In year 2021 the drone services provider GeoZICHT carried out a large-scale inspection of more than 20 major bridges belonging to the Dutch authority Rijkswaterstaat, in collaboration with the leading engineering companies IV-Infra, Westenberg and Nebest.
Netherlands-based GeoZICHT offers a wide range of drone services, from high-quality 3D geospatial data and 360-degree aerial photography to inspection flights of industrial facilities or civil infrastructure. The company specializes in image and data processing as well as geographic and geodetic issues.
The innovative acquisition of images using modern drone technology represents an improved approach to bridge inspections, as the risks for manned inspection teams can be significantly reduced in this way. But until now, there has been a lack of an efficient way to provide the resulting inspection images in the best possible way for the inspection teams to perform an accurate and optimal condition assessment. Traditionally, it’s challenging, time-consuming and error-prone to manually inspect and evaluate thousands of unstructured inspection images. GeoZICHT decided to provide the participating inspection companies access to the drone operations data in a more appropriate way.
Intelligent inspections using digital twins
Within the GeoZICHT project large bridges operated by Rijkswaterstaat were surveyed nationwide, and all objects were captured in detail and in their entirety by the modern drones and high-resolution cameras. By using photogrammetry to process true-to-life and photorealistic 3D mesh models as digital twins of the bridges, the inspection process becomes much faster and more collaborative.
To harness this data comprehensively and to its full potential in the inspection process, GeoZICHT used the digital inspection platform TWINSPECTÒ by Twinsity, a Germany-based software company. TWINSPECT is a web-based software solution that fully digitizes the drone inspection process making inspections safer, easier and more cost-effective.
Based on an interactive cloud platform, the true-to-life digital twins are visualized in high resolution as photorealistic 3D model of the bridges, allowing the inspection teams to intuitively navigate through the structures. The integration and use of the high-quality original inspection images taken by GeoZICHT is achieved by precisely linking the digital twins and the images. With a simple mouse click on the digital twin, the corresponding inspection images are selected and listed for the users. In TWINSPECT, the inspector can directly inspect, measure, comment and analyze any issues and damages, while communicating and collaborating within the team. Finally, the inspection teams can export automatically generated customized, high-quality inspection reports with a touch of a button. The documentation of the asset condition gets far more accurate and less time-consuming, compared to traditional inspection methods.
By using drones in the inspection process, it can be conducted much more safely and time efficiently. During the recording of the various bridges in the project, water traffic under the bridges could continue as normal, as could road traffic on the bridge. As a result, long and costly closures could be avoided. By using the TWINSPECT inspection software, the resulting data was efficiently made available for the inspection of the structures and asset safety was enhanced through accurate inspection tools.