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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

An Innovation and Knowledge Centre funded by EPSRC and Innovate UK

Studying at Cambridge

 

Transforming construction

Current 'Transforming Construction' projects 

1. Mixed reality for automated solutions for construction progress monitoring

2. Construction as Manufacturing (CaM)

The following projects also appear under the 'Performance Based Design' theme

3. Measuring axial shortening of a high-rise building using distributed fibre optic sensing

The following projects also appear under 'The Use and Development of Sensors' theme

4. Integrity testing of deep foundations using fibre optic methods

5. Settlement monitoring of heritage structures during Bank station capacity upgrade

6. Collaborative training network to apply advanced distributed fibre optic sensor technology

                                                                                                  

 

 

1. Mixed reality for automated solutions for construction progress monitoring
CSIC collaborators at the University of Cambridge Construction Information Technology (CIT) Laboratory are working with California-based company, Trimble and Microsoft to develop an automated inspection process for construction progress monitoring. Progress monitoring inspection is an essential part of any construction project and critical to maintaining workflow, productivity and performance targets. However, current manual inspection methods are laborious, time consuming and error-prone.Comp Vison Projects - Marianna

The Automated Progress Monitoring Inspection App uses Microsoft HoloLens and multiplatform game engine Unity to create a semi-automatic inspection method that aligns the 3D as-planned model to the real world as-built environment. This App allows inspectors to bring the design model out of the office and on to the construction site and marks the first time a 3D model of buildings and bridges has been taken off the screen and put on to the real structure. The HoloLens enables the wearer to walk through building construction sites and automatically see what is on schedule and what is behind schedule. Engineers can visualise Building Information Models (BIMs) in full scale at their offices or superimposed on the real structure at construction sites. Project contact is Laing O’Rourke Lecturer in Construction Engineering and CSIC Investigator Dr Ioannis Brilakis.

 

2. Construction as Manufacturing (CaM) As part of our work with the Institute for Manufacturing and the Engineering Design Centre at Cambridge we are undertaking a review of off-site construction approaches, capabilities and facilities - both in the UK and overseas. The aims of the project are to: capture key CaM industrial practices in manufacturing and design; identify key issues and challenges faced by CaM industry in manufacturing and design; and, capture case examples of effective/ineffective CaM. Thus far in the project, the team have visited major CaM plants in the UK and Germany and completed a project  designing a resilient supply chain by linking it with design elements along with six case studies from the UK and Germany.  Additionally, a Construction as Manufacturing workshop was held in Cambridge in September 2017 which was attended by key industrial project partners, and several white papers are being written covering manufacturing and design aspects of CaM. Project contact is Dr Tariq Masood, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Manufacturing. 

 

3. Measuring axial shortening of a high-rise building using distributed fibre optic sensing
This project involves a novel application of DFOS to continuously measure the progressive axial displacement of reinforced concrete columns and walls in a high-rise building during construction.  The approach is being trialled for the first time in the 50-storey Principal Tower, in London, with the monitoring ongoing throughout the building’s 17-month construction programme. Fibre optic (FO) installation is carried out by the contractor’s operatives, trained by CSIC, while CSIC analyses the data and provides the required information to the contractors and design engineers. The axial shortening data provided allows the contractor to adjust the column height presets in the reinforced concrete structure if necessary. No other monitoring technology is able to provide this information with such a spatial and temporal density. Principal Tower for projects

Temperature and strain sensing fibre optic cables are embedded in vertical load-bearing concrete elements, in four locations, as the building is constructed level by level.  Automated measurements of strain and temperature are taken twice every hour, which are then analysed by CSIC researchers to derive the axial shortening of the instrumented elements, along the whole height of the building, with sub-millimetre precision.  This process is planned to continue throughout the construction, following which the embedded system will become a permanent installation within the building structure, thus making it possible to assess the axial deformation of this tall building throughout its lifetime.

This is a demonstrator project that is intended to (a) help CSIC fine-tune the DFOS system design, installation and data processing techniques for monitoring tall buildings, and (b) give the construction industry confidence in using DFOS for similar applications. The trial at Principal Tower has enabled CSIC to develop this application of DFOS to a commercial readiness level, making it possible for tall building assets to be monitored both during their construction and throughout their lifetime. Project contact is CSIC Research Associate Dr Nicky de Battista.  

 

4. Integrity testing of deep foundations using fibre optic methods
CSIC has been testing the use of distributed fibre optic sensing (DFOS) as a thermal method to assess the quality of cast in situ concrete foundations. Thermal methods, which use the temperature generated during cement hydration to provide a continuous temperature profile, are an alternative to conventional point sensors. With DFOS, low-cost standard telecommunication fibre optic cables can be attached to several sides of the reinforcement cage of a foundation element in continuous loops. Several elements can be monitored at the same time on a single fibre optic circuit (single channel). Temperature measurements are obtained at close spatial intervals along the cage, and regular time intervals to record the evolution of the temperature profile of the element during concrete curing.

This approach has been put into practice on a number of projects with Cementation Skanska and the method reached commercial readiness in 2015, when Cementation Skanska’s own fibre optic technology system, CemOptics, was launched. The technique continues to be used by the company on an unprecedented scale for pile and wall integrity testing. Project contacts is Laing O’Rourke Lecturer in Construction Engineering and CSIC Investigator Dr Mohammed Elshafie and CSIC Senior Research Associate Dr Cedric Kechavarzi.

  

5. Settlement monitoring of heritage structures during Bank station capacity upgrade  St Mary Abchurch Projects CSIC is applying new-generation sensing techniques, including fibre optic strain sensing, point cloud and satellite displacement monitoring, to monitor the structural response of heritage buildings during tunnelling work for the Bank station capacity upgrade. The proposed tunnels are in close proximity to Christopher Wren’s St Mary Abchurch and George Dance’s Mansion House. There are significant uncertainties regarding the behaviour of the ground and building during the tunnelling works taking place between 2017 and 2021, making monitoring a necessary mitigation measure. Sensing data will be used to provide a critical assessment of analysis methods for tunnelling-induced damage in historic buildings and offer reassurance to asset owners and managers. Detailed data will allow informed assessment and timely intervention, if necessary, to avoid potential costly remedial action. Project contacts are Brunel Research Fellow Dr Sinan Açikgöz and CSIC Investigator Dr Matthew DeJong.

 

6. Collaborative training network to apply advanced distributed fibre optic sensor technology – (FINESSE) 

FINESSE (Fibre Nervous Sensing Systems) is a collaborative research and training network comprising 26 European universities, research centres and industrial partners with the shared aim of implementing distributed fibre optic sensor (DFOS) systems for a safer and more sustainable society. In recent years fibre optic sensing has created sustained market growth and attracted the interest of a diverse range of end-users including pipeline protection, oil and gas well exploitation, electricity, transport and fire alarms. However, the full potential of DFOS is restricted due to the lack of trained scientific personnel capable of creating the link between the sensors and potential applications. This challenge will be addressed by the Innovative Training Network that aims to educate and train 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the development of new optical ‘artificial nervous systems’ and to boost industry uptake of DFOS by technology transfer from academic research to the European optical fibre sensor industry. A substantial part of training will be dedicated to field experience in the private sector with the aim to drive business concepts and entrepreneurship and to encourage widespread industry adoption of the technology. Project contacts is Laing O’Rourke Lecturer in Construction Engineering and CSIC Investigator Dr Mohammed Elshafie.