By David Morelo, Europe Correspondent

Deutsche Telekom has teamed with BS2 Sicherheitssysteme, a German manufacturer of smart sensors for concrete structures, to equip Düsseldorf Airport, with NB-IoT sensors to monitor the condition of bridges, tunnels, buildings, and other infrastructure objects made of concrete.

“Düsseldorf Airport is one of the pioneers in Germany that is using IoT technology for its road constructions at the airport,” says Ingo Hofacker, who is responsible for IoT business at Deutsche Telekom. The goal is to help the airport, which carries more than 24 million passengers annually, to move away from traditional material samples which are costly to take and cause damage to the tested structure.

Düsseldorf Airport is starting with a bridge that provides the sole access route to the airport’s tank farm, making it critical for smooth flight operations. Every day, over 120 fuel tanker trucks, each carrying 30,000 liters of kerosene, travel across the bridge, causing a significant amount of material fatigue.

“We have a bottleneck here at the central tank farm. The digital solution protects us against unforeseeable damage to the access road and the disruptions to tank usage that it would entail,” says Michael Hohenecker, Head of Data Management and Building Inspection at Real Estate Management, Düsseldorf Airport.

Fifty NB-IoT sensors embedded in the surface of the bridge and its copings will measure temperature, humidity, and corrosion. The gathered data will be transmitted in real-time over Deutsche Telekom’s network for subsequent analysis. According to Deutsche Telekom and BS2 Sicherheitssysteme, the sensors have a lifetime of 70 years, and they can be installed in both new constructions and existing concrete structures.

Apart from the bridge, similar NB-IoT sensors from BS2 Sicherheitssysteme are also being deployed is the Köln-Ost highway junction, where Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) is conducting its own tests to evaluate the usefulness and limitations of the technology.