My Thuan Bridge, Viet Nam

Researchers in Viet Nam, the UK, France, and Belgium have developed a digital monitoring system to assess early damage on bridges in Viet Nam.  

Public infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and powerlines, require regular monitoring to ensure safe and smooth operation throughout their lifetime. To enable this, they are often equipped with built-in monitoring systems from the start of operation. In Viet Nam, this is difficult due to a limited budget and priority given to building new infrastructure.  

Now, a team of researchers has developed a digital monitoring system, based on the new and advanced Digital Twin technology, for bridges in Viet Nam. The system creates a digital model of a structure that can detect early wear, plan a predictive maintenance scheme and simulate an optimal solution for repair if damage is found. It helps save money and time in renovation and maintenance by eliminating the burden of physically assessing structural damage. 

“I believe Digital Twin is an important technology that Viet Nam can adopt, adapt and develop, aiding its digital transformation process,” says Professor Huan X. Nguyen of the London Digital Twin Research Centre (LDTRC) at Middlesex University, UK. Nguyen led the project together with Dr Thanh T. Bui at the University of Transport and Communications, Viet Nam. The project included establishing the LDTRC and was supported by a new Institutional Links grant under the Newton Program Viet Nam Partnership. The fund was provided by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and delivered by the British Council.  

To develop the Digital Twin model, the researchers collected existing databases and new data on the long-term exposure to vibration of seven bridges – Can Tho, Thang Long, Nam O, Chuong Duong, Nhat Tan, My Thuan and Kien – as well as the Nam Chien dam in Viet Nam. Based on the data, they created a computer model that can predict damage scenarios and test possible solutions using big data analytics and machine-learning algorithms. The real structure and its ‘digital twin’ in the computer model were connected by sensor systems and a cloud-based platform, allowing transmission of data and information both ways to conduct structural assessment in near real-time. 

The team tested the digital twin model with a mock-up bridge in the lab followed by full-scale testing on Thang Long Bridge, which was built in the 1970s and '80s and connects the Noi Bai International Airport with the capital city Hanoi. With a commission from Viet Nam’s Ministry of Transport, the researchers used the model to assess the bridge’s condition and prepare a repair plan. This led to renovations that were completed two months sooner than it would have taken with the conventional method, saving 15 percent of the cost. 

“The Digital Twin research has been essential for reducing costs and is helping Viet Nam move strongly towards digital transformation in infrastructure and Industry 4.0,” says Nguyen Trung Sy, the Director of Directorate for Roads at the Ministry of Transport. 

The researchers are now working with the ministry to build a digital twin model for other bridges that are key transport infrastructures in the country. They have also secured grants on four new projects to create a digital twin model for manufacturing, heritage and healthcare/agriculture sectors.   

The team also formed new academic and industrial partnerships, including joint activities with the Digital Twin Consortium in North America and the Centre for Digital Built Britain at the University of Cambridge, as well as a software package donation worth US$100,000 USD by Ansys, a global engineering software company. 

The project outcomes were reported in journal papers, workshops and a conference. It also received national news and TV coverage during the renovation of Thang Long Bridge.  

This work was supported by the Newton Fund Institutional Links grant, ID 429715093, under the Newton Fund Viet Nam. The grant is funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and University of Transport and Communications, Vietnam, and delivered by the British Council. For further information, please visit the Newton Fund's website.

Nhat Tan Bridge, Viet Nam
Chuong Duong Bridge, Viet Nam