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Fehmarnbelt set to be Europe's 'smartest tunnel'

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Denmark’s state-owned transport company Sund & Bælt is to implement IBM technology to help construct Europe’s “smartest tunnel”.

IBM’s Maximo for Civil Infrastructure tool has been developed to monitor ageing bridges, tunnels, highways and railways as well as track projects during construction.

The tool is powered by artificial intelligence to “manage and monitor infrastructure assets”.

Sund & Bælt is working with IBM to make the 18km Fehmarnbelt tunnel between Denmark and Germany Europe’s smartest tunnel. It is currently preparing start construction of what will be the world’s longest immersed tunnel.

“As our infrastructure facilities are ageing 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 costs to rise,” Sund & Bælt chief executive Mikkel Hemmingsen said. “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 organisations in the industry around the globe through this new Internet of Things (IoT) Solution.”

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 flaking, as well as displacement vibrations and stress.

IBM IoT general manager Kareem Yusuf said: “Bridges, tunnels, and roads provide access to family, job opportunities, education and more, but much of this infrastructure has already exceeded its designed lifespan.

“With Maximo for Civil Infrastructure, IBM is applying IoT and AI technology to help organizations improve the way these structures are monitored and managed.”

The 18km long Fehmarnbelt tunnel link between Germany and Denmark received the long awaited green light from the German government in February, paving the way for construction to start.

The immersed tube tunnel – Northern Europe’s largest construction project – will house a four-lane motorway next to two electrified railway tracks connecting the Danish island of Lolland with the German island of Fehmarn. It will be the world’s longest immersed tube tunnel and the world’s longest road and rail tunnel under water when complete.

The tunnel will be primarily formed of 79 individual 217m long sections – each 42.2m wide and 8.9m tall. 

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