NDE 4.0 in Civil Engineering - Obstacles and Opportunities
1 BAM, Berlin, Germany
Civil engineering industry is one of the most important industry sectors in the world-wide economy. It contributes significantly to the gross economic product and general employment. Even more important, it provides many of the basic needs of the society (e. g. housing, infrastructure, protection from natural hazards).
The concept of “Industry 4.0” or “Smart Production” has not yet made significant progress in the civil engineering industry. The design, build and operate processes are still widely dominated by the exchange of printed documents and drawings. Most objects (buildings and other constructions) are unique, and a large part of the production still requires a large amount of manual labor. As-built documentation and quality assurance are often neglected. Civil engineering is among the industries sectors with the lowest level of digitalization and the lowest gain in productivity.
However, this is going to change. In the past decade, several drivers have challenged the ways clients, contractors, and authorities currently operate. These drivers include but are not limited to an increasing demand for serialization and automatization, the mandatory introduction of “Building Information Modeling” (BIM) in public procurement, the availability of construction equipment with sensors and digital interfaces or emerging automated construction technologies such as 3D-printing.
NDE (referred to as NDT-CE in this sector), after a rapid technological development in the last two decades, plays an increasing role in quality assurance, condition assessment and monitoring of structures. However, with very few exceptions, applications are mostly non-standardized and performed only at selected sites. To change this, the NDT-CE community including manufacturers, service providers, clients and the scientific community must work consistently on open data formats, interfaces to BIM, standardization and validated ways for a quantitative use of the results in the assessment of constructions.