Wednesday, February 10, 2010

News: Rotherham design experts solve engineering problem


Design experts at Atkins Rotherham have designed specialised equipment for a bridge inspection system never before used in the UK.

Consulting engineers turned to Bennett Associates in Rotherham, part of the Atkins group, when they wanted to use an invasive technique to inspect some of the 11,600 individual high-tensile wires supporting the Forth road bridge.

It required the outer wrapping wire to be uncoiled, wooden wedges to be driven into the cables to open them and then sample wires to be removed for inspection and analysis. In the case of the Forth bridge, the work was carried out at five positions on each cable, some of them 80 metres above the road deck.

Once the inspections and sampling at each location was completed, the cables had to be returned to their original profile, re-wound in galvanised wire and have the final protective coatings applied.

Bennett designed the specialised equipment required to compact the cable, apply the wrapping wire and provide safe working for the high-level work.

For the high-level inspections, platforms were suspended from the main cables between the vertical hangers up to 80 metres above the bridge deck to provide weather protection for the staff, machinery and cable interior. They measured 18 metres long x 3.5 metres wide, weigh around 12 tonnes and are designed to be used in wind speeds of 30mph gusting to 35mph.

To return the cable to its original shape, Bennett experts designed a special compacting machine capable of applying a maximum hydraulic load of 95 tonnes at 700bar.

Designers also came up with a mechanised technique that would ensure the wrapping wire would be applied consistently at the correct tension and also ensure that each turn of the wire would lie tightly against the previous one.

This work has also been completed on the Severn and Humber suspension bridges thanks to the design engineers in Rotherham.

Atkins Bennett website



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