“It is always a pleasure to attend these workshops and see our academic partners take on board our constructive comments.” John St Leger, Director at Strainstall and member of CSIC's Steering Group
The partners were welcomed by CSIC’s Head, Professor Robert Mair, who explained that the afternoon’s purpose was to highlight the latest progress on fibre optic development with an aim to engage CSIC’s industry partners and invite comments from them, in an endeavour to move forward together in the world of fibre optic sensor development.
Professor Kenichi Soga, CSIC co-investigator and Professor of Civil Engineering, went on to explain that CSIC is working on fibre optic sensing research that will be taken and used by industry, with the intention being that in 5 years time everyone in industry will be using fibre optic sensors. Professor Soga stated, “to do that we need to ensure proper installation, robust methods, and develop a best practice guide, as well as outreach to other sectors who could benefit from using fibre optic sensors.”
Fibre optic sensor work was presented and discussed using examples from CSIC’s recent field demonstrations, including: London’s National Grid Tunnel; London’s Crossrail project; Thames Water deep tunnel excavation; a fibre optic monitoring scheme at Farringdon Station, London; and the Shell Centre, Waterloo, London.
The issue of dealing with the data from fibre optic sensors was also addressed with updates about tools for software analysis and 3D visualisation capabilities.
This was followed by a discussion with CSIC’s industry partners about the industry acceptance of software applications and how they might be embedded and disseminated.
Another key area of CSIC’s work is the standardisation of the distributed fibre optic strain sensing systems it uses, and the training of industry in order that these technologies are confidently and correctly used.
Dr Cedric Kechavarzi, Training and Knowledge Transfer Manager at CSIC, described the training aspects of fibre optics and importance of fibre optic standardisation to ensure that the components used are robust enough and that the installation and use of the technology follows best practice. He explained CSIC’s intention is to summarise all the findings into a best practice guide, which will be supplemented with training courses for CSIC’s industry partners. These will focus on specific applications, such as piles and thermal piles, to be used by industry.
He also invited feedback from CSIC’s industry partners to ensure that CSIC meets its aim of successful knowledge transfer between research and industry: “It’s essential that together we identify what we need to be thinking about when it comes to standardisation, to ensure industry will benefit from it and these methods will get taken up by industry.”
Dr Jennifer Schooling, CSIC Director, talked about CSIC’s scale up and standardisation work, which is a key element in delivering solutions that will have strong industry uptake. As part of this work CSIC is offering the opportunity for industry partners to second staff in to the CSIC Deployment Team to work on site demonstration projects, standardisation and best practice. This will bring a number of advantages to CSIC, including making sure that the centre deliver outputs that industry can use, and helping to disseminate research into industry. For industry partners there is an opportunity to gain a more detailed insight into the technologies and methodologies CSIC are working on.
Phil Keenan, CSIC’s Business Development Manager, introduced the Centre’s newest acquisition, a state of the art Brillouin Optical Time Domain Reflectometry (BOTDR) distributed strain and temperature analyser from Neubrex, Japan. “This specialist instrument is world-leading”, explained Phil. “It allows us to acquire full strain and temperature datasets along an extended length of many kilometers of standard telecoms fibre, almost in real-time – whereas before it could take 5-10 minutes to complete the same task.”
Phil went on to explain that CSIC are evaluating the Newbrex system’s ability to capture distributed strain data at sampling frequencies, which will, for example, enable new sensing opportunities in measuring bridge structures during traffic loading.
“We've tested our system at 10Hz with excellent results, and having conducted a sensing-needs survey with our industry partners today it is clear there is a need to measure structures such as bridges dynamically, and 20 Hz is the measurement frequency target."
It was an informative and useful workshop. John St Leger, a Director with CSIC industry partner, Strainstall commented:
It is always a pleasure to attend these workshops and see our academic partners take on board our constructive comments. We return to the next workshop three months hence, and can see that our suggestions have been carefully investigated and implemented where appropriate.
Industry Representatives present:
Duncan Nicholson – Arup
Echo Ouyang – Cementation Skanska
Malcolm Winterburn – itmsoil
Phil Robinson – Laing O’Rourke
Yu Sheng Hsu – Mott MacDonald
Ian Brixey – Skanska
Sam Stacey – Skanska
Matthieu Bourdon – Soldata
John St Leger – Strainstall UK Ltd
Mohamad Alserdare – CH2M Hill