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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 77
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper 9

The Application of an On-Site Inspection Support System to a Hydropower Plant

T. Sakata+ and N. Yabuki*

+Engineering Department, Electric Power Development Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan
*Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Muroran Institute of Technology, Hokkaido, Japan

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
T. Sakata, N. Yabuki, "The Application of an On-Site Inspection Support System to a Hydropower Plant", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Civil and Structural Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 9, 2003. doi:10.4203/ccp.77.9
Keywords: RFID, PDA, inspection, hydroelectric power plant, concrete dam, knowledge management, operation and maintenance, on-site.

Inspection during construction, operation and maintenance of structures and facilities including dams is an important task to maintain them safely and economically for a long time. In general, administrators have to manage a large amount of inspection data to maintain a huge structure such as a dam that has manifold inspection points. Thus, inspectors have to carry a bulk of documents, drawings, and measuring equipment and they also have to record all measured data and notices. Nevertheless, the amount of things they can carry and record is limited in practice. It is important to surely store the daily inspection data in a database in order to maintain structures. Thus, a device that can easily input and output a large amount of inspection data obtained at a site to and from database is desired. Although inspectors can access the database at a site by using some digital tools such as mobile personal computers (PC), personal digital assistants (PDA) etc., with a communication device via the Internet recently, those devices may be useless in case of emergency because of communication troubles. In case of emergency, especially, inspectors have to know what the unusual happens as soon as possible.

The quality of inspection depends on the inspectors' experience and knowledge. In order to make appropriate decisions when something unusual is noticed, extensive experiences and knowledge are necessary. In this research, we have developed an on-site inspection support system without connection to network and applied it to inspection of an existing concrete dam of a hydroelectric power plant in Japan.

In our approach, knowledge such as advice and warnings regarding each structural member for inspection, measured data and notices obtained in previous inspection is input to Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) tags glued to the member. An inspector can obtain valuable knowledge, previous inspection data by using PDA with a reader-writer that can input or output information in RFID tags instead of carrying bulky documents to the site. In addition, he or she can obtain the information for inspection from RFID tags in case of emergency.

We have proposed a new system model for supporting on-site inspection of some structures by using information technologies including RFIDs, VoiceXML, wireless Local Area Network and the Internet (called "on-site inspection support system") [1,2].

The hydroelectric power plant we have applied this system to is located in the heart of mountains. Therefore, wireless communication devices such as cellular phones are not available.

The on-site inspection support system developed in this research consists of RFID tags, PDA, reader-writer, PC and some software installed in PDA and PC. The memory size of RFID tag we used in our research is 256 bytes. Each RFID tag attached to a facility or a structural member can contain not only advises and warnings but also feature of the facility, inspection notes and measured data. However, the amount of memory in the RFID tag is too little to contain digital photographs, information about inspection routes and operation manual of the spillway gates, for example. Therefore, this kind of large data are to be contained in the PDA memory. The reader-writer we used in our research is of a compact flash (CF) type. PC is used to unify management of inspection data at an office.

Inspectors have only to carry a PDA to a site to obtain various kinds of information for inspection from RFID tags and PDA memory. After inspection, inspection data including advices and warnings are forwarded to PC automatically by inserting the PDA in a slot of a cradle connected via USB and stored in a hard disk of PC.

The application of this system to the hydroelectric power plant shows that the system can improve

  • both common and emergent measures by storing inspection management and recent inspected data at a site,
  • the inspection quality by storing procedures and knowledge at a site, and
  • reliability and efficiency of inspection and data management.

Yabuki, Y. Shimada and K. Tomita, "An On-Site Inspection Support System Using Radio Frequency Identification Tags and Personal Digital Assistants", Proceedings from CIB w78 Conference, Aarhus, Denmark, Vol. 2, 14-19, 2002.
N. Yabuki, K. Ueta, T. Yamashita and Y. Shimada, "An On-Site Inspection Support System Using RFID, PDA and Voice Technologies", Journal of Civil Engineering Information Processing System, Japan Society of Civil Engineers, Vol.11, 77-84, (in Japanese), 2002.

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