PALFINGER founds joint venture for digital bridge inspection

Palfinger Group
From the left to the right: Peter Furtner (VCE), Philipp Smole (PALFINGER), Andreas Klauser (CEO, PALFINGER), Albrecht Karlusch (STRUCINSPECT)
  • STRUCINSPECT will revolutionize the maintenance of infrastructure
  • Multi-sensor technology and artificial intelligence provide comprehensive diagnosis while enhancing safety and efficiency
PALFINGER AG, together with VCE Vienna Consulting Engineers ZT GmbH and the ANGST GROUP, has founded the company PALFINGER Structural Inspection GmbH (STRUCINSPECT), Vienna. Going forward, the new company will revolutionize the inspection of structures, chiefly railway and road bridges. Not only will the combined use of UAVs, multispectral sensors, artificial intelligence and three-dimensional data processing considerably shorten the time periods required for inspecting buildings and structures, it will also no longer be necessary to close these areas to traffic. A comprehensive digital assessment of the structures' state of repair and of any changes in the materials is made, facilitating the precise, cost-efficient and sustainable realization of the structural survey, any necessary maintenance and lifecycle planning.

The idea was born in the global product line Railway, where these new technical possibilities first caught PALFINGER's attention. The concrete plan to found a separate company was then developed and realized at the corporate incubator PALFINGER 21st. PALFINGER AG holds 51 per cent in the new company, and the two technology partners hold 24.5 per cent each.

"We have identified great opportunities for STRUCINSPECT in Austria and Germany alone," said Andreas Klauser, CEO of PALFINGER AG, in praise of the new company. "After all more than 40,000 road bridges and over 25,000 railway bridges have to be inspected on a regular basis to guarantee road safety." The joint venture combines PALFINGER's access to the global market with VCE's bridge inspection expertise and the customer base and the ANGST GROUP's technological know-how. The current market value of bridge inspections in Europe comes to at least EUR 100 million.

STRUCINSPECT takes the currently highly labour-intensive and time-consuming process of structural inspection services to new dimensions. Using the latest data collection technology, 3D data processing, AI-assisted data analysis and targeted planning of measures, STRUCINSPECT creates a digital 3D twin of the structure, providing a precise view of its exterior and interior state, as well as of its performance and allowing for a reliable prediction of its service life. This substantially increases the efficiency and cost-effectiveness not only of the inspection process, but also of the operation of the structure.

"STRUCINSPECT is an example of PALFINGER's digitalization strategy," explains Andreas Klauser, commending the first tangible result of PALFINGER 21st, the Group's innovation hub founded around a year ago. "With these new services, we will be even closer to our end customers. We are becoming a one-stop shop that not only sells hardware, but services as well. Moreover, we have chosen the best partners in the market to make this possible."

The ANGST GROUP was founded more than 50 years ago and is among the largest surveyor's offices in Central and Eastern Europe. Its focus has always been on developing innovative solutions and applying state-of-the-art photogrammetry and surveying technology.

VCE – Vienna Consulting Engineers ZT GmbH is among the leading consulting engineering offices in Austria and beyond. Founded around 60 years ago, VCE has become a globally operating company. Its core competencies include the structural health identification and lifecycle management of civil engineering structures.

About PALFINGER AG

For many years PALFINGER has been one of the world's leading manufacturers of innovative lifting solutions for use on commercial vehicles and in the maritime field. As a multinational group headquartered in Bergheim, Austria, the PALFINGER Group, which has approx. 11,000 employees, generated total sales of approx. EUR 1.6 billion in 2018.

The Group has manufacturing and assembly facilities in Europe, CIS, North and South America, as well as Asia. The pillars of its corporate strategy are innovation, internationalization, enhanced flexibility of products, services and processes, and PALFINGER 21st (the development of smart solutions and innovative, data-based business models). PALFINGER is regarded not only as the market leader, but also the technology leader, in the global market for hydraulic loader cranes. With a network of more than 5,000 sales and service centres located in over 130 countries across all continents, PALFINGER is always in proximity to its customers.

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