Bridge Analysis: Are We Data Managers or Engineers?
- Publication no: ABC-AAI103-14
- Published: 22 October 2014
The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) commenced a program to theoretically assess the capacities of existing bridges on the freight network in order to develop a family of assessment ratios to facilitate rapid bridge assessments for permit vehicle applications.Assessors from consultancies undertaking the capacity checks were required to model a bridge to carry a variety of reference vehicles and check the structural capacities of bridge components to determine those which were critical. There was pressure to keep the cost of the assessments down and hence young, inexperienced engineers undertook the majority of the work.The results were inconsistent across assessors and some were unexpected considering the design classes of the bridges. The assessment work was reviewed and some serious issues were uncovered.Errors were found in modelling and analysis, capacity calculations and application of third party software. The usage of 3D modelling and moving load generators was problematic. Many assessors used spreadsheets to automate member structural capacity calculations and process the large amount of data generated and these were a major source of errors. Quality checking was not effective and showed a lack of understanding of fundamental engineering principles.This paper outlines some of the issues uncovered by the TMR reviews, some of the approaches taken to minimise errors in future assessments and examines the implications of technology and training of engineers, for bridge analysis, assessment and design.