Advances in manufacture of smart prestressed reinforced concrete elements

D. Zonta*, M. Pozzi, A. Colombo, D. Inaudi, A. Figini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a research effort to develop a novel construction system based on precast Reinforced Concrete (RC) elements embedding sensors and capable of self-diagnosis. The sensors are not just applied to the RC member, but are conceived as an integral part of the prefabricated RC element, influencing its design criteria, performance and detailing. The first phase of the research was completed in 2004 with construction and testing of reduced-scale prototypes of smart RC elements. The second phase is now starting and aims to demonstrate the industrial feasibility of series production of prefabricated RC elements embedding Fiber-Optic Sensors. The program includes production of two 28m-long prestressed RC box beams. One of these beams will be used in a single span road bridge, while the other will be extensively tested in the laboratory, in order to record and identify the response signature associated with recurrent deterioration scenarios, including cracking, concrete cover spalling and partial corrosion of the reinforcement. The general paradigm of the design is to conceive the sensing system in two separate parts, embeddable and external. The embeddable part is to be permanently installed in the RC beam, and must be highly reliable and robust. The embeddable sensing system has the form of a linear subassembly called a smart bar, in which optical signals are carried along and collected at the ends of the bar. The production cycle of the RC beam in the prefabrication plant starts with steel reinforcement tensioning, and the smart bars are placed in the reinforcing, before pouring the concrete. The external part of the sensing system includes the interrogation units and the telecommunication system. These external parts are located at the lower face of the beam in an easily accessible position. Once the bridge is in operation the external sensing system can be replaced in the case of failure or for technology upgrade.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd European Workshop - Structural Health Monitoring 2006
EditorsAlfredo Güemes
Place of PublicationPennsylvania, USA
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2006
Event3rd European Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring 2006 - Granada, Spain
Duration: 5 Jul 20067 Jul 2006


Conference3rd European Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring 2006


  • concrete beams and girders
  • reinforced concrete
  • reinforcement
  • sensing systems
  • concrete cover
  • optical signals
  • precast reinforced concrete


Dive into the research topics of 'Advances in manufacture of smart prestressed reinforced concrete elements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this