Topic area 3: Reliable transport infrastructure
Designing a more reliable transport infrastructure
Ensuring a reliable and safe transport system is one of the key tasks of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). Many thousands of employees in the subordinate authorities contribute to this task with regard to roads, railways and waterways. Researchers working in the topic area ‘Reliable transport infrastructure’ of the BMDV Network of Experts support users at various levels. They develop tools to assess the condition of transport infrastructures as well as construction methods adapted to future and current challenges regarding traffic demand and/or climate change. Additionally, they draw up guidelines for assessing the resilience of transport infrastructures as well as strategies to minimise the risk of damage caused by extreme events. Their research covers the entire life cycle of transportation infrastructures and aims to achieve a resilient transport system, which is robust to disruption. Particularly, the experts consider the transport infrastructure of the different transport modes as a whole, thus reflecting the cross-modal spirit of the BMDV Network of Experts.
Source: Topic area 3
How can the reliability of the transport infrastructure be further increased and be sustainably and efficiently maintained? Four main topics which build up on each other address this research question:
In the main topic ‘Inspection and assessment’, the researchers work on innovative procedures for the assessment of the current and the expected condition of the existing transport infrastructure assets. These procedures include the regular visual inspection, different methods of remote sensing, destructive and non-destructive testing methods (NDT-CE) as well as continuous monitoring by means of sensors, also called ‘structural health monitoring‘ (SHM). The different approaches should supplement each other in the future and be integrated in state-of-the-art digital technology solutions for infrastructure asset management.
In the main topic ‘Reliability, risk and resilience’, the experts consider the effects of extreme disruptive events such as major accidents, fires or extreme weather events on the transport infrastructure. Risk-based approaches and behaviour models are aimed to improve the availability of existing infrastructure elements in a predictive and more reliable way. The researchers develop tools to assess the resilience of engineering constructions and design new indicators based on engineering construction conditions, thereby facilitating policy decisions, such as the prioritisation of maintenance works. In case of extreme weather events, such as storms or heavy rain, predictions of the current weather development enable an improved availability of the transport infrastructure since resilience measures can be initiated early. Knowledge of the probable processes of an event can be used to minimise damage and downtime of the transport infrastructure. One of the researchers’ focus within the BMDV Network of Experts is to develop a live prognosis system for the discharge and water level control at impounded river sections in order to better cope with extreme precipitation events.
The scientists within the main topic ’Life cycle management’ are conceptualizing an indicator-based life cycle management, which can be used in a cross-modal way, thus helping to increase the useful life of transport infrastructures and to adapt structures to evolving transport requirements. In this way, the scientists’ findings support infrastructure managers in ensuring the reliability of structures over the entire life cycle, starting from planning, through construction, use and maintenance to demolition. Since the life cycle management system is closely interlinked with the other three main topics, it is able to draw on new findings in the fields of inspection and reliability assessment as well as on optimised construction methods. The main topic’s findings support users in prioritising, scheduling and implementing construction works. By following this approach, research within the BMDV Network of Experts supports cost-efficiency in transport infrastructure maintenance and helps to increase its availability.
In order to maintain transportation infrastructures, significantly more construction measures will have to be carried out in the future; preferably during operation. This challenge is addressed by researchers within the main topic ‘Optimised construction under traffic’. One of the main objectives is to provide and enhance both knowledge as well as procedures and methods regarding construction operations under traffic. In this way, the scientists maximise the availability and performance of transport routes during repair or replacement operations. In particular, use of massive precast concrete elements is investigated to minimise construction time and significantly reduce traffic disruptions.
- By means of innovative methods, such as remote sensing, monitoring of infrastructures is eased and accelerated.
- In order to increase the transport system`s resilience, for instance with regard to extreme weather events, a cross-modal conceptual assessment method has been drawn up.
- The newly developed "Smart Repair" for anti-corrosion coatings on waterway infrastructures can significantly extend the useful life of steel components.
- Innovative construction methods and transport mode-specific standardisations have revealed great potential for accelerated planning and construction processes.