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First of its kind remote concrete inspection device could save industry millions

Home > News, views & events > First of its kind remote concrete inspection device could save industry millions

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28 June 2023

With support from CENSIS, a recent project from the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Nuclear Research Centre has developed a one-of-a-kind platform for the remote detection and classification of faults in concrete structures. The device could lead to increased inspection speed, accuracy, and safety, allowing major asset owners to make significant cost savings.

The platform named ‘ALICS’ (Adaptive Lighting for the Inspection of Concrete Structures), combines advanced methods in image capture, scene lighting and colour with state-of-the-art techniques in artificial intelligence to detect faults in civil concrete infrastructure, including nuclear power plants and bridges.

Inspection of these concrete structures is critical. ALICS’s remote, technological solution could allow civil asset managers to bypass the risks and challenges associated with the manual inspection of a growing catalogue of assets, and as a result, to avoid outages and closures that can cost in the region of £1M per day.

The extensive benefits of remote and automated inspection have attracted strong interest from industry. While the research has been led by University of Strathclyde’s Dr Marcus Perry, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering, ALICS has been driven forward by industry partnerships with Cavendish Nuclear (Babcock), Altrad Babcock, Bruce Power, EDF Energy and InspectaHire. These partnerships have provided both financial and in-kind support.

With this significant industry backing, the ALICS team approached two Innovation Centres, CENSIS and BE-ST (Built Environment-Smarter Transformation), for further partnership. These allowed the project to access both Centres’ extensive knowledge and networks while enabling the innovation centres to work together on their first joint funded project.

Marcus Perry, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, says: “Partnerships between industry, Scottish innovation centres, and universities are different. They allow research to be designed, funded, and delivered with continuous dialogue between all three parties. This sustained feedback means industry partners can steer our research direction more effectively. This ensures the academic delivery team deliver not only world-leading science, but high-impact engineering outputs and products with real world applications.”

Rachael Wakefield, Business Development Manager at CENSIS, said: “The ALICS project is a notable example of how imaging technology can be used to make critical infrastructure and the built environment safer. Inspection is rightly an important part of maintaining assets, and with innovative technologies like this, it can be done continuously and more efficiently. This is also a great demonstration of how, by bringing all the expertise and skills we have in Scotland together, we can take on global challenges.”

Fiona MacDonald, lmpact Manager at BE-ST, said: “BE-ST is delighted to support such a collaborative and impactful R&D project that can enhance not only safety within the industry, but the efficiency and commercial performance of invested partners all while creating a technology with the potential to truly transform operational performance within our built environment.”