Infrastructure Management

The German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) owns a large and diverse portfolio of structures, whose total value currently exceeds 50 billion euro. Owing to the relatively long period that is necessary for the planning and implementation of maintenance measures, obsolescence and investment backlogs are two of the main challenges currently faced by infrastructure operators.

An Infrastructure management enables an early identification, evaluation and prioritization of required repair measures, and thus, is an essential tool in addressing this backlogged maintenance. However, high-quality data, targeted preparation and a structured as well as transparent approach are necessary of the achievement of this goal.

The required information encompasses fundamental data about current condition up to data about cost for repair and renewal measures. To a great extent, the increasing integration of data collection and management into business processes will replace manual entry, and thus, help to optimise these processes. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is also expected to make a major contribution to enhancing data quality.

Actual comprehensive condition data, collected during regular inspections of hydraulic structures, are nowadays available. Obtaining key condition data from the assessment of individual damage enables information to be prepared in condensed form to support decision-makers. A sophisticated condition forecast method allows the change in structural condition over time to be estimated and the right timing for technical interventions to be determined. Key figures for potential measures are currently being developed and criteria that may assist decision-making are being formulated.

Building on this, a structured and transparent approach will require the determination of criteria for the prioritization of measures, taking into account structural engineering as well as economic factors. As perspective, risk-based approaches that are currently being developed in partnership with universities within the framework of the BMVI’s Network of Experts, will be integrated in the prioritization process. Furthermore, particular attention must always be paid in this regard to the waterways’ network structure, which offers little redundancy and little scope for bypassing.

Structural Engineering Topics