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'Smart Infrastructure' Initiative At London Bridge

8 May 2014

The project to make London Bridge Station fit for 21st century traffic flows, is being used as a working laboratory to test and prove advanced techniques that will improve the efficiency of future construction methods.

Costain is an industry partner of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) at Cambridge University. CSIC’s mission is to translate the results of research into practice and, in doing so, help transform the future of the UK’s construction and infrastructure sectors.

CSIC has 40 such industry partners that provide a variety of types of support and has received £9.5 million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Technology Board for its role.

Jennifer Schooling, director of CSIC, describes Costain as “a very supportive and active partner” with which it has a close relationship and says that “London Bridge station is providing an excellent test ground for a number of our techniques and methods.”

These include installing fibre-optic sensors on masonry arches under the station that provide a more detailed understanding of their response to piling works at the station.

“That’s progressing well,” said Costain Design Manager, James Aitken. “The aim is to get more detailed information on the arch deflection profile.” Results from the sensors will be cross-checked with Costain’s own methods of measuring the arches’ movements, “so they can hopefully say it’s at least as good as what we’re using”.

Another system under test to check its reliability is a wireless noise-monitoring sensor network, which is being placed alongside Costain’s existing equipment for comparison purposes. “Once they have validated it, that equipment could become very useful for future projects, as the microphones don’t have to be wired up,” explained James.

CSIC is also trialling innovative computer vision techniques to capture the construction processes and compare the data with design.

Co-operation between Costain and CSIC is close: “When they say they have an idea about something that might be useful, we assist them by talking through their ideas with them,” said James. “We can say, ‘Yes, that’s a real problem,’ or ‘No, it’s not a problem, but if you focused on this…’”

Added Jennifer: “CSIC is keen to work with industry partners to ensure that its research has practical outcomes that can be used by industry – that’s what’s so great about the relationship with Costain, it brings the opportunity to get real industry feedback.”