Lessons learned from proactive maintenance practices for concrete bridges

Published February 2023
Lead partner: SAC TNO

Maintenance deficiency such as weak diagnostics of concrete bridges, suboptimal maintenance strategies and shortage of resources for renovation and replacement accelerates the structural deterioration and increases level of risk. There is a clear need of sound procedures to improve management of bridges and to optimize utilisation of the narrow resources for conservation through an efficient asset management process.

Appropriate maintenance strategy shall be selected, with suitable activities such as (structural and operational) interventions being chosen for implementation. A condition-based maintenance strategy is desirable as it enables early identification of problems and risk issues following from the change of the condition of the structure or actions on the structure, potentially allowing early preventive actions to be taken, minimizing the overall cost of ownership. In the current practice, preventive maintenance strategies are increasingly used. However, current decision-making processes with respect to planning of maintenance activities are lacking a solid rational basis.

Decisions are often taken ad-hoc without duly considering the actual condition data, performance level and risk profile of structures and/or networks since the use of results of condition surveys, and safety and risk evaluations is far from optimal. At the same time best practice in latest technologies and methodologies prove the feasibility of accurate and cost-efficient inspections, testing, monitoring and assessment of structural performance and risk. Providing a consistent and harmonized basis for decision-making concerning the implementation of maintenance strategies in asset management is becoming essential.

The H2020 CSA IM-SAFE project explores the current best practice of preventive maintenance for concrete bridges across Europe. This contribution outlines the lessons learned and explores the vision developed in IM-SAFE project, which envisages the use of risk-based maintenance management system, employing condition-based maintenance strategies and using information from inspection, testing and monitoring to ensure reliability, safety, availability and economical operation over the assets’ lifetime.