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Risk classification and management of existing infrastructure

Existing infrastructures: management and classifying risks

The A3 Naples-Salerno motorway case study: application of experimental methodologies for managing existing infrastructures

Economic and social development is closely linked to a country’s services and one of these is, without any doubt, the highway infrastructure network. Today the absence of, or inadequate connection between cities, presents an important problem: firstly, in terms of safety for people benefiting from infrastructure, and secondly, in terms of continuity of services in order to guarantee a functional socio-economic network.

From this point of view, infrastructures such as bridges, viaducts and tunnels are undoubtedly the network’s weakest points.

This is why risk classification and infrastructure management with an intelligent approach is essential to ensure public safety. To do this it is useful to use specific bridge management software tools capable of monitoring every aspect of the maintenance management process. From understanding infrastructure decay over time to identifying assets that need repair or replacement.

In this article, I’ll be describing the A3 motorway case study. An important south Italy highway connecting Naples to Salerno. The research was conducted by CUGRI (Interuniversity Research Center for the Forecasting and Prevention of Major Risks) and SPN S.p.A. (Salerno Pompei Napoli S.p.A.). You’ll find the paper available for download at the bottom of this post.

Managing Existing Infrastructure | Centralized Storage

Managing Existing Infrastructure | Centralized Storage

Introduction to the guidelines for Risk Classification and Bridge Management

Bridges, viaducts and tunnels represent the weakest points of the Italian highway infrastructure network In fact, it often happens that the usability of tens of kilometers long roads, are compromised by some single ruined bridge. In addition to this, the morphology of the country must be taken into account, which leads to a very complex and articulating system, so much so that it has 180,000 km divided into approximately:

  • 6,700 km of motorways;
  • 19,800 km state roads;
  • 100,000 km run by provinces.

In order to have acceptable solutions to the various problems that may arise, the “Guidelines for risk classification and management, safety assessment and monitoring of existing bridges” was published in 2020, following the collapse of the Polcevera viaduct (also known as the Morandi bridge) in Genoa. They present a multi-level methodology that involves field operators and research centers & universities. One that is intended to carry out and validate a management process that goes from inspection to the bridge conditions evaluation. The main objective of this process is to acquire an adequate knowledge of the current condition of the infrastructure structural members. As well as their evolution over time in order to support management companies in decision-making processes. This obviously means ensuring service accessibility in full safety for all users.

Using Engineering software Platforms for Data Digitization

The guidelines propose the adoption of engineering software platforms for the infrastructure data digitization, in order to create a Building Management System (BMS). Therefore collecting and continuously updating the current state and main historical infrastructure data. In 2020, CUGRI (Interuniversity Research Centre for the Forecasting and Prevention of Major Risks) and S.P.N. S.p.A. (Salerno Pompei Napoli S.p.A.) launched an innovative surveillance management model based on a multidisciplinary approach that is based on Geography Markup Language (GML), BIM tools, interdisciplinary field inspections and multi-risk analysis.

Managing existing infrastructure | Maintenance scheduling

Managing existing infrastructure | Maintenance scheduling

Experimental methodologies and field training

The methodology tested involves the field training of inspectors, adequate development of BIM models accordingly to the above-mentioned guidelines and the requirements of the AINOP (National Archive of Public Infrastructures). As well as a preliminary expert evaluation process and data validation to support the maintenance management process. The study presents an innovative operating model for the surveillance process. It integrates field inspections and expert judgments in different disciplines using an appropriate bridge infrastructure digitization campaign leveraging both BIM and GIS technologies.

The A3 Naples – Salerno motorway

The study highlights the experimental methodology applied on the A3 motorway connecting Naples to Salerno in southern Italy. It exposes problems and opportunities, as well as a first interdisciplinary contribution to the object-oriented modelling of landslide risk mapping. In this way, an existing infrastructure asset management and monitoring model can guarantee the bridges and viaducts safety and full functionality across the entire Italian territory.

By taking advantage of new technologies such as BIM and GIS and their integration, it is now possible to achieve a much more detailed assessments of a bridges general conditions.
Taking into account the study, the surveillance activities are sub-divided into 2 macro activities as follows:

  1. Scientific Support and Applied Research: provides multidisciplinary activities and experiments involving numerous experts in different scientific-disciplinary fields belonging to the CUGRI. Thus applying a multi-level approach of the LG20, up to Level 2. In particular, the main objectives of the plan are:
    1. the training of management personnel, or other companies in the group, responsible for management and verification processes;
    2. the development of a BMS platform to support the application of the LG20;
    3. the search for new criteria Guidelines to implement the objectives of Level 3, through innovative monitoring methodologies classifying priorities in a sustainable way. Such as, for example, the use of a BIM IoT Platform;
    4. the LG20 (L1,L2) result comparison with the previous approach;
    5. the revision of the “Surveillance Management Manual for the A3 Naples-Pompei-Salerno motorway”.
  2. Surveillance and Inspection: activities taking place in compliance with the mandatory regulatory framework. In particular for the assets that make up the infrastructure elements. In this case, the main objectives of the plan are:
    1. inspections according to the new LG20 for all MG3 infrastructures (L1 implementation) by June 2023;
    2. assessment of the Attention Class for all MG3 infrastructures (L2 implementation) by June 2023;
    3. on-site inspections of assets, conducted by specialized inspectors trained and coordinated by CUGRI.

Inspection and monitoring activities shall be implemented through an integrated operational model. One aimed at ensuring the dynamic quality control of the inspection process, the consistency of the description of the monitoring results and the correctness and homogeneity of the observed degradation phenomena interpretation.

If you’d like to access more information, you can download “A Methodological Framework for Bridge Surveillance“. This is the research paper published by CUGRI and S.P.N. S.p.A. and describes the entire study in detail.

Managing existing infrastructure | Bridge report

Managing existing infrastructure | Bridge report

Integration of interdisciplinary inspections and advanced technologies

The integration of interdisciplinary inspections and the use of advanced technologies such as BIM (Building Information Modeling) and GIS (Geographic Information System). It clearly allows a greater understanding of infrastructure conditions thus facilitating the identification of any critical issues. Thanks to these technologies, it is possible to develop more effective and targeted maintenance and intervention plans. Hence minimising risks and guaranteeing a safe service to road users.

Multi-risk analysis for comprehensive infrastructure management

The adoption of a multi-risk analysis allows to evaluate and monitor different factors that can affect the infrastructure safety. Such as geological, hydrological and seismic risks. This approach makes it possible to identify any dangerous situations in a timely manner. Hence taking the most appropriate measures to mitigate them.

All the elements that make up infrastructure highway networks (bridges, tunnels, viaducts, etc.) identify themself in Infrastructure management by a unique code called IOP. This is an ID that must remain unchanged throughout the infrastructure life. With the new guidelines we tend to obtain a multilevel and multidisciplinary knowledge process. This allows a more efficient maintenance management work.

Consider guidelines a standard. In particular one that takes into account the different aspects of the maintenance work, the surrounding environment and exposure. So as to assess the risks on infrastructure.

Opportunities and challenges of the proposed model

The proposed operating model presents several opportunities, including better knowledge of infrastructure conditions. This carries a greater efficiency in maintenance management and a reduction of risks associated with the degradation of structures. However, the implementation of this model also entails some challenges. Such as the one need to adequately train inspectors and to integrate different skills and technologies employed in the process.

The Guidelines for Risk Classification and Bridge Management represent an important step in the direction of a safer and more efficient management of existing infrastructure in the country. Through the adoption of innovative methodologies and the use of advanced technologies, it is possible to improve the structure conditions knowledge. Therefore optimizing the maintenance processes thus reducing the risks for road users  safety. In addition, testing this model on concrete cases such as the A3 motorway offers an important opportunity to assess its effectiveness. Thus making any improvements with a view to its large-scale deployment possible.