Tunnel inspections are used before, during and after ‘tunnelling’ has taken place at a location.
As such they are vital to ensure that a safe tunnel will be/has been constructed. Tunnel inspections are utilised by organisations in assessment of site worthiness for safe tunnelling; inspections of safe working conditions of construction employees; and checks of the safety systems in place once cars, trains, resources, or pedestrians are travelling through them. For organisations and businesses involved in one or all of these phases of the tunnel lifecycle, there is a need for thorough inspection solutions that can attend to all the needs and requirements of the reporting check. Whether this means an audit of the tunnel ventilation in the construction phase, or whether this is monitoring of the lighting of a road tunnel, the central principle is the same; such inspections need a powerful solution, that can give an accurate report and necessary actions to take.
For many years inspections in tunnels were confined to the techniques used in the earliest form of mining. Intrinsically safe methodology to avoid problems with gases and dust meant that for a long time any work or checks of mines and tunnels had to be done ‘old-school’. Eventually, with the first intrinsically safe lamps being used more widely in mines and tunnelling, it was shown that electronic devices could in future be modified to also work in mining and tunnelling environments. Fast forward to the 21st century and there are numerous providers of intrinsically safe smartphones and tablets that are largely replicas of their consumer counterparts. Where they differ is their construction which allows them to be taken into ‘hazardous’ environments as defined by their ATEX/IECEx, Zone/Class (resp.) certification. This shift to intrinsically safe mobile devices is important because of what this has meant for mining and tunnel inspections. Upon the availability of such devices on the wider market, organisations and businesses began using the devices in many checks throughout the tunnel lifecycle in tunnel inspections. Similar to those operating in many other fields and industries that had also made the shift to digital inspection solutions, tunnelling organisations and businesses saw improvements in problem identifications, as well as reductions in inspection times and asset downtime.