The use of optical fibres to monitor stresses, temperature, leakage and other characteristics is now well established. By firing a laser pulse down the fibre, measurements can be taken over distances of up to 60km. Fibres have been incorporated into the structure of bridges and the London Crossrail project used them to provide continuous monitoring of some of its most vital areas, such as the terminal at Kings Cross.
RolaTube has been working with the Centre for Smart Infrastructure in Construction (CSIC) at Cambridge University, the UK Government’s centre of excellence in this area, since its inception.
Probably the most significant barrier to the wider uptake of this potentially ubiquitous technology has been the need for trained staff to spend long periods performing the installation. By integrating the difficult to manage fibres into RolaTube products, this task can be de-skilled and greatly speeded up, without the installation hampering time critical construction work.
With RolaTube fibre optic products, coiled tubular sheaths and liners can be quickly clipped onto bridges and pipes or pulled through pipes and tunnels. Shallow arc “tapes” allow a coil to be reeled into a building foundation before the concrete is poured, and will maintain the straightness and slight tension the fibre needs in order to function effectively without time consuming on site fitting.
RolaTube is currently developing a production line capable of producing these materials in volume for the first time, and the company looks forward to following up its successful laboratory and field testing with commercial installations in the near future.