Transport infrastructure is highly important on the EU Strategic Agenda. This infrastructure is facing real challenges due to ageing, rapid growth of traffic loads, and natural and man-made resilience threats. Safety risks have become critical in the recent years and manifested in major disasters caused a.o. by structural failures due to maintenance deficiencies. Optimal maintenance is only possible with the right policies and decisions enabled by timely and accurate information from monitoring. Unfortunately, monitoring is not adequately addressed in the existing standards (CEN TC/250 Eurocodes) and there are gaps in the monitoring practices at national level.
Therefore, IM-SAFE aimed to support the European Commission and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to prepare a new standard in monitoring for optimal maintenance and safety of transport infrastructure based on a comprehensive insight into the trends, challenges, best practices, and technology developments, including the integration of digital innovations. As the effectiveness of the new standard depends on societal acceptance, IM-SAFE simultaneously aimed to coordinate and enable public authorities and industries to contribute to standardisation, roll-out, and implementation. The key targeted results from IM-SAFE were: 1) formulation of an EC mandate to CEN; 2) consolidated technical background materials for CEN; and 3) active engagement of stakeholders and experts in the Community of Practice (CoP) and Standardisation Advisory Group (SAG).
The IM-SAFE consortium represented a European network of standardisation experts from research and higher educational institutes, large industries, SMEs, and a non-profit platform working on the transport infrastructure along the EU TEN-T and regional corridors. The consortium collaborated with leading infrastructure asset owners and operators as well as monitoring and maintenance companies. These stakeholders and the consortium together have initiated IM-SAFE.
To enable the transition from corrective/time based maintenance to risk-based maintenance of the transport infrastructure, the integrated technical concept of IM-SAFE is founded on three pillars:
- Smart integration of multi-scale technologies for monitoring the structures, which is substantially more effective compared to the conventional approach that solely relies on inspections.
- Data-informed risk and safety assessment for decision-making on asset management.
- Digitalisation to enable real-time data acquisition and data-informed safety assessment.
The insight into the future trends and demands, best practices and regulations, and technology developments, including the integration of digital innovations has been gained in course of comprehensive analysis and the needs and opportunities for standardisation have been elaborated, relevant for:
- smart integration of multi-scale technologies for monitoring of transport infrastructure & damage detection and diagnostics of structures,
- data-informed risk and safety assessment methods and techniques relevant for decision-making on maintenance of infrastructure in context of asset management
- digitalisation of solutions to enable (real-time) data acquisition and data-informed safety assessment
This analysis enabled to formulate a proposal for the scope of standardisation in structural monitoring, data-informed safety assessment and risk-based maintenance management and condition-based maintenance strategies. The scope covers three highly interconnected areas that shall undergo developments related to standardisation:
- principles of diagnostics of structures based on reviewing the structure- or network-specific data gathered from monitoring, which shall be establishing and formulated in a new standard on structural monitoring for transport infrastructure.
- approaches to integrating monitoring and diagnostics with evaluation of the condition of the structures and assessment of the structural performance, which shall be included in further amendment to the existing Eurocodes to enable data-enhanced safety assessment of existing structures,
- condition- and risk-assessment approaches, which shall be introduced in the through-life maintenance and management of the infrastructure and shall be specified in new standard for condition-based and risk-based maintenance of transport infrastructure.
The project findings have been fed into the first draft input for the EC mandate to CEN, which has been discussed with the Standardisation Advisory Board of the project. The policy discussions have been organised with the EC and CEN representatives, to discussed the current project outcomes and the foreseen project impact. The IM-SAFE Community of Practice has been organised, and over 30 contribution to workshops, webinars and public events have been made, directly involving in the discussions over 100 Public Authorities, Industrial and R&D Stakeholders, and over 300 experts in the relevant feeds.