Browse through NEXCO's Newsletters to learn more about what we have been up to! New issues are released monthly with information concerning recent projects and achievements. Go to contact section to subscribe.
Imaging a safer future - No 25 - July 2020
Civil structure inspections have a distinct culture. Many field inspectors have been at their jobs for decades, bringing with them decades of experiential knowledge about what to look for, how to document, and what recommendations to make. Something that is shared in this culture details, in both the structural owner and consultants working environments. The integrity, accuracy, and validity of the data being presented in reports are undoubtedly critical in understanding the next steps, which probably include design recommendations. Questioning whether a road section should be paved this year or next, whether a pier section should be blasted out and remolded, whether a bridge deck needs a new overlay or no all of these decisions hinge on specifics that required a substantial amount of detailed investigation. Especially in prestressed concrete members, where just 0.2mm of crack width makes a huge difference in response measures.
Though written reports, an album of pictures snapped with an iPhone, and hand-drawn polygons in a CAD file can communicate detail, these methods of reporting all pass through at least two subjective filters: the first from the inspector themselves, and the second through the analytic team making the final design recommendations (who may not have been in the field themselves). While the experience and collaboration of many talented minds fuel inspection reports, some detail is lost in the written or verbal transfer of findings. The culture of pouring over inspection reports needs a bit of juice, and we think this should come in the form of more detail.
Subjective filters end up reducing what we are most reliant on detail. We have observed many external cases where the actual condition of the structure often becomes scrutinized in follow-up meetings, or the location and nature of certain deficient findings become convoluted. Taking advantage of strong development in image sensors, NEXCO has already been providing owners with scaled deficiency maps with imagery so clear, there is little question about the as-is condition of structures following their creation. The question - where was that crack again? - will cease to exist: all that is required is looking back at the maps.
Taking the concept of creating a digital replica a bit further, how can we preserve the collaborative culture of making design recommendations post-inspection? NEXCO is hosting deliverables online that can be notated collaboratively from anywhere. With an HD composite image of a surface in front of them, our team members can all discuss the same view remotely. A field team who just took data in Pennsylvania can upload it and look at it together with our team lead in Virginia, who in turn can invite the client to join in as well and offer comments. The possibilities are expansive, and so is our willingness to bring this service to owners across the US. To learn more about how we can create detailed and collaborative reports for your team, click the button below to visit our website.
To gain a better understanding of the volume and duration of roadway repair projects that have gone over expected time windows (and probably over budget), we took a broad look at news briefings from three local DOTs over the course of July 2020. We identified projects that reported continued road and lane closures and noted which project involved asphalt and concrete patching, inspection, or rehabilitation.
During July, we found an average of 25 publicized projects that impacted road users for longer periods than expected. The majority of these projects were delayed by a week or more, suggesting a scope that went a good deal over the original estimation. One major reason for the delays lies in a misestimation of the repair work during the inspection process.
Road patching projects offer an illustrative example. An inspection report comes back saying a 100mi stretch of road had recurrent spalling and alligator cracking, for instance. The inspection team and/or owner anticipate the costs for repair and bid out a patching project. The problem comes when the repair contractor pulls up a bit of asphalt and discovers there was extensive, undetected damage to the subsurface. Not to mention the total area of cracking and spalling has gotten worse since the first inspection and was under-estimated. Now the project is under-budgeted, and the road stays closed for an extra month.
Many state DOTs who have started to use in-house or contracted mobile scanners now know how this can be avoided: by calculating rather than estimating. Taking the total surface area of detections automatically or semi-automatically produces that magic number needed for repair projects, and helps keep projects on schedule, and in scope.
To review our previous newsletters, conference presentations, and technology, please follow the links below:
Imaging a safer future - No 24 - June 2020
The International Road Federation (IRF) is an organization that focuses on the study and improvement of road systems worldwide. It periodically hosts webinars which contribute to knowledge sharing about roadways, and even has a historical compilation of past webinars that can be accessed at any time. NEXCO is a long-time member of the IRF and has participated in many of its events (in-person and online).
On July 1st at 11:00am EST, our President and CEO, Mr. Masato Matsumoto, will host a webinar titled: Non-contact Bridge/Roadway/Tunnel Inspection - Adapting to the New Normal. He will be speaking about how the inspection of bridges, roads, and tunnels can be carried out safely and efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the topic of continuing construction and repair activities has been actively discussed, the topic of how to approach hands-on inspection is lacking direction. In his presentation, Masato will show how mobile and long-range scanning can help alleviate not only COVID-related measures but inspection practice in general. He will discuss how to reduce field hours and on-site workers required by traditional hands-on inspections. Given that traditional methods make it difficult for inspectors to secure social distancing with colleagues, it will be imperative to implement new methods for collecting data in the field to uphold safe working conditions.
You can register for the webinar and access more information about the presentation, its contents, and the rest of the IRF webinar series. If you are unable to attend, you can always catch a recording in the IRF webinar archive or on our NEXCO YouTube channel.
NEXCO provides imaging services for structures from the inside-out. A recent project conducted in the state of Connecticut demonstrated the efficacy of scanning of all bridge members in - one fell swoop - because we were able to generate full structural crack maps that pinpointed exactly where cracks were occurring and how they were propagating. The project further bolstered our ability to represent crack conditions in accessible formats and served as a representative example of how this technology benefits long-term monitoring.
The bridge featured box girders, complex piers, and a decktop. The box girders and piers were both imaged from the exterior and interior, and the correlation between crack patterns were overlapped to observe through-cracks and the direction of crack patterns. Accurate mapping and the study of significant crack patterns were the main focus of the project, but with the use of hand-held IR cameras, we were also able to notate delamination and leakage as well. In the very same deliverables, leakage could be viewed alongside cracks, spalls, patching, and so forth. Overall, an accuracy rating upwards of 90% for the identification of crack widths was observed.
The selection of adequate test methods and standard procedures generate comparable results, aid the classification of the different deterioration degrees, and the urgency for corrective or preventive interventions. Adequate inspection and evaluation criteria conducted periodically assures reliable and representative data ensuring the maintenance plan of bridges in a safe and economic way for the public. Two years down the road, end-users will be able to refer to this comprehensive dataset and see how fast cracks are propagating. They will be able to measure the total length cracks traveled, and the width they took on.
To review our previous newsletters, conference presentations, and technology, please follow the links below:
Imaging a safer future - No 23 - May 2020
U3S uses a dual-camera connection to take visual and IR pictures at the same time. The visual and IR cameras are positioned on a cart, boat, tripod, or hand-held harness to adapt to various types of access. No matter what is beneath that bridge (with the exception of canyons) we will be able to capture it. For example, many bridges carry roads over bodies of water. U3S can still map from a boat or barge with stabilizing equipment and proprietary image stitching techniques. When crossing overland, the terrain below is often rugged, but U3S can still be carried with a harness on-foot. Best of all, when the terrain is flat, we can capture the data on a cart, which makes both fieldwork and post-processing very fast.
When all is said and done, U3S can effectively capture entire bridge surfaces from the inside out (as mentioned in the previous article on the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge). Additionally, our past projects and case studies have shown that the resolution and crack detection capabilities of U3S far outshine those of current drone imaging. With stable and high-definition shots, we are able to map cracks with 0.1mm width in ideal conditions, 0.3mm widths in most other conditions. The average UAS system will be able to find cracks at a minimum of 1mm, and this does not support the AASHTO 0.3mm threshold between insignificant and moderate cracks.
Differing Calls on Bridge Condition in Florida:
How Structural Assessments Can Reach Different Conclusions
One possible explanation is the high degree of subjectivity in past and current inspection practice, which can lead to potential concerns going unchecked. While the response demonstrated upon discovery of the cracking and corrosion was phenomenal, we can clearly see how significantly such measures impact the public and the owners. We believe this case serves as a representative example of how pre-screening structures with rapid NDE technology can identify areas of concern with greater objectivity. By doing so, costly emergency response measures can be reduced.
Generally, these types of deficiencies do not occur overnight, but they are difficult to detect in early stages and document by hand. We believe it would highly benefit owners to implement inspection technology that preserves data on the entire structure. Imaging and mapping technology have the capacity to map scaled deficiency locations onto 2D or 3D records of the structure (in the form of images, CAD, or digital twins).
As the use of scanning technology expands in practice, we hope to see a steep reduction in the occurrence of critical findings, and utilize better prediction models to find and address corrosion in its early stages.
To review our previous newsletters, conference presentations, and technology, please follow the links below:
Imaging a safer future - No 22 - April 2020
Those involved in work on or near roadways have a sobering story to tell about work zone fatalities. These tragedies blindside us brutally, unforgivingly, and persistently. Fatalities in the U.S. average 700 to 800 lives per year, and ss a result, best practices for roadside work continue to improve. Unfortunately, even with current best practices in place, no amount of safety training can prevent the unpredictability of driving patterns and the increased risk associated with setting up a work zone in the first place. Studies published by FHWA and numerous State DOTs show that work zones inherently introduce risk due to a disruption of traffic patterns, leading to variable reactions of drivers.
Luckily, these safety risks can be greatly reduced on all fronts. On the contractor/agency front, rapid scanning practices will reduce the overall time a work zone is set up because the locations of deficiencies will be known beforehand. Rapid scanning systems now can detect and locate all known places of concern on a map, which can be accessed on-site. On the highway user front, vehicles with enhanced safety features, such as proximity sensors, lane divergence detection, and auditory alert systems can contribute to safer driving.
Everyone has the right to safe work, and we want highway workers across the globe to know that they have this right. With informative data in-hand, roadside work on both inspection and construction projects could decrease to a very small fraction of what they currently are. We have already seen this take place in several bridge inspection projects along the east coast, and have brought roadway workers in the field back to the safety of their offices to analyze the very same road or deck using high-definition visualizations.
Not far from the catastrophic 2018 bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, a second major Italian bridge failed on the 8th of April in the town of Aulla (between Genoa and Florence). Fortunately, only two people were injured as a result of the collapse, as much of the country is on lock-down from the COVID-19 outbreak. Should this have happened at any other time, the number of people impacted would have been much higher.
Taking a look at the probable causes of the collapse, engineers are a bit baffled as to why each and every span buckled. The structure was an arch bridge with multiple reinforced-concrete arch spans. It seems likely that one of the spans experienced a compression failure and, like dominoes, brought each neighboring span down in a chain reaction. Though a very rare occurrence, this failure demonstrates how the health of one member can significantly affect its surroundings and in this case, the entire structure. Commentary thus far points to inadequate maintenance, which could certainly be a byproduct of inadequate inspections.
In the face of grim news such as this, we stress the importance of digital records in investigating structural health at all points during a bridge life cycle. Repeated failures such as these can be prevented with the knowledge of what damages are present in the structure and of how fast they are propagating. Digital imagery shows this undeniably, making it a non-negotiable need for bridge engineers as they continuously observe crack and spalling patterns.
Imaging a safer future - No 21 - March 2020
NEXCO provides imaging services for structures from the inside-out. A recent project conducted in the state of Connecticut demonstrated the efficacy of scanning of all bridge members in "one fell swoop" because we were able to generate full structural crack maps that pinpointed exactly where cracks were occurring and how they were propagating. The project further bolstered our ability to represent crack conditions in accessible formats and served as a representative example of how this technology benefits long-term monitoring.
The bridge featured box girders, complex piers, and a deck top. The box girders and piers were both imaged from the exterior and interior, and the correlation between crack patterns was overlapped to observe through-cracks and the direction of crack patterns. Accurate mapping and the study of significant crack patterns were the main focus of the project, but with the use of hand-held IR cameras, we were also able to notate delamination and leakage as well. In the very same deliverables, leakage could be viewed alongside cracks, spalls, patching, and so forth.
The selection of adequate test methods and standard procedures generate comparable results, aid the classification of the different deterioration degrees and the urgency for corrective or preventive interventions. Adequate inspection and evaluation criteria conducted periodically assures reliable and representative data ensuring the maintenance plan of bridges in a safe and economic way for the public. Two years down the road, end-users will be able to refer to this comprehensive dataset and see how fast cracks are propagating. They will be able to measure the total length cracks traveled, and the width they took on. Also, using the previous biannual inspection report, we were able to validate the results of the scanning data by comparing the past and present conditions of cracking. The validation showed over a 90% accuracy rate.
The Cincinnati Union Terminal underwent major renovations under the management of GBBN Architects. The work involved structural repair in a historical preservation context.
To gain a better idea of the condition of structural components and surfaces, a 3D laser scanning technology and photogrammetry provider offered their services to create a digitized copy. The team of architects and structural engineers involved in the renovation work put this digital record to use by expediting their work by reducing back-and-forth between the office and site.
We applaud this wonderful demonstration of how visual imagery was taken of a structure can lead to long-term benefits for repair and rehabilitation efforts. Now, the agency owner and future contractors can refer to this complete and detailed record for their planning purposes without setting foot on the site. NEXCO is also projected to begin an interior subway station scanning project in the near future and will enable owners to access the scanned data remotely.
To review our previous newsletters, conference presentations and technology, please follow the links below:
Imaging a safer future - No 20 - February 2020
NEXCO provides an image-based comprehensive crack map for concrete bridge structures. One of the most frequently asked questions from our clients is "Can you tell us which crack is the through crack from the deck to the underside?". The answer follows in the paragraphs below:
In our continual efforts to develop new and useful products for clients, our technical team works on ways to improve data acquisition and data representation. This latest development benefits clients who need to review structures with multiple structural layers, like a bridge superstructure. Using this tool, clients can turn layers of superimposed deficiency maps on, off, or even taper opacity to see how deficiencies stack up on top of each other. Cracking patterns in stacked structural layers can be compared to detect through-cracking, notice similarities in patterns, and trace the paths of water infiltration between layers.
As a result of recent applications, our team of analysts discovered wide cracks in bridge deck tops that directly correlated with efflorescence cracks in the ceiling of box beams below. Likewise, the team found cracks in the bottom surface of box beams that continued into the soffit below. In these instances, the team marked the presence of efflorescence and active leakage (if visible or detected by infrared thermography).
The technology not only provides a powerful solution for bridges, but in buildings as well. The study of interior versus exterior building envelopes could uncover and map the state of leakage. It can also help determine the severity/depth of cracks spanning certain layers. For more information about our layered deliverable format or to see it in action, contact us below!
A daunting yet vital task, proper risk assessment can act as the fulcrum between project success and failure. In the lifetime of a structure, its construction, periodic inspection, maintenance, and renovation, accurate forecasting ensures the safety of end-users and lengthens the usable life of structures. But as many experienced project leaders know, there is no such thing as a foolproof risk forecast.
Two recent articles published by the American Society of Civil Engineers bring this topic to the forefront. Catherine Cardno, PhD, Editor-in-Chief Laurie Shuster, Managing Editor Margaret Mitchell discussed how there is a growing need for adaptation and a competency for "working in gray zones" when answers about risk are not in plain "black and white". They suggested that, on one hand, there is a need to accept the reality that not all variables can be predicted with precision. On the other hand, there must be every effort taken to close the gap between guesswork and carefully premeditated prediction.
To bring this imperfect science closer to a practiced and manageable feat, NEXCO specializes in capturing the overall "snapshot" conditions of structures. Scanning procedures can help to fill these knowledge gaps quickly. As visual and infrared applications do not require direct access to a structure and they capture large surface areas at once, we believe they can be the cornerstone to improving risk assessments, whether they be implemented during early or mature project phases. Rapid NDE scanning also serves as a powerful option for post-disaster evaluations, because the total area of newly developed deficiencies can be quantified and compared to previous inspection reports. The detection and comparison of damages pre and post disaster can be a powerful tool for rehabilitation, thwarting cost estimation mishaps upfront.
To review our previous newsletters, conference presentations and technology, please follow the links below:
Imaging a safer future - No 19 - January 2020
Infrastructure Investments Boost Opportunities for Inspections
Optimizing Transportation through Nexco-West USA
Transportation infrastructure projects across the US were fueled at the beginning of this year by packages such as the - BUILD Discretionary Grants - from the USDOT. The investment will go to projects modernizing roadways, bridges, and highway structures. As new structures are built and existing structures are improved upon, the need for pre and post inspections remains highly pertinent.
Following the building of a new bridge, for example, it is necessary to monitor cracking and delamination in early stages that could point to unseen errors in the construction. During this period, the use of rapid NDE data collection allows owners to document these relevant developments.
The same logic applies when adding on extra lanes to an existing bridge. It is necessary to evaluate the influence of the changes by collecting imagery before and after the addition. Having a complete visual record of the structure before and after, you can begin to answer questions like: How does cracking develop after the lanes are added? Is stress being distributed as intended in the new members? High definition IRT and visual scanning satisfies these questions like no other technology on the market.
To learn more about this recent round of infrastructure funding, visit the USDOT web post. To optimize your inspection project work this year, visit our markets page for information about how NEXCO can help.
Digital twins are influencing large-scale project management by introducing a slew of short and long-term benefits. They facilitate project planning in their early stages, capture information about the status of current projects, and provide resources for inspectors in decades, to come. If a digital twin is the living organism that - eats - the data fueling these megaprojects, then it will inevitably die if it is not fed new data.
NEXCO is like a supplier of - food - for digital twins. To keep them alive and well, we are able to feed them the inspection data. The imagery we take in the field can be transferred into various forms, such as 2D and 3D models, links to accessible online viewers, comprehensive reports on structural deficiency status, and more. When accessing the twin (or any repository), this data can be viewed and easily comprehended for informed decision-making.
The use of digital twins is enriching infrastructure projects across the globe, such as in Genoa, Italy, on the grounds of a bridge collapse in 2018. As their use expands to infrastructure projects in the US, NEXCO will collaboratively continue to keep them thriving. In fact, NEXCO would be the perfect - chef - with our innovative technology to supply project management.
To review our previous newsletters, conference presentations and technology, please follow the links below:
Imaging a safer future - No 18 - December 2019
Nexco West-USA looks forward to 2020 as our year of innovation!
Did you know mobile bridge scanners also enjoy traveling south during the cold of winter? While snow blows into states up north, we take our DTSS to states like Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, or Texas to continue our scanning work.
In sum, there is no need to let up on scanning simply because of the season. If you know of bridges in need of evaluation and reside in a region which sees less temperature change during the winter, give us a call! What could be better than gathering information on structural safety and avoiding the bitter cold at the same time?
Many readers may know of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) which hosts an Annual Meeting during the second or third week in January. If not, take a look at their website here. This year, the event will span from 1/12 to 1/16 and is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. NEXCO will be exhibiting, so please do not forget to visit our booth (Booth number 745). We will be showing representative inspection data collected from this past year, so it will be a good chance to take a look at it up close. Knowledgeable staff members will be present and answering questions about our technology.
Around that very same time, NEXCO will be celebrating its 9th Anniversary! We have enjoyed many memories over the past decade. As can be viewed in our projects page, we have serviced over one hundred private and public firms in their ongoing efforts to inspect transportation structures. It is our goal to multiply our constituencies by adding to our repertoire of scanned bridges, roads, airport runways, dams, buildings, tunnels, and more.
Imaging a safer future - No 17 - November 2019
This fatal collapse struck the news in October, calling for a re-evaluation of inspection and maintenance practices that failed to preserve structural integrity. A month later, some engineering review has brought forth some explanations as to what went wrong.
The day prior to the collapse, the 20-year-old bridge was subjected to a typhoon and a 3.8 magnitude earthquake. Initial investigations point to corrosion of suspension and main stay cables, warping of expansion joints, and perhaps a stretching of the intended maximum load capacity. Water, especially saline, can be harmful when exposed to the cables, and seems to experts who are involved in the investigation to be the most likely cause. Reports of infrequent inspection and questions into the depth of inspection were noted.
Our roots in Japan have familiarized us with the devastating effects of natural disasters on civil structures. Strategic review of the numerous disasters which NEXCO-West highways, tunnels, and bridges have weathered emphasize the need to perform immediate reactionary inspection alongside periodic, in-depth ones. It is not an easy task to obtain accurate and telling data about these structures in a timely manner, but rapid NDE methods make this task less daunting. Higher storm surges and hurricanes impacted by the climate crisis are getting stronger in the US as well and studies are being conducted to make future infrastructure more resilient. We will insistently and diligently continue our efforts to obtain structural evaluation data so that history like Nanfangao does not repeat itself, and inspectors can provide better insights into critical structure states.
The International Road Federation (IRF) provides resources for roadway structural owners globally. Officials, practitioners, and researchers gather from all parts of the world at this conference to share their experiential knowledge. As a proud member of IRF, NEXCO contributes yearly to this prestigious event by exhibiting and presenting on NDE industry topics.
Our CEO and President, Masato Matsumoto, presented on the application of our DTSS system to various bridge decks in the Bridge Maintenance Strategy session. DOT officials and practitioners from multiple states asked questions about the system and the results of its applications (see our projects page for more details).
We saw many familiar faces visit our booth and were able to further the continuing dialogue on improving inspection practices for roads, bridges, and more. For information about IRF and our activities during the events, visit the link below.
Imaging a safer future - No 16 - October 2019
NEXCO-West USA is proud to have sponsored the 11th annual Association for the Management and Operations of Transportation Infrastructure Asset (AMOTIA) Conference this year. The event was characterized by a sense of community, where industry and transportation agency leaders were sharing their knowledge and experiences in a relaxed and friendly environment. We would like to thank the Association and the organizers for the success of the event.
NEXCO-West would also like to thank those who visited our booth, attended our panel discussion, and welcomed us into this exceptional community. We hope to continue strengthening the relationships made during AMOTIA 2019 and look forward to the 12th annual Conference held here at National Harbor in the Washington metropolitan area.
In the meantime, NEXCO-West USA will be attending the following events in the upcoming months: -IRF Global R2T Conference & Exhibition (Nov 19 - 22, Las Vegas, NV) -ISSA Las Vegas and LA (Nov 18 - 21, Las Vegas, NV) -Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance (VTCA): Dialogue with the Northern Virginia District (Nov 7, Fairfax, VA) -World of Concrete 2020 (Feb 4 - 7, Las Vegas, NV)
NEXCO-West USA's Infrared and visual technology Is widely applied on roadway bridge decks to easily evaluate surface and subsurface defects. Our flagship service, the Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) can also be adapted to inspect railway bridge decks and super structures.
DTSS has been successfully applied on railway superstructures. The IR and Line Camera system can be mounted on a railway vehicle and rearranged to accommodate the target structure geometry to offer the same benefits- namely safe, high-speed, comprehensive scanning of concrete surfaces- as the traditional DTSS.
DTSS is the most advanced concrete assessment system, providing deficiency maps with the highest accuracy on the market to facilitate the maintenance decision making process.
Imaging a safer future - No 15 - September 2019
The West Nippon Expressway Company, NEXCO-West USA's headquarters, was recognized as a finalist for one of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering's (IABSE's) highest distinctions, the Outstanding Structure Award (OStrA). The OStrA is presented to the "most remarkable, innovative, creative, or otherwise stimulating structures" in the world. The Award Ceremony was held in New York City on September 4, 2019.
NEXCO-West's Mukogawa Bridge, located in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan was recognized for its distinctive, innovative, and sustainable design. The first bridge to combine the butterfly web and extradosed structure, the Mukogawa provides an elegant and unique solution for increasing seismic resistance and allowing rapid construction. The 1,451 ft bridge was built using high strength fiber reinforced concrete in the main girder webs. The fiber reinforcement eliminates the need for steel reinforcement, reducing the overall cost and the weight of the structure by 20%.
IABSE is a Conference for the world's Structural Engineering community to share ideas and discuss the future of engineering. Founded in 1929, IABSE continues to be the key source of knowledge exchange in the structural engineering community. NEXCO-West remains an active participant in the events organized by IABSE.
NEXCO-West USA is sponsoring the 11th annual Association for the Management and Operation of Transportation Infrastructure Asset (AMOTIA) Conference in Orlando, Florida from Sep. 30th to Oct. 2nd. AMOTIA is an association of private sector transportation industry leaders assembled to better assist the public sector with the management and operation of transportation infrastructure assets.
NEXCO-West USA's Engineering Research Manager, Rei Huttunen, will be appearing as a panelist in the "Innovation Panel" from 8:45 AM on Oct. 2nd to discuss how NEXCO's Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) can move the needle on current bridge deck top inspection practices. Please come see the Panel and visit us at our tabletop booth outside of the meeting room.
As a member and sponsor of AMOTIA, NEXCO-West USA is dedicated to providing the transportation agencies with faster, cheaper, and safer solutions for their infrastructure inspection needs.
Imaging a safer future - No 14 - August 2019
The second generation of internet-based applications, Web 2.0, is characterized by more user-generated content and the growth of social media. Social media facilitates the sharing of information, knowledge, thoughts, and ideas in various means, and it has become a place to bring awareness as well as to democratize emerging technology. Our feeds relay emergent topics in the fields of transportation, civil engineering, and NDE.
Stay tuned to how we apply our NDE technology on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. See shots from the field and finds from our NDE data. Finally, get insight from our engineering experts on inspection practices, transportation policy, and more.
Make sure to follow us on your preferred social media:
NEXCO-West USA attended the Minneapolis, MN Digital Summit conference to broaden our marketing knowledge base. We were fortunate to listen in on several well-informed presentations. As a result, we renewed our encouragement to implement new ways to get the word out about our causes: increasing highway safety, reducing long-term project costs, improving structural life-cycle efficiency, and more readily delivering relevant data into structural owners' hands.
Historically, NEXCO-West USA has been a developer of innovative imaging methods. Taking what we learned at the summit, we strive to not only develop, but also ingrain our technology into inspection practice across the US. We believe that our mission and values can help catalyze the transition from conventional inspection practices to rapid digital inspection practices.
Imaging a safer future - No 13 - July 2019
Lane closures and work zones are a nuisance for both commuters and the workers who work within them. In our heads, however, we understand that it is a necessary evil... Somebody has to maintain the roads and bridges we drive on. While the workers who keep our roads safe are our unsung heroes, the work zones themselves may be more 'evil' than we realize.
According to the FHWA, a work zone crash occurs roughly every 5 minutes in the United States. Just setting up a work zone increases the chance of an accident by roughly 25 percent. Every week, 12 fatal work zone crashes occur that can result in the death of workers, passengers, and/or pedestrians. If we can save even one life through the work that we do, it would make it all worthwhile.
There is one group that we know we can help. Bridge deck and road pavement inspectors currently employ hammer sound and chain drag methods to detect delaminated pavements. Visual inspection is used to map cracks on the roads. These require lane closures, increasing the risk of a fatal accident occurring for both inspectors and drivers. NEXCO-West USA's Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) accomplishes both delamination and crack mapping without the need for lane closures. The DTSS is able to scan the road at highway speeds, utilizing infrared thermography and high definition visual technology. Because there is no need for lane closures, this would be creating a safer working and driving environment. DTSS could be the difference between having a healthy road and an avoidable tragedy.
Click the link below to view the DTSS brochure.
From September 4 - 6, International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering - IABSE - is holding its international congress on the topic "The Evolving Metropolis", in New York City.
NEXCO-West USA's paper, entitled "Bridge Health Monitoring by Infrared Thermography", was approved by the Scientific Committee and will be discussed by an expert panel on September 4, during the "Camera-Based SHM Bridge Techniques" session. Though Infrared Thermography (IRT) has been implemented in Japan to scan the underside of bridges for the past 20 years, the technology has found a new home in the United States due to its capacity to accurately generate images at highway speeds.
The session will offer an in-depth technical description of our technology as well as details on the successful validation projects in Virginia and Pennsylvania. IABSE NY promises to be a place to exchange knowledge of the latest technologies and an opportunity to advance the discussion on affordable and sustainable solutions to tackle the problems of our aging infrastructure.
Click below to view the IABSE website
Imaging a safer future - No 12 - June 2019
NEXCO-West USA team provided a demonstration campaign aiming to offer a proof-of-concept evaluation pertaining to the capabilities of its Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) over the Vicksburg Bridge, in Louisiana.
The infrared scanning process was gotten during day and night hours, a standard approach the company adopts to minimize any possible noise and to increase the likelihood of getting the closest actual delamination scope. The data was obtained in one day and the deficiency analysis for the entire 12,974' bridge was concluded in one week.
Bridges are crucial nodes within the largest arterial road. DTSS provides the means for a faster and safer condition assessment as it does not require lane closures. When the technology is properly applied, it provides more accurate deliverable, more effective decision-making as well as better allocation of financial resources for repairing, if necessary.
NEXCO-West USA joined Nondestructive Testing workshops
German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)
NEXCO-West USA sent two engineers to the capital of Germany, Berlin, from June 12 - 18 to attend the Nondestructive Testing workshops organized by the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). NEXCO continually aims to acquire the latest in NDT knowledge, encouraging its employees to be creative and open to new ideas in tackling today's structural inspection problems.
We are confident in our own IR inspection technology, but we also acknowledge that there is always room for improvement; not only in the technology itself, but also in its application. NEXCO believes that great service can only be provided when the workforce grows with NEXCO, because after all, the people are the company.
Imaging a safer future - No 11 - May 2019
During May NEXCO-West USA conducted a validation test to ratify the capabilities of the Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) on a bridge crossing the Mississippi River between the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. The unique design of this cantilever bridge combines two structural types, truss and girder.
In just an hour, NEXCO-West USA engineers successfully inspected the whole bridge without any lane closure. The data analysis is conducted off-site, eliminating the inspector's exposure to the traffic. The DTSS evaluation determines the deficiencies reliably and follows the strict guidelines defined in the last edition of the AASHTO Manual for Bridge Element Inspection
Evaluating bridge deck conditions swiftly and accurately is increasingly critical to optimize the appropriate time, span and approaches for preventive maintenance and repair.
Click the link below to view the DTSS brochure.
NEXCO-West USA will be attending the International Bridge Conference (IBC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland. This event, sponsored by the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP), will be a great opportunity to discuss about the last advances in the bridge inspection field.
With more than 125 exhibitors expected to be there, this offers the perfect venue to network across the bridge community. The Conference Registration Desk will be located on the Ballroom Level of the Gaylord Resort and is open:
Monday: 7:00am-6:00pm - Tuesday: 7:00am-5:00pm - Wednesday: 7:00am-3:00pm
Please visit us at booth 335 located in the corner near WSDOT booth.
Imaging a safer future - No 10 - April 2019
NEXCO-WEST USA ATTENDS BRIDGE AND TUNNEL INSPECTORS' CONFERENCE 2
MODERN SOLUTIONS FOR MANAGING AN AGING INFRASTRUCTURE
The 2019 Bridge and Tunnel Inspectors' Conference, formerly known as the PNW Bridge Inspectors' Conference (PNWBIC), was held in Hilton Portland Downton from April 23 to 25. Hosted by Washington State University, the event featured speakers from FHWA, state DOTs, the private sector, academia, and other bridge-and-tunnel-related institutions. The theme of the Conference was Modern Solutions for Managing an Aging Infrastructure. The information presented focused on innovative, yet highly practical techniques for safety inspections of bridges and tunnels.
NEXCO-West USA was in attendance and we had an opportunity to present our very own solutions for inspecting bridges, tunnels, and other concrete structures at our booth. We were also excited to learn about the new regulations, perspectives, and technologies that will soon impact our field. For those who visited our booth, thank you. We really appreciate your interest in what we do. After attending the Conference we are, now more than ever, sincere in our conviction that the service we provide is absolutely necessary.
Many presentations showcased concerning critical findings that could have been uncovered by high definition scanning. We provide affordable, high speed scanning that can detect, interpret, and identify the exact location of deficiencies. There are no need for lane closures, and no inspectors exposed to the threat of oncoming traffic. NEXCO-West USA is committed to providing safer bridges and tunnels, and is confident in its ability to do so.
This April, NEXCO-West USA was part of the annual SEBPP meeting in Baton Rouge, LA. This conference is a forum to discuss bridge preservation strategies, and to promote the most updated information on efficient and effective tools that extend highway and bridge lifecycles. The industry of structural analysis benefits when its participants come together to share and disseminate information and methodology on inspection, maintenance, and construction practices. The event is supported by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in cooperation with The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Asset Management.
There, NEXCO-West USA showcased its Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) to better serve South East transportation system's users. The state-of-the-art technology employs a combination of infrared and line cameras to scan a variety of concrete surfaces at speed while also providing high resolution and details. Earlier in 2017, NEXCO was the prime consultant for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and used DTSS to successfully scan 20 bridges in the state.
NEXCO's DTSS results have proven useful in understanding the real, as-is condition of bridge decks. Utilizing real-time condition data allows for better planning and prioritization of maintenance activities. In terms of operational decisions, it assures the highest level of accuracy at the lowest cost. Predictive maintenance is vital to infrastructure health. NEXCO stands ready to deliver timely results without compromising on attention to detail.
Click below to learn more.
Imaging a safer future - No 09 - March 2019
At speeds as fast as 70mph, Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS) simultaneously captures infrared thermography and high definition visual datasets. This combination of IR cameras and line cameras forms a dual imagery that supplements and validates each other, allowing for rapid processing and delivery of accurate results. Thus, Nexco's system facilitates users to scan a multitude of bridge decks, roads, and other concrete surfaces that require significant celerity and a higher rate of accuracy and detail.
Our President & CEO, Masato Matsumoto, was the lead author on a technical paper which compares different thermal cameras used to analyze bridge decks; this study found that the use of a cooled camera model minimizes false positives and blurry imaging. The development of NEXCO's analysis practices paves the way for intelligent, data-driven bridge maintenance and asset management. The paper was presented at the Annual IRF Global Conference in November 2018
Click the link below for further details of Matsumoto et al.'s abstract.
This past February, NEXCO-West USA's team traveled to the Gulf area to verify and validate the use of DTSS. During a 3500 miles trip, NEXCO-West USA successfully scanned 11 bridges in 4 different states. The total bridge deck distance analyzed was 35,576 ft, with a scanning time average of 1.09 minutes per scanned mile. By mid-March, Nexco's team of engineers detected major and minor spalls, delaminations, unsound patches, pattern cracking, and moderate to severe cracks in all of these bridges.
Current inspection methods cannot keep up with the aging and deterioration of infrastructure in the United States. NEXCO-West USA stands ready to meet this growing need for predictive maintenance plans through our novel analysis methods.
Click on the next button to get more information about DTSS.
Imaging a safer future - No 08 - February 2019
Southeast States Bridge Deck Scanning Demonstrations
Positioned to Meet the Structural Consulting Market
During the latter half of February, NEXCO-West USA engineers traversed the Southeast in its mobile deck scanning vehicle, DTSS. In addition to capturing the beautiful scenery, the engineers also captured the condition of the concrete bridge decks they passed over.
At the request of several State DOT representatives, NEXCO-West USA completely imaged 18 bridge decks across the states of Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. The data will be delivered back to structural owners free of charge as part of the demonstration campaign.
Moving into the month of March, NEXCO-West USA seeks to contribute their findings to the commendable effort of FHWA and its affiliates who continually contribute to the Long Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) online portals. NDE data from inspection projects across the nation are accessible here, and NEXCO-West USA aims to supplement the results with their advanced imaging capabilities.
Click the link below to find more information on our Deck Top Scanning System (DTSS)
NEXCO and Honda representatives visited the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to discuss furthering the development and validation of Honda's new vehicular sensor. This vehicle-mounted-sensor detects road roughness (IRI), textural deficiencies, and other failing sections of roadway surfaces.
NEXCO-West USA developed the Smart-Eagle to measure IRI at speeds up to 60mph. The Smart Eagle roadway inspection system was successfully used to verify and validate the accuracy of Honda's vehicular sensor.
Click the link to view the press release.
Imaging a safer future - No 07 - January 2019
The 98th annual meeting for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) was held from Sunday, January 13th to Thursday, January 17th 2019.
The meeting covered all forms of road safety from driving techniques to sustainable construction materials for roads, and included over 13,000 professionals in infrastructure from more than 70 countries. NEXCO-West USA exhibited at TRB this year, showcasing our various hardware and software systems. NEXCO also celebrated our eighth year that they have been in business, hosting many honored prominent guests from NDE scanning, engineering research, and partner organizations. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth or visited our office!
Click the link below to view our exhibitor profile!
Starting February, NEXCO-West USA will be conducting mobile scanning of bridge decks targeted by FHWA to support the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) program. We also are demonstrating the advantages of our mobile scanning technology by comparing our inspection results to visual and NDE inspection reports available in InfoBridge.
We are conducting a two-week long demonstration tour spanning six gulf-region states during the month of February, to include Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
NEXCO-West USA is a leading company in utilizing infrared and visual technology for concrete structural evaluation. We have worked with VDOT, PennDOT, FDOT, MDTA, and NJDOT to provide inspection services. Click the link below to watch a video of Jeff Milton, Bridge Preservation Specialist at VDOT, describing our involvement in the SHRP2 R06A Project.
Imaging a safer future - No 06 - December 2018
The Infratech 2018 Conference was held from December 6 to December 8, 2018 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Site). The conference was organized jointly between Nikkei Inc. and the Japanese Congress for Infrastructure Management.
Topics discussed and exhibited during the conference ranged from cutting edge repair and reinforcement techniques to asset management and infrastructure investment. More than 55,000 people from government agencies and private sectors attended the event.
Masato Matsumoto, NEXCO-West USA's president & C.E.O. was invited to present his work at the conference stage in the Tokyo Big Site. He spoke about his experience of applying latest Japanese technologies to the infrastructures in the United States, France, and Brazil. He said that it is not easy to convince infrastructure owners of the benefit of new technologies, especially when introducing tech from a different country. However, it is necessary to facilitate this exchange and tackle with the issues of aging infrastructures for international benefit.
The 98th annual meeting for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) will be held from Sunday, January 13th to Thursday, January 17th 2019. The meeting has historically covered all modes of transportation, and is expected to include over 13,000 professionals in infrastructure from more than 70 countries. With more than 5,000 presentations over 800 sessions and workshops touching on policy, administration, academia, government and industry alike, TRB is a conference dedicated to the advancement of safety and innovation of infrastructure.
NEXCO-West USA will be in attendance at the conference. We encourage you to visit our booth to learn about our most recent advances in non-destructive testing (NDT) for bridge, road and tunnel inspection. Find us in Booth 744! To locate us, enter the conference hall and proceed to the back. Take a left at IDS North America's booth; we are located adjacent to the Federal Railroad Administration. We will be presenting the state-of-the-art solutions that secure NEXCO-West USA's reputation as the global leader in NDT structural inspection technologies.
Imaging a safer future - No 05 - November 2018
NEXCO-WEST USA TO PRESENT AT IRF GLOBAL CONFERENCE
A Global Summit of Road Innovators and Decision-Makers
The IRF Global Road2Tunnel Conference was held from Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 at the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Hotel Resort. Delegates, contractors, and research institutes representing over 40 countries were in attendance, including NEXCO-West USA.
Masato Matsumoto, NEXCO-West USA's president & C.E.O., presented his work during the Japan Session, which was hosted by the Japan Road Association. He spoke about the application of innovative ideas and technologies for infrastructure inspection, maintenance and rehabilitation.
Matsumoto emphasized the importance of utilizing innovative technologies and products to tackle the issues of aging infrastructures. The IRF Global Conference was the perfect opportunity to learn of the latest technologies outside of the country, and facilitate the international technology exchange in infrastructure management. Our organization is uniquely positioned to serve as a bridge between the United States and Japan to exchange cutting-edge technologies for mutual benefit.
Click the link to view Mr. Matsumoto's presentation from the Japan Session:
The Second Japan Infrastructure Investment Forum was held on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 at the Indiana Convention Center, and was sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
The forum consisted of a series of lectures and networking opportunities to promote infrastructure for Japanese and American businesses. The convention emphasized the importance of investments in infrastructure both in Japan and in the U.S., public prviate partnerships (PPP) in infrastructure, and Japanese participation in U.S. projects.
Hiroyuki Kato, NEXCO-West USA's Vice President, presented on the latest infrastructure inspection technologies for maintenance, and was a participating panelist in a discussion revolving around the possibilities of Japanese companies participating in infrastructure projects located in Indiana. Click the links below to learn more about NEXCO-West USA's advances in non-destructive testing (NDT) for roads, bridges, and tunnels.
Imaging a safer future - No 04 - October 2018
The IRF Global Road2Tunnel Conference & Expo is an event where research, development and investment intersect to build a worldwide network of civil engineers committed to advancing techniques in road infrastructure. The conference will be held from November 7th, 2018 to November 9th at the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Hotel Resort. Topics discussed throughout the three days include autonomous vehicles, asset management, road safety and the future of public-private partnerships (PPP).
NEXCO-West USA will be in attendance at the conference. We encourage you to visit our booth to learn about our most recent advances in non-destructive testing (NDT) for bridge, road and tunnel inspection. Find us in Booth A44! To locate our booth, enter the exhibition hall and proceed along the wall to your left; we are on the fourth row and the second poster presentation you will see, adjacent to Highway Care from the UK. We will be presenting the state-of-the-art solutions that secure NEXCO-West USA's reputation as the global leader in NDT structural inspection technologies.
The use of line cameras in conjunction with IR cameras to detect water infiltration and efflorescence results in a dual imaging system that supplements and validates each other's datasets while also allowing for a greater level of analysis in non-destructive tunnel inspection. The placement of our cameras allows for a nearly 360-degree vision of the tunnel, ensuring that the greatest amount of information can be captured during a single scan. The compact nature of the design allows it to be transported, set up and taken down with relative ease.
Under current, conventional methods in tunnel inspection, it is neither efficient nor safe to manually survey an entire tunnel. Using NEXCO's tunnel scanning system valuable man-hours are saved and inspector safety is maximized
Click on the link below to download more information about TSS.
Imaging a safer future - No 03 - September 2018
The 50th annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association (MWJA) conference was held in Hilton Omaha from September 9 to 11 to discuss how trade and international partnerships can grow between Japan and Midwestern states. Five U.S. Midwest State governors and three Japanese prefecture governors, as well as representatives from prominent Japanese companies such as: Kawasaki, Toshiba, Honda, Toyota, Kikkoman, and Mitsubishi were in attendance.
Masato Matsumoto, NEXCO-West USA's President and CEO, was invited to the conference as an Executive Panelist to discuss Transformation in Infrastructure. He presented the partnership between Lindsay Corporation and NEXCO's which has succeded in bringing the RoadZipper System to Japan. This transaction has been instrumental in strengthening U.S.-Japan ties by sharing knowledge and innovative technology.
The U.S. and Japan both face the problem of an aging infrastructure. Government agencies must overcome procurement regulations, which is one of the main obstacles to facilitating the application of innovative technologies/products to the transportation infrastructure. Therefore, sharing technology, knowledge, and innovative solutions is critical for international cooperation and success in the global market.
NEXCO offers a simple method of scanning roadway surfaces at high speeds while ensuring precise data collection. The SmartEAGLE (Asphalt Pavement Scanning System) uses both laser and visual camera systems mounted on a vehicle providing users with Cracking, International Roughness Index (IRI), and Rutting information.
The SmartEAGLE allows for a more versatile approach to roadway surface analysis. Its compact nature and easy-to-mount rig to a truck means that airport runways, bridge decks and highways with any high-traffic concrete surface can be surveyed with ease and accuracy.
Click on the link below to download the SmartEAGLE brochure.
Imaging a safer future - No 02 - August 2018
NEXCO-West USA's Mobile 360 Degree Imaging System (M360IS)
A Safer, More Intuitive Way of Inspecting Structural Surfaces
NEXCO has developed a new service for inspecting metro tunnel systems. The Mobile 360 degree Imaging System (M360IS) is a high-resolution 360 degree spherical video system that allows NEXCO to map structures such as concrete tunnel surfaces. The M360IS renders a VR-view, which enables the user to walk-through the stream of high-definition images as if he/she is visually inspecting the site themselves.
Visual inspections can be made faster and safer with the System. Once the M360IS maps the site, either mounted on a vehicle or carried as a backpack, the inspector can examine the video from the comfort of their desk. During tunnel inspections, this feature is especially invaluable since it minimizes the time that inspectors are exposed to potential danger. Once the data set is created, inspectors can identify problem areas on their computers and focus-in on areas that may need further analysis on-site.
NEXCO is currently working to establish georeferencing capabilities for the M360IS which will associate each individual pixel of the image to real-world coordinates. To learn more about the M360IS, click on the link below, or find our brochure in the Downloads section under the News tab.
Driven by our wish to improve the infrared scanning technology, we performed a comprehensive research project in 2014 aiming to analyze which type of infrared camera is more accurate to inspect concrete structures. In this research project, different models of micro-bolometer and cooled sensor infrared cameras were compared to evaluate their accuracy in application to bridge deck scanning.
In the laboratory phase of this research project, stationary infrared images of test concrete pieces were taken from 3 different angles. The resulting images were analyzed using our proprietary software, IrBAS, to assess the efficiency of each camera. It was found that the cooled sensor cameras, especially the InSb ones, detect delaminations better than the micro-bolometer cameras. Even from a 45 degree angle, the cooled sensor cameras were able to clearly detect delaminations while the micro-bolometer cameras produced false detections. This effect can be easily explained considering that the cooled sensor cameras have a higher sensitivity than the micro-bolometer ones. As a conclusion, in laboratory conditions, cooled detector infrared camera performance was better.
Click on the link below to download the laboratory test research report if you want to know all the details on this project.
In the field tests the cameras were attached to a moving vehicle to perform inspection on Haymarket Bridge's southbound shoulder. The inspection was performed at a constant speed, 30 mph. The locations of defective areas were already known, making the site ideal for testing the capabilities of the cameras. It was found that cooled sensor infrared cameras captured high quality images while micro-bolometer cameras captured blurrier ones. The higher quality of the pictures taken with the cooled sensor cameras result in a better analysis of the data without false detections; however, the blurry pictures of the micro-bolometer cameras provoked some false detections of delamination. This phenomenon can be explained considering that the cooled sensor cameras have a shorter exposure time than the micro-bolometer ones. As a conclusion, in actual field inspections, cooled detector infrared camera provided more accurate detection. The analysis results were also compared with conventiona
Click on the link below to download the field test research report if you want to know all the details on this project.
Imaging a safer future - No 01 - July 2018
NEXCO - West USA is proud to issue its first online newsletter to all of our cherished clients, partners, guests, and acquaintances. Stay updated on our company's application and development of NDE technology by tuning in to our updates!
NEXCO's innovative inspection techniques incorporate image various roadway surfaces from a truck-mounted system. We combine visual and thermo graphic data to detect deficiencies within the surfaces. Translating cooled infrared thermography (IRT) into deficiency maps helps us to analyze subsurface concrete defects. High-speed scanning is highly beneficial for network-level bridge inspections. Data accumulated at the network level allows bridge owners to identify problematic bridges and further narrow down detailed inspection efforts. Owners also benefit from increased efficiency in maintenance budget allocation.
At highway speeds, lane closures and obstructive forms of traffic control are avoided. Not only does this prevent traffic jams, but it also keeps inspectors and motorists out of harm's way. Our technology also minimizes the subjectivity that is introduced in traditional sounding techniques, where the inspection results are heavily reliant on the knowledge and experience of field inspectors.
Currently, we are working with FLIR, the global leader in thermal imaging infrared cameras to provide a faster, safer, and more effective way of inspecting concrete bridge decks. Click on the link below to learn more about NEXCO.
In 2017 NEXCO successfully completed the deck scanning of 20 bridges in 7 different districts in Virginia. The project was a part of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2). A quick overview of the project was introduced by Jeff Milton (VDOT
Watch the full conference by clicking on the link below to see the state DOT officials' insights and opinions on IRT technologies.