The Development of Bulgaria's Transport Infrastructure
One of the most important issues for any State is the development of transport infrastructure as a condition for the development of a modern market economy. For many years, the Bulgarian government has struggled due to insufficient funds. However, now the situation is different. Thanks to European funding and increased investments in the country, as well as many new possibilities coming from Asia, Bulgaria is eager to transform its transport infrastructure.
In the modern world, transport infrastructure is the supporting skeleton of a territory, a basis for its development, a prerequisite for the prosperity of the economy and the population. Sometimes it is the improvement and repair of existing infrastructure that makes further development possible.
Once this is established, choices have to be made, as a matter of governance and expert management. The question is who can undertake these developments, and will expert proposals be commissioned for the integrated development of transport infrastructure? At this point, it is key to say that any kind of endeavour of such scale is a huge challenge. This is why there is a need for companies like SIXENSE to be involved.
Gathering the best experts of infrastructure, SIXENSE is a group offering global excellence in solutions encompassing activities in the following fields – engineering, monitoring, software and digitalisation. Now present in Bulgaria, this internationally renowned company can make a difference by supporting any work done in construction and maintenance. They can offer state of the art solutions so that these projects of crucial importance for the prosperity of Bulgaria are sustainable and, most importantly, safe.
SIXENSE has a complete range of expertise when it comes to existing infrastructure, in terms of structure condition evaluation, residual tension measurement and ageing monitoring.
It all starts with a preliminary investigation. For example, most concrete constructions, such as bridges or viaducts, are composed of cable-stays, which are an assembly of wires that reinforce the structure. However, they are not immune to corrosion. This isn't a problem for SIXENSE: their expertise is to gather the right data in the right place, to analyse it and then provide contractors with tailor-made solutions that are easily accessible on user-friendly software.
We are not simply talking about particular sensors to adapt on viaducts, which would indeed be very beneficial on Bulgarian infrastructure. What SIXENSE is all about is that they provide the right solution to a vast range of problems using many resources from their technical portfolio. Their high quality research and tremendous efficiency are the reason why they were awarded projects of significant importance like Toulon Tunnel and London Crossrail.
Gammagraphy, 3D Tomography, Windows, Endoscopy, Laboratory tests: these specialities might sound complicated, but they are part of the evaluation process needed. In a way, to make things clearer, a parallel can be made with medical professionals. Before specialists can tell you what condition you are in, they need to look at an x-ray, and maybe order a biopsy for further detail.
It is a similar situation for transport infrastructure: of course, it is possible to have a general idea of what is going on and take action, but it's always preferable to have reliable data. We all use and are dependent on transport infrastructure: it is for our common benefit to make sure that the people who make decisions have the necessary insight.
SIXENSE mobilised on the Grand Paris Express project
Sofia News Agency contacted Renel Dobre, SIXENSE Country Manager for Bulgaria, and asked him to provide us with an overview of what the company he represents has to offer in terms of Bulgarian transport infrastructure needs:
"If you think about old infrastructure, it is a matter of assessment. It is like when you go to a medical specialist. First there is a discussion, there is a paper to fill in with your details – age, blood type and so on. Ideally, there should be some kind of archive with preliminary data. It can be from the previous year if you have had regular examinations, or it can be older, but it still is history. With infrastructure, it is pretty much the same.
We have an infrastructure that is 50 years old. It is made of concrete and steel, and has been affected by time passing. What needs to be done is the result of a discussion with the representatives of the infrastructure, in order to figure out what the challenge is with this asset, in other words – we want to see the current status. Going back to the medical parallel, the preliminary investigation is when you have a blood test or an x-ray. Based on this, we can start to grasp the situation. After data is checked, additional investigations can be needed.
At SIXENSE, we call this Engineering.
It is part of monitoring, and it is very important. Why? Because this will put forward the stages to follow. If there is a need for prophylactic (preventive) measures, they are part of the recommendation we present.
But in order to know what kind of prophylactic action is needed, we need to meet the executives and people in charge. They share their information concerning the challenge faced, and we can undertake preliminary investigations and put forward the technical engineering that we are capable of providing. Then we recommend specific actions to be taken.
For example, when we discuss rail-road infrastructure, we are talking about a network spread across the country, that relates to many categories. Not only rail tracks, but also buildings, train-stations, hangars, lines, as well as bridges, tunnels, and actual signalisation. In a way, railway infrastructure is similar to road infrastructure."
Imagine a centralised system, monitoring various assets which are inter-connected. The level of control needed is immense. A problem on a bridge needs to be signalled quickly to incoming boats, for
example. Infrastructure network monitoring prevents incidents, increases efficiency and optimises the operating periods of all kinds of infrastructure.
"Concerning very large scale infrastructure monitoring over whole regions or a country, to do with mountains, coasts or rivers for example, SIXENSE also has a management solution: it's called Scanprint. It gives you a broader view on a larger scale. It enables you to know what is happening along different segments of your infrastructure. Instead of thinking in terms of an inventory, you can have an overview of planned activities.
You can plan renovation activities and monitor them while the asset is in full operation. All possible data is collected and recorded in one place, and can be accessed in real time, which means reports are instant, digitalised and centralised: SIXENSE makes your resources flexible, enabling you to allocate them according to your needs, with the adequate monitoring and software.
Our digitalised solutions make our clients' activities more efficient, for easy and integrated large-asset management. Which has led us to work with major road and railway clients around the world, in France, Canada, the USA. Furthermore, our solutions can be integrated with existing customer tools.
As a result, all the data and information is collected and centralised in one place, available to all stakeholders in charge of infrastructure maintenance and development."
Currently, Bulgaria has a unique chance of having total European support for the development of our transport infrastructure. Let's not forget that Bulgaria has a very central position in Europe, and has therefore had the opportunity, ever since 1991, of having five of the ten major eastern European transport corridors passing through its territory (corridors 4, 7 – the Danube river, 8, 9, 10).
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