Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belgium
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Malta
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


   Success Stories

Last Update: 13-12-2013  
Related category(ies):
Industrial research  |  SMEs

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Austria  |  Germany  |  Switzerland
Add to PDF "basket"

Equipping the world's notable bridges with an advanced sliding bearing system

Bearings are critical components for keeping today's bridges functioning properly and safely. MOBILE has developed an innovative bridge bearing technology which features superior monitoring of controlled performance, cutting edge materials, extended service life, as well as facilitates ease of construction.

©  Frédéric Prochasson - Fotolia.com

‘Once cheap bearing counterfeits from Asia started to penetrate the market, we came to the conclusion that European manufacturers can only survive by offering a new state-of-the-art product,’ says Dr Helmut Wenzel, president of VCE Vienna Consulting Engineers ZT GmbH. VCE, the Austrian-based high-tech consulting firm that coordinated the two-year project, took a rather unconventional route when building its SME consortium. ‘We brought together the four competing bridge equipment manufacturers in Europe, and this created the critical mass necessary for the development of a new generation of sliding bearings.’

All the ingredients were in place for a successful joint effort: diversified experience, balance of required know-how and a shared research approach. Mr Wenzel stresses, however, that this seamless cooperation was only made possible thanks to EU funding: ‘Without it, this harmonised development would not have been possible in a competitive market such as this one.’

Bearings are designed to transmit the weight and traffic load of a bridge to the ground. In order to avoid over-stressing and damage by vehicle and loading movement to the piers (a bridge’s upright supports), bearings are used to accommodate such movements so as to reduce the reaction forces and bending moments to be within the safety limits of the structure.

It proved easy to produce the new bearing after successfully developing and testing it, says Mr Wenzel: ‘The development work tried to remain as faithful as possible to the production process, so it was no issue to proceed to the commercialisation phase after the end of the project.’

Mr Wenzel was optimistic of going to market because of the demand shown. ‘We identified several critical cases where bearing failures caused considerable problems for prominent bridges. In fact, two of the four manufacturers implemented the new concept immediately with success.’

Marketing of the MOBILE product then took off. ‘The new bearings started to sell immediately, and marketing was carried out on a global scale,’ states Mr Wenzel. ‘A collaboration agreement between VCE and the producers was signed and joint offers were successfully made to international clients. Since then, joint projects have been implemented worldwide.’ Along with MOBILE project success came tremendous growth. According to Mr Wenzel, VCE grew by more than 100%. The business volume in the bridge bearing sector quadrupled compared to previous years and continues to experience rapid growth, which now comprises 40% of the business. More than 30 new jobs were created in 2012, a third of which are related to the MOBILE technology. Products and services are almost entirely European, which contributes to keeping jobs in Europe.

Most of the exceptional bridge projects have been equipped with the MOBILE technology. Prominent superstructures include the Haliç Metro Bridge (Istanbul), the Taizhou Suspension Bridge (China), the Halifax Harbour Bridges (Canada) and the Wazirabad Signature Bridge (New Delhi). The majority of projects are managed online via a web interface.

Mr Wenzel explains the added value and competitive advantage of the MOBILE product: ‘The lifespan of the new bearings is more than double and they provide information on their real-time condition through a monitoring system. They are superior to the low-cost fakes, and are considered a necessity for many large-scale projects today.’

‘The new bearing should continue to be successful for the foreseeable future,’ emphasises Mr Wenzel. ‘We see an innovation cycle of about a decade. In the next few years, we will start to carry out more research and development work for an improved product.’

Mr Wenzel believes that the achievements of the MOBILE project offer lessons learnt for SMEs: ‘It is important to enable SMEs to take big steps in development and to collaborate with other likeminded businesses when going alone is not an option. Well-balanced European research and development projects can bring considerable added value to the European industrial process.’

Project details

  • Project acronym: MOBILE
  • Participants: Austria (Coordinator), Germany, Switzerland
  • Project FP6 31951
  • Total costs: € 917 500
  • EU contribution: € 517 000
  • Duration: February 2007 - July 2009

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use the search box at the top of the page to the right of the menu and then select "Information Centre" in the "Filter by" menu on the results page.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Project information on CORDIS





  Top   Research Information Center