Success Stories The Newcastle Swing bridge leverages Fluidmesh for Automation

One of the industrial wonders of the Victorian age, The Swing Bridge over the River Tyne in the north of England connects the city of Newcastle upon Tyne with the town of Gateshead. Owned by Newcastle City Council and operated by the Port of Tyne, it was opened for traffic in June 1876, a product of the visionary engineering genius Lord Armstrong.

At the time of its construction it was the largest swing bridge ever built, and because of its special architectural and historical interest it is now classed in the UK as a Grade II* listed structure, which means that any alterations require special permission from the local planning authority.

For health and safety reasons, before the bridge can be opened it must be clear of vehicle traffic and pedestrians, so there were four barriers in place, one at each access point on the road and pedestrian walkway. The original system required manual operation, however, so the authorities decided to install automatic traffic barriers using modern technology.

Permission was granted, and local firm North East Automation was commissioned to complete the job. The operator can now open and close the barriers from the control room after a visual inspection of the bridge to ensure it is clear. As this requires data to be sent from the control room to each barrier, however, it was decided that a wireless system would be the best choice. Each barrier is now equipped with a low bandwidth Fluidmesh 1200 VOLO. Near the control room a Fluidmesh 3200 ENDO with FM-OMNI, omnidirectional antenna, sends control data and receives feedback from the peripheral units, establishing a continuous communication channel with them.

“Automated solutions are now the norm,” said Rob Waker, director of North East Automation, “so we were charged with providing an efficient solution with low-impact on the aesthetics of the bridge.”

“The Swing Bridge being classified Grade II was the main challenge, since we had to minimize the physical work and avoid digging and trenching, but Fluidmesh is the expert in wireless communications for automation and video surveillance, and they offered us a reliable, effective and flexible solution. The system was easy to install and setup and we had excellent technical support, which allowed us to roll out the communication network in just a few days, with a perfect integration into the aesthetics of the bridge.”