Full scale bridge deck testing facility opens

Fuji Electric was part of a six year project to create a living laboratory to understand the effects of traffic on bridge structures.

Fuji Electric took part in the recent unveiling of the world’s first accelerated bridge-testing facility. The Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing (BEAST) lab, located at Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ will provide valuable data and insight into the degradation of bridges due to environmental and maintenance factors in a matter of weeks or months instead of years or decades. The electronics manufacturer’s VG Drive plays an integral role in the facility, powering the winch that propels the truck chassis over the bridge deck.

“Fuji Electric is honoured to be part of this revolutionary project and we are proud that our products were selected for their durability and reliability,” said Philip Charatz, President and CEO of Fuji Electric. “The VG Drive is capable of operating 24/7 without failure and will allow for uninterrupted research as these critical experiments are conducted.”

Designed and constructed through a collaborative effort between Rutgers University’s Centre for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and Applied Research Associates (ARA), the project spanned 6 years from start to finish, beginning with the conceptual phase in 2009 and completing construction in the spring of 2015. The laboratory provides a condensed view into the effects that the environment and heavy traffic have on full-scale bridge decks and substructures that take the brunt of wear and tear. Test results will give bridge owners more confidence in decisions relating to materials and rehabilitation methods.

“The validity of our testing depends on maintaining tightly controlled parameters. We can’t afford any component in this facility to fail or it will throw off the data,” said Andrés Roda, BEAST operations manager. “The answers we get from the BEAST can potentially save billions of dollars in infrastructure costs, so there’s a lot at stake.”

Fuji Electric’s 460V three-phase 132KW VG Drive is a high performance, low voltage systems drive designed with advanced technology, typically used in sophisticated applications requiring high performance and low maintenance. The driving force of the BEAST’s carriage is a winch built by Foley Material Handling. Including a 400 HP Continuous Duty Motor, the drive train accelerates the test carriage from 0-20mph in a distance of 20ft. The carriage then travels 60 feet at constant velocity before decelerating to zero speed in 20ft and reversing direction.

“We have been relying on Fuji Electric Drives in critical applications for years, so the decision to use their product for the BEAST was an easy one,” said Brad Herron, Electrical Department Manager of Foley Material Handling. “The continuous operation of this facility demands robust, rugged equipment that can withstand the stress of 24/7 experiments, and Fuji Electric delivers that requirement.”

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