Battery-free MEMS sensor to monitor French bridges

Battery-free MEMS sensor to monitor French bridges

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

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A consortium is to use a MEMS sensor from SilMach for battery-free monitoring of bridges in France.

The SIRCAPASS (Surveillance of Road Infrastructures by Passive Sensors) project is to deploy the latest MEMS sensor from SilMach in France on bridges.

The microsensors operate without batteries to monitor the condition of infrastructure for impact detection, fatigue monitoring, exceptional overload, and crack monitoring. The France 2030 programme is contributing approximately €1.7m to the SIRCAPASS project via BPI France.

France has nearly 250,000 bridges whose monitoring was previously carried out through human checks. Predictive bridge monitoring can now rely on instrumentation, shifting from a curative to a dynamic preventive approach. SIRCAPASS offers tools and monitoring methods capable of implementing metrics for better maintenance and safety.

Current offerings unsuitable for predictive monitoring as continuous vigilance over long periods previously required significant and demanding resources to maintain operational readiness., is now transformed into an adapted, transposable solution built around easily accessible data. Automation made accessible by the technological contributions of consortium members enables rapid deployment to detect critical events that may occur on bridges, while reducing operational costs and focusing on truly relevant data.

The microsensor costs a few euros and displays information directly through a visual indicator for a totally energy free version. There is also a version that can be interrogated from a short distance using a passive RFID chip. A third variant uses a link to a LoraWAN communication module that lasts ten years for remote monitoring and predictive monitoring.

By implementing a generic tool for preventive monitoring for stakeholders, the SIRCAPASS solution allows for operational surveillance of structures over long periods with increased resource efficiency.

The consortium includes AIA Ingénierie, Cerema, and Inria, supported by Vinci Autoroutes. The new generation of hybrid MEMS micromechanical sensors operates without a power source, capable of recording critical events in the life of a structure that could compromise its structural integrity.

“France 2030 marks a crucial step in SilMach’s development. We are proud to lead this public-private consortium with key actors capable of providing a technological solution for the safety of the French and our economy,” said Pierre-François Louvigné, Co-CEO of SilMach.

“We continue our development with strategic companies, forming a high-value consortium. Everyone knows the human and economic cost of a bridge collapse. Our innovations are here to provide a new response to a major societal challenge,” declares Jean-Baptiste Carnet, Co-CEO.

The microsensors focus on detecting and counting events that can directly impact structural safety. Event data is continuously stored at the sensor level, ensuring permanent access to information contained in the sensors with duplicated data collected and transmitted remotely. This perpetual “mechanical memory” ensures access to raw data in a directly exploitable format.

This allows monitoring for mechanical fatigue, joint and crack opening, vehicle overload, cable breaks, shock detection, etc. Information is transmitted remotely via microdata transmission means as needed. The efficiency of data collection coupled with reliable detection, without risk of drift, is a key characteristic.


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