The new partnership combines IBM’s digital solutions with Sund & Bælt’s twenty years of experience with maintaining some of the world’s largest bridges and tunnels, in this case the Storebælt fixed link.
The new product, which IBM and Sund & Bælt are in the final stages of developing, is known as Maximo for Civil Infrastructure and is an Artificial Intelligence-based Internet of Things solution.
The new digital tool will make it possible to precisely assess when and to what extent a bridge or tunnel requires maintenance. In short, the system can analyse a bridge or tunnel’s condition and tell when intervention is required.
Over the past two years, Sund & Bælt has worked with digital solutions as a replacement for manual processes. Specifically, Sund & Bælt has streamlined its operations and saved substantial costs, which means that expectations for the lifetime of the Storebælt fixed link can be optimised and increased by between 50 and 100 years.
Market for bridge owners globally
Maximo for Civil Infrastructure combines the experience from Storebælt and IBM’s digital development work, which will be offered to global infrastructure operator owners over the coming year – potentially a substantial market. In their latest analysis from 1 April this year, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association concluded that over 47,000 bridges in the U.S. are currently “structurally deficient”.
Commenting on the collaboration with Sund & Bælt, Henrik Bodskov, CEO, IBM Denmark said:
“This is an innovative solution created jointly with Sund & Bælt where their experience and our technological packages have created a new, unique and global solution which we can be proud of in Denmark. This doesn’t happen every day.”
Sund & Bælt’s CEO, Mikkel Hemmingsen, says :
“As our infrastructure facilities age and traffic pressures increase, it is imperative for us to deploy new methods to constantly keep installations safe and operational without increasing costs. The collaboration with global technology partners such as IBM can help us secure the future operations of our links. At the same time, we welcome the fact that the experience from our operations can benefit global organisations in the industry through this new solution.”
In other words, Sund & Bælt’s involvement in the development of this solution will provide the basis for the export of Danish knowledge based on operational experience and data to the rest of the world. In 2017, IBM embarked on a major collaboration with Maersk on blockchain technology. The collaboration with Sund & Bælt thus mirrors a similar type of arrangement with a Danish company.
The parties expect the first release of Maximo for Civil Infrastructure to be complete and available on the market at the end of 2019, and in the first half of 2020, additional facilities within data collection and analysis will be released.
Facts about digitalisation of Sund & Bælt’s facilities:
- The digitalisation of operation and maintenance at Sund & Bælt’s facilities is already reducing costs by 2 per cent per year.
- By 2023, operating expenses are expected to be reduced from a planned level of DKK 500 million to DKK 400 million per year.