New technology 'a game changer'
A BRAND new invention being made right here in Cannonvale, is set to revolutionise the safety of bridges and piers around the world.
The $1.3 million project has been more than three years in the making and is set to increase the effectiveness of a certain type of structural scanning from around 2% to a whopping 100%.
Darren Foster, managing director of Whitsunday Moorings and Marine Constructions, said the automated structural integrity scanner used on pilings would be a game changer.
"What it does is takes ultrasonic and laser readings from large steel structures and looks inside those structures and tells us what the wall thickness is of those structures. In the past people who do this type of work are only able to capture less than 2% of the data that's available. The machinery we've developed captures 100% of that data. It's an enormous step forward," he said.
The scanner simultaneously uses ultrasonic testing and laser scanning to give the most complete image that engineers have ever had. It has been fine tuned in Cannonvale by a specialist team of professionals and engineers from America as part of Artemis IRS, which was founded by Mr Foster and partner Ken Spruce.
Mr Foster said currently engineers would would write off the piles earlier because they would be over-conservative with their estimate of its condition.
"The engineers job is to try and work out what stage of life the pile is out and when they need to be looking at demolishing or replacing it. They're degrading the asset a lot quicker than what's required," he said.
"It's actually going to change to the way they build these assets."
Having now partnered with Hydrix to develop the scanner commercially, which they believe will take 15 months, Mr Foster said it could also open up job opportunities in the Whitsundays.
"This will become the standard internationally of the way they assess structural integrity on large assets," Mr Foster said.
It's not only piles that stand to benefit, with plans for similar technology for small vessels and a more advanced scanner that would include a self-fixing robot already undwerway.