How STRUCINSPECT Reshapes Digital Inspection

Ernst Forstner
STRUCINSPECT's digital inspection platform on a screen with two engineers pointing at it

STRUCINSPECT was founded in 2019 as a joint venture between manufacturer PALFINGER, engineering specialists VCE and the mobile mapping and photogrammetry experts of the ANGST Group. Together, PALFINGER, VCE and ANGST are taking infrastructural inspection to new heights as they seek to continuously draw on the possibilities of the latest developments in digital technology.

In early July, STRUCINSPECT’s managing director Ernst Forstner hosted a webinar centered around the digitization of infrastructure inspection and STRUCINSPECT’s innovative software offering in this space. Here are some key insights from that webinar on how STRUCINSPECT came to reshape the world of digital inspections.   

From Structural Inspection to Digital Inspection

Engineering structures leave no room for failure. To ensure stability, safety and durability, regular inspection is required to understand and perform possible maintenance or repair requirements. Much like any process that is still performed manually, digitization has the potential to act as a means that supports and improves the status quo. Infrastructural inspections are no exception.

STRUCINSPECT has spent the last years developing AI-assisted methods to improve this status quo for infrastructural inspections. The approach is currently focused heavily on concrete constructions, especially bridge inspection, and aims to act as a supporting tech solution to help inspection teams make their work more efficient, safer and more sustainable.

Taking advantage of digitized tools has also meant enabling new processes in structuring and organizing data as such. Digitized inspection, in other words, means that data from infrastructural inspection becomes available in a structured form and can easily be distributed to other applications. This makes organizing and saving data much more convenient.

In digital inspection, for example, the information of the structure is saved in a digital twin. A digital twin is a digital copy of any real-world object, created by using the recordings, measurements and interpretations of photographic images and patterns: photogrammetry. Typically, digital twins are 3D-models with a high number of parameters that replicate the data visually to a particularly high degree of accuracy, forming the basis to achieve favorable outcomes of digital inspections. Although the process of creating digital replicas is becoming more mainstream in architecture and construction, it still needs to find its way into structural inspection.

As a leader in innovation for(AI-assisted) structural inspection, STRUCINSPECT firmly believes that collaboration in infrastructural projects can only make significant advances if all relevant project data is readily available to every contributor in a highly detailed and organized fashion. This removes the possibility for errors or friction during an inspection by sharing intermediate results, maintaining clean records of inspections and outcomes and by facilitating asset management.

Several years ago, the founders of STRUCINSPECT started to work together using this new technology and testing it in the field of inspection. They started capturing data with drones and applying the data using AI. This allowed for safer and easier access to any point of a given structure and for powerful modelling and assessment capabilities. Initially, this made for a rather experimental approach. However, the process soon evolved and became increasingly sophisticated. STRUCINSPECT was able to build up extensive know-how from various projects and ongoing research efforts. These efforts were designed to continue delivering on the promise of advanced visual detection capabilities, improved collaboration, and promoting the trustworthiness of AI within structural inspection. The result today is a professional software service, which integrates many features and acts as a collaboration hub, bringing together engineers, data capturers, owners, and operators together, to enjoy a more efficient, safer, and more transparent approach to digital inspection.

The Digital Inspection Software

The future of digital inspection lies in the development of a holistic approach where the data is available in a structured form and can be transferred for use in other software applications as well. The goal of STRUCINSPECT was always to develop a support system that facilitates and simultaneously improves infrastructural inspection. However, the vision behind how to accomplish this meant having to implement an understanding that there is more to efficient digital inspection software than the ability to save data captured by drones or other innovative means. Specifically, the ability to efficiently perform ongoing asset management and lifecycle management is essential for successful structural inspection projects. These are highly complex tasks.

STRUCINSPECT makes these tasks more convenient for the user, by enabling them to have a transparent overview of all their projects, structures, and collected data. Using an intuitive dashboard, operators and owners of infrastructural assets can easily see and track the evolution of damages by damage type. This allows inspection teams to classify, log and then filter damages to simplify asset management. Digitized image capturing means a user of the STRUCINSPECT platform will know the exact geo-location of a defect or potential damage, examine everything in a thumbnail, and zoom in to inspect the damage up close – even while working remotely. This makes inspections possible irrespective of light or weather conditions.

Innovating on digital inspection in this way should not mean redefining things from the ground up. Rather, STRUCINSPECT’s aim is to drastically improve on the parts which require adjustments the most. To allow for this, a growing suite of features is expected to continue improving the offering and the user experience of STRUCINSPECT as it aims to be the go-to platform offering both reliable and innovative solutions for the digital inspection of concrete-based, infrastructural projects. To this end, the software developed by STRUCINSPECT has already demonstrated its value in various contexts, proving itself as a highly efficient solution for key clients, including ÖBB Infra or the Autobahn Südbayern. Specific projects where STRUCINSPECT’s software has been applied in praxis include projects in Germany, Croatia, parts of Scandinavia, and Austria. A strong focus has been on infrastructure like tunnels and bridges with several projects underway.

As the client base of STRUCINSPECT continues to grow, so does the team behind the platform. As the headcount already surpasses 40 team members, Ernst Forstner and everyone at STRUCINSPECT are extremely motivated and excited as they continue to deliver on what promises to be an upgrade in infrastructural inspection that will leave its mark on the safety and reliability of the infrastructure that surrounds us all.

Interested to find out more? Read on about our solution or see the pricing for each of our digital inspections services. 

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