For the first time in the bridge inspection industry’s history, one company, Infrastructure Preservation Corporation (IPC) is utilizing modern technology and robotics to provide the DOT (Department of Transportation) the quantitative data they need to properly allocate assets.
By updating inspection methods, IPC can help make the infrastructure safer, extend the service life of infrastructure assets and ultimately save billions of dollars in untimely replacements. The firm’s technology and services will be critical to government officials looking to revamp a troubled and aging transportation infrastructure.
IPC products and services produce data far superior to anything available to date. “We’re a professional services and robotics engineering company,” said IPC Vice President, Doug Thaler. He added, “The primary focus of our company is to develop inspection services that provide asset managers condition assessments that contain real quantitative data. By understanding the current condition of the infrastructure (bridges and high mast light poles) with real quantitative data, the DOT can conduct repairs that will extend their service life.”
Thaler also stated that “IPC’s solutions are meant to update today’s subjective inspections to locate deterioration before it becomes an issue and make that happen within the same maintenance budgets that the DOT is currently spending.”
The company utilizes all available technology, including patented and proprietary technologies, with services being performed by trained veterans in their space. In effect, the same engineers currently trained and qualified to conduct the inspections are being re-trained to conduct the same inspection with the new modern equipment. This gives the asset manager the best of both worlds; an inspection with a qualified inspector using technology that provides quantitative data that allows for the best decisions to be made by the asset owners for maintenance and repairs.
IPC’s solutions include CableScan® - bridge cable stay inspections, TendonScan® - post tension tendon inspections, PoleScan® - high mast light pole inspections and CrackScan® - concrete and steel crack assessments.
CableScan® is a robotic system that relays video images, still images, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and additional information of bridge cable stays to a control station. The system takes note of the location, depth and length of cracks and other problems.
PoleScan® uses high-definition video sensors mounted on a robotic device, as well as LIDAR and Ultrasonics that shimmies up a high mast light pole to conduct detailed inspections of the pole, seams, luminaries and mast arms. These inspections, which are conducted every five years, can help ensure safety and prevent emergency replacements due to cracking and deterioration.
TendonScan® inspects external structural post tension tendons while CrackScan® seeks out cracks in concrete structures. IPC also uses ground penetrating radar (GPR) for NDT inspection of roadways, bridges, runways and parking surfaces for sinkholes, hidden elements and weak spots. The company utilizes customized drones for aerial inspections of railroad bridges and bridge crossings. Current builds include repair bots that can sand down rust and conduct repairs without lane closures and without having to place heavy equipment on our highways and bridges.
All of IPC’s technology have been developed and are manufactured in-house in the USA. IPC employs leading edge engineers that are expert in robotics and NDT technologies.
In addition to providing better data, IPC’s solutions are non-disruptive and can save money and even lives. In many cases, infrastructure inspections with IPC equipment do not require road closures. Cars and trucks can move smoothly, police and transport officials do not need to be posted to redirect traffic, and there are fewer accidents.
A human inspector alone just cannot compete with the technology,” Thaler stated. “During a regular manual inspection for eighty-four cable stays. They found one problem on one stay. We did a quality control / inspection on just nine of those stays and found twelve issues. Some of them were actually issues that were caused by the inspectors or the painters. The painter’s bucket hitting the cable, which took the coating off, creating rust and pitting which ends up eating away at the steel,”
Despite the advances in technology, Seavey emphasized IPC’s solutions will not do away with human inspectors but allow them to conduct inspections in a safer manner and provide much more detailed results. IPC is also hiring the current experienced inspectors and re-training them to conduct the same inspections with the technology providing the asset managers the same reporting they are required to submit, just much more thorough and much less subjective.
“Within five years, I believe that robotic solutions will be the only way infrastructure inspections are conducted,” commented Thaler. With the infrastructure being in the shape that it is in and budgets what they are, updating inspection methods is critical to maintaining and improving our infrastructure. How do you know what to maintain and what can potentially fail if you cannot make accurate assessments? Outside of wanting to grow the company, our goal is to educate and protect the public in addition to providing asset managers worldwide with real quantitative data that reflect the current condition of their infrastructures.”
About IPC (Infrastructure Preservation Corporation)
IPC (Infrastructure Preservation Corporation) is a complex bridge inspection, nondestructive testing (NDT) and robotic engineering company. IPC utilizes advanced nondestructive testing and robotic technology to produce condition assessment reports that determine the condition and deterioration of today's infrastructure.