Canterbury company's hi-tech bridge work
Wed, 26 Sep 2012 6:24p.m.
By Annabelle Tukia
The Norwegians are building a bridge that is described as an engineering wonder, and a Christchurch company will be making sure anyone who uses it is safe.
The Hardanger Suspension Bridge – nicknamed 'Heaven’s Walkway' - is like San Francisco’s Golden Gate, but is longer, and crosses a steep fjord.
When construction of the bridge is completed it will be one of the longest in the world, and it will also be one of the safest thanks to technology provided by Canterbury Seismic Instruments (CSI), a Canterbury company.
“Our equipment is designed to measure movement in different directions and when there’s a wind blowing it, when it’s moving, it will tell you how far it’s swaying in the wind,” says Helen McLeod, chief executive of CSI.
And that is important information given the Hardanger Bridge spans a deep fiord and will have walkways for pedestrians as well as carrying cars.
Monitoring boxes will be fixed at points along the bridge, recording seismic shakes or wind gusts, so the bridge's safety can be immediately assessed.
“It will send back automatically an email or text SMS message with how much the movement actually is,” says Ms McLeod.
Designing monitoring systems for a suspension bridge is a first for the Canterbury company, but its technology is already in use around the world monitoring the movement of building's during earthquakes.
Christchurch Airport has the boxes installed and its chief executive says they've been the key to getting the airport open after major shakes.
“This enables us to find out what has happened at a particular part of the airport, of course when you have a quake the Richter scale means nothing - what’s a seven in Lyttelton may not have any relationship to what we have so this is very important,” says Jim Boult.
The Hardanger Bridge, with its Canterbury innovation, is set to open early next year.
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