Bridges Control Systems

Over the last twenty years Fairfields has been especially successful in the design of electrical control systems for moving bridges, establishing ourselves as a leading designer and supplier in this field. Through our complete turn-key approach and close ties with mechanical and hydraulics providers, we offer a complete service to all of our clients. This, coupled with our commitment to quality in design and manufacture, makes us the perfect partner for all of your control solutions.

Independence has been a key factor in the development of the company thus far and all aspects of our designs are viewed objectively to establish the best solution commercially and technically, utilising equipment that is best suited to the user – both in plant reliability and operational practicality.

All Shapes and Sizes

We have provided control and monitoring systems for a host of bridges, and continue to provide ongoing maintenance and support services to many of them.

Our engineers have worked on the many variants of bridge types, including:

  • Hydraulic motor driven bascule bridges
  • Hydraulic ram operated leaf bridges
  • Electric motor and gear driven leaf bridges
  • Electric motor driven slewing bridges
  • Hydraulic motor driven slewing bridges
  • Winched deck bridges

We are able to provide a solution, no matter what stage of its lifecycle the control system is in, from initial design and implementation of a new system, the appraisal and improvement of an existing system, to the replacement of an ageing or obsolete system.

Availability of bridge systems is paramount, and the inability of an asset to operate when required can have financial and operational consequences for both operators and users alike. Where existing bridge systems are nearing the end of their reliable life, or component availability is threatened due to product obsolescence, we can assist you by prioritising and helping to plan a replacement schedule which will meet with both your operational and budgetary constraints.

Our TUV accredited functional safety engineers have extensive knowledge and experience in conducting Safety Integrity Level Assessments to determine how the control system can best deliver a safe operating environment to all stakeholders.

Functional Safety

Our work on bridge control systems carries many similarities with that of our moving structures. The one thing that the control systems have in common is that they are predominantly required to be high integrity systems, requiring compliance with rigorous and demanding standards and specifications.

A significant part of control system design for a bridge begins with a safety case which assesses how the structure impacts on the safety of the user, the public, maintenance personnel and its own potential loss of asset, for example how a failure of the control system can lead to damage to the structure itself. This study forms one of the cornerstones of the control system design by determining the required safety functions.

Working to the guidelines set out in ISO 13849 and IEC 61508 Functional Safety of Electrical and Programmable Control Systems, our TUV accredited functional safety engineers have extensive knowledge and experience in conducting Safety Integrity Level Assessments to determine how the control system can best deliver a safe operating environment to all stakeholders.

We have provided control systems for:

  • Tower Bridge (dual bascule)
  • Gateshead Millenium Bridge (single arc)
  • Lowestoft Bridge (dual bascule)
  • Corporation Road Bridge (single span lift)
  • Selby Swing Bridge – A63 (single span slew)
  • Ennerdale Bridge (span lift)
  • Stoneferry Bridge (dual span lift)
  • Kingsferry Bridge (winched deck bridge)
  • Great Wharf Road Bridge (single span lift)
  • Boothferry Bridge (single span slew)
  • South Ferriby Bridge (single span lift)
  • Grovehill Bridge (single span lift)

Service Support & Frameworks

In order to further support our customers, we offer tailored service and framework agreements comprising of routine planned preventative maintenance (PPM) and emergency 24/7 365 day response. Dependent upon specification, our systems are supplied with the ability to be remotely accessed, especially in the waterways sector, as assets are often located in hard to reach area’s – some even becoming inaccessible under certain conditions.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is probably one of the most iconic bridges in the world and is nestled in the busy heart of London. Fairfields is honoured to have supplied the PLC and SCADA based control system for this famous landmark in 2002, and continue to support it via an ongoing maintenance agreement to this day. We are able to respond to calls for assistance within minutes of a call by connecting to the control systems’ PLC and SCADA in order to diagnose, not just any potential electrical control system problems, but also hydraulic or mechanical issues.

Our engineers initially conducted a feasibility study to determine how best to integrate a state of the art PLC/SCADA system into the existing electrical, hydraulic and mechanical infrastructure. The control system is based upon a Rockwell Automation ControlLogix PLC platform, situated in the north west pier machinery room. This communicates to remote Flex Remote I/O nodes via a dual redundant network using both fibre optic and coaxial cables in each of the four piers, two operator control rooms and resting block areas under the bridge. Two operator control rooms house the SCADA operator interface systems which utilise Rockwell’s RSView SCADA. This system enables the user full capability to operate the bridge with full status, alarms and condition monitoring facilities. Data from each lift is trended and logged by the SCADA system so that the root causes of any problems experienced can be diagnosed quickly and easily. This system also allows the operators to look at historical trends, allowing them to compare system variables – pressures, times etc. – in order to see how these are changing over time, and therefore prepare and execute any remedial works prior to bridge operational problems being experienced.


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