For transportation network, asset management is an essential factor as it is key for the prosperity of developing countries like India. This is particularly true for bridges which form a critical part of the network, which are prone to many factors like age related deterioration, fatigue due to voluminous traffic, heavy loaded vehicles, extreme weather added with the effects of climate change.
These factors would affect the infrastructure and threaten to put the socio-economic fabric of the country to risk. An effective and efficient Bridge Management System can address to these factors in sustaining these bridges in safe and functional condition for the full designed life and probably beyond.
IBMS for protecting Indian bridges
Initiatives in this direction have been taken in India, in the form of Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in 2015 for all the bridges and culverts of National Highways of the country. The project has been operational over the last three years and is likely to complete the first phase of work wherein the inventory, condition survey, inspection and testing are in progress and based on the data analysis and condition ratings of the components like deck slab, superstructure, substructure, scour and waterway adequacy and functional adequacy all the bridges in distress have been categorized on the basis of parameters such as:
- Bridges recommended for reconstruction
- Bridges recommended for load restriction
- Bridge recommended for major repairs
- Bridge recommended for minor repairs
Attending to these large volumes of above mentioned bridges in the form of bridge rehabilitation intervention, distress mitigation, by different custodians is a major challenge which needs capacity enhancement in the areas of institutional frame work, condition survey, testing protocols and repair systems ably supported by the rehabilitation industry.
The department is gearing up towards of the primary tasks of these voluminous repairs works for the bridges, to ensure that the bridges are sustained at safe level of operations. The efforts are to improve the system would meet this challenge of sustaining these bridges in safe operational condition in the form of research inputs of deterioration modelling, routine inspection detailed inspection, routine maintenance and detailed maintenance modules, using the output of IBMS to stream line the heavy vehicle movement clearances for ensuring effective transportation system of the country.
IBMS is presently covering bridges of the National Highways which is not more than 3% of Indian road network. Unless every state government is taking this e-governance with bridge asset management system for all the bridges of the country cannot be sustained at safe level of operations with minimal costs today and as the saying goes “A stitch in time saves nine”.
IBMS is totally digitised system, where in the data collection on field is done on a tablet loaded with software and is transmitted to the server in headquarters which is validated and analysed using the IBMS software, by the team of experienced bridge engineers to generate the reports and updates to the department for necessary action.
Similar initiatives of asset management systems are essential for all infrastructure projects like roads, wherein few projects are in progress in the country and whereas, all heavy industrial plants like power plants, steel plants, oil industries, irrigation projects, Airports, production units also need similar systems for the civil and steel structures for sustaining them in safe level of operations over a long period.
The author is Managing Director of IDDC Engineers Pvt Ltd.