IBM developing AI-powered IoT software to help manage aging infrastructure


IBM is collaborating with Danish state-owned infrastructure owner/operator Sund & Bælt (S&B) to develop an AI-powered Internet of Things (IoT) solution designed to help prolong the lifespan of aging bridges, tunnels and highways.  

Deteriorating infrastructure is a global challenge. Organizations struggle with aging facilities, the difficulty of physical inspections and high cost of continued maintenance. According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) 2019 Bridge Report, in the USA, 47,052 bridges are considered to be ‘structurally deficient’. 

The new Maximo for Civil Infrastructure system further extends IBM’s Maximo software portfolio while providing deep industry and task-specific functionality to help organizations manage, monitor and administer their infrastructure assets. The partnership combines S&B’s operational expertise as owner of some of the world’s largest infrastructure with IBM’s Maximo Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions, to help extend the lifespan of infrastructure and reduce overall maintenance costs.

Maximo for Civil Infrastructure consolidates various sources of data including maintenance and design details, near real-time IoT data generated from sensors placed on structures, wearables from workers, stationary cameras and drones, and weather data from The Weather Company, to help clients identify and measure the impact of damage such as cracks, rust and corrosion, as well as displacement vibrations and stress.

By implementing predictive and prescriptive maintenance strategies using Maximo APM coupled with AI visual recognition tools developed by IBM Research, organizations can endeavor to model, map and monitor each structure. This can help them perform rapid assessment to prioritize maintenance decisions that target critical repairs, and address compliance issues in order to help them meet regulatory obligations.

S&B’s infrastructure portfolio includes Denmark’s Storebælt Link and the 10 mile-long (16km) Øresund Link between Denmark and Sweden. The company is currently preparing construction for the world’s longest immersed tunnel, the 11-mile (18km) Femern Belt Fixed Link between Denmark and Germany, which S&B is aiming to make as Europe’s smartest tunnel. The company is trialling the Maximo software to help it more efficiently operate and maintain this crucial public infrastructure.

“As our infrastructure facilities are aging and traffic increases, it is crucial for us to take in new methods for keeping the structures safe and operational at all times while avoiding rising costs,” said Mikkel Hemmingsen, S&B’s CEO.

“Collaborations with world leading tech-partners such as IBM can help us secure the future operation of our link, and at the same time we are pleased that the know-how from our operation can benefit organizations in the industry around the globe through this new IoT solution.”

Kareem Yusuf, general manager at IBM Watson IoT, commented, “Bridges, tunnels, and roads provide access to family, job opportunities, education and more, but much of this infrastructure is aging. With Maximo for Civil Infrastructure, we are applying IoT and AI technology to help organizations improve the way these structures are monitored and managed.

“Sund & Bælt’s industry expertise, coupled with our 30-year investment in Maximo capabilities for the management of physical assets and our Maximo Asset Performance Management portfolio, can be leveraged to help organizations with their maintenance and operation of aging infrastructure worldwide.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.