft fuselages.

Because of the UK’s ageing infrastructure, hundreds of bridges, dams and public buildings need to be tested regularly for safety and to develop more efficient maintenance strategies.

Network Rail has more than 50,000 bridges in its network, 50 per cent of which are more than 100 years old. The new 3D-monitoring equipment will give the engineers measurement data in a matter of minutes, compared with traditional measurement techniques that take days to set up.

John Brewster, managing director at Imetrum, said: ‘The 3D system will give the structural engineer a system that is easy to set up and will give the necessary data to guarantee the safety of a whole range of structures from bridges and power stations to aircraft and wind turbines.’

Imetrum was founded in 2003 as a spinout from Bristol University. The company’s 2D Video Gauge product was first launched in 2007 and is now used both within academia and industry.