You are on page 1of 7

Advances in Bridge Engineering, March 24 - 25, 2006


Naresh Kumar and Vijayakumar N.B.
Scientists, Research & Development Establishment (Engineers) Dighi, Pune

The paper discusses a mechanically launched mobile bridge that has been
designed in steel for single spans varying from 14m to 46m for class-70 loads. Bridge is
designed for military load class 70, the heaviest tracked vehicles in use. Bridge has
modules of 6.5m to allow for variability of span. Being mobile, the bridge is transported
from one place to other by road or rail and that puts severe restrictions on dimensions
during deployment and transportation. While overall width during transportation is not to
exceed 3.0m, the roadway width when deployed is required to be minimum 4m. To
achieve this variation in width, longitudinal girders are made foldable with respect to the
central deck. Longitudinal girders and the deck in between are, therefore, connected to
each other through four hinges on either side along the length of a module. As a result the
central deck does not contribute in carrying compression due to overall bending of the
bridge. The longitudinal girders, therefore, alone resist entire bending moment. Modules
are assembled and launched over the gap with the help of a launching system. Bridge has
been designed using very high strength steel grades having yield strength of the order of
700 N/mm2 and 1100 N/mm2, later being used as tension flange to achieve minimum
possible weight. Corrugated web has been used instead of conventional flat plate web to
further reduce the weight. The bridge weighs around 620 kg/m and is carried on high
mobility trucks.
Mobile bridges are frequently used by Armed forces world over in assault and
other roles. Such bridges are often mechanized and are carried on suitable trucks having
mobility parameters matching with other accompanying equipment. Obstacles
encountered that need to be crossed vary in size and nature requiring the bridging system
to have necessary adaptability. Besides, longer single spans, high cross-country mobility
and easy reparability of such bridges under field conditions are factors that have guided
the R&D efforts of the defense scientists.
Use of high strength advanced materials has been an obvious choice for
development of mobile bridging systems with optimum weight. From use of mild steel in
1950’s, we have come a long way currently using steels with yield strengths ranging from
700 N/mm2 to 1100 N/mm2, High strength self ageing aluminum alloys like RDE-40
(UTS-400 N/mm2) and composite materials. For the design of the bridge under
discussion in this paper we have used steel plates with yield strengths 700 N/mm2 for
web & compression flanges and 1100 N/mm2 for tension flange. Design is done using
common flexural theory. Since only two longitudinal girders are used, distribution factors

Naresh Kumar & Vijayakumar N.B.

are worked out as reactions under eccentrically placed load. Most innovative feature of
the design is the use of corrugated web in 2mm plate, which has resulted in substantial
weight reduction.
Before discussing design aspects, we would briefly explain as to how this bridge
is launched across the gap to develop an appreciation of the complexities involved in the
system. Bridge is launched from home bank without any access to the far bank. To
achieve this, a launch girder is first placed across the gap in cantilever mode. Bridge
modules are then lifted from the career vehicles with the help of a dedicated crane
provided with the system and placed over the launch girder. Each module is joined to the
previous module after placing and pushed forward till the desired length is achieved.
Bridge is then lowered on to the Bank Seat Beams to relieve the load from the launch
girder. After use, bridge can be retrieved from either bank. Complete launching sequence
is schematically shown in fig.1.

Figure 1.
Qualitative requirements for which the bridge has been designed are in brief as
i) Single span -14 to 46m in steps of 6.5m
ii) Load class -MLC-70 for spans up to 40m &
MLC-40 for span of 46m
iii) Roadway width -4m
iv) Width in transportation -3m

Advances in Bridge Engineering, March 24 - 25, 2006

v) Overall height in transportation -3.9m

vi) Construction time -90 minutes for 46m bridge
To reduce the width during transportation to 3m from the roadway width of 4m,
longitudinal girders on either side are made foldable with respect to the central deck as
shown in the schematic cross-section in fig. 2.
Central deck


Longitudinal girders

Figure 2.

The central deck is connected to longitudinal girders through hinges on either

side. As a result it does not act monolithically and makes no contribution in carrying
compression due to overall bending of the bridge. Each longitudinal girder is built of two
corrugated web plate girders with common compression flange rigidly connected through
diaphragms at 2m spacing. Due to this, the bridge is assumed to behave as a two-girder
system and the maximum load carried by each girder is in proportion to the maximum
reaction on the girder under eccentrically placed load.
Keeping in view various requirements of the system, cross-section as shown in
Fig. 3 is adopted for each longitudinal girder. Trapezoidal stiffeners are used for the deck

Naresh Kumar & Vijayakumar N.B.

plate while web is made of trapezoidal corrugated plate. Deck stiffeners are designed as
continuous beams over diaphragms. To arrive at optimum design from weight
consideration, various possible cross-sections were tried out. Calculations are carried out
through Excel sheets for ease of repeatability.

82.5 80


3.2mm Deck stiffeners

Compression flange 3.2mm Deck plate

2.0 mm Corrugated. web 1350mm

Tension flange
(Weldox 1100)

Figure 3. Cross-section of the longitudinal girder.

Weldox 700 is used for all components other than the tension flange
Trapezoidal Deck Stiffeners
Trapezoidal deck stiffeners as shown in fig. 3 are sized in accordance with BS
5400 Part3 1982. Maximum bottom width and slant leg has been restricted to:
⇒ 29 × t s × mm
Where ‘ts’ is stiffener plate thickness & ‘fy’ is yield strength of steel plate in
Deck stiffeners have been designed as continuous beams over diaphragms
subjected to a track pressure of 0.097 N/mm2 from MLC 70 having a track length of
4.57m. Considering following load case with 1mm wide strip of stiffener we obtain a
maximum negative moment (over support) of 43600 N-mm and maximum positive

Advances in Bridge Engineering, March 24 - 25, 2006

moment of 29230 N-mm. Corresponding maximum compressive and tensile stresses in

the deck stiffeners are 356.6 N/mm2 and 213.7 N/mm2. These stresses are purposely kept
low, as the compressive stress due to overall bending of the girder will add to the above.
Longitudinal Girders
To compute design moments for different spans, loads and sections, moment
equations were written in terms of variables. Fig. 4 shows the variables used.


Figure 4.
Since for a applied UDL shorter than the span, the maximum moment occurs at a section
that divides the span and the load in the same proportion, a variable ‘c’ has been added
for ease of calculations. General equation for bending moment due to live load at a
section distant ‘x’ from one end can be written as-
⇒C =
W ( x − c + 0.5a )
⇒ RR ( L) x =
W ( x − c + 0.5a ) W
⇒ M= × ( L − x ) − ( a − c) 2 ×
L 2a
W(x − + 0.5a )
L ax W
Or, M = × ( L − x ) − (a − ) 2 ×
L L 2a
Multiplying the total live load moment by distribution factor and adding half the self-
weight moment for the bridge obtains design moment for each girder.
Corrugated web, due to its accordion construction is not considered carrying any
bending stresses and therefore the couple provided by tension and compression flanges
solely resists the applied moment. Also the bridge is designed in modules of 6.5m each
that are connected through jaws and pins at the tension flange and a tong & groove for

Naresh Kumar & Vijayakumar N.B.

shear transfer at the deck level as shown in fig. 5. Sectional properties and stress levels
are summarized in table1.
As shown in Fig. 1, the launch girder is placed across the gap in cantilever mode.
Weight of the launching vehicle provides the counter moment against overturning.
Weight of the launch girder is, therefore, a critical factor for the stability of the system.
Once the launch girder is placed over the gap, the bridge modules are placed and rolled
over it (see Fig. 6). Weight of the bridge modules therefore becomes the design load for
launch girder and as such the lighter the bridge the better. With that in mind, all efforts
are made to keep the weight to the lowest possible leading to exploring the use of steel
with yield strength as high as 1100 N/mm2 for the first time.
Table 1. Summary of design calculations for longitudinal girders
Roadway width 4m
Width of MLC-70 track load 3.51m
Length of MLC-70 track load 4.57m
Max load eccentricity w.r.t. the center line of the bridge 0.245m
Distribution factor with two longitudinal girders 0.572
Max Bending Moment for 40m effective span due to MLC-70 track 66x105 N-m
Self weight of the bridge including mud load 6500 N/m
Max self weight moment 13x105 N-m
Design moment for each girder (live load moment multiplied by 44.25x105 N-m
distribution factor plus half the self weight moment)
Yield strength of Weldox 700 used for all components other than 700 N/mm2
tension flange
Yield strength of Weldox 1100 used for tension flange 1100 N/mm2
Moment of inertia of the girder about neutral axis 5.142 x109mm4
Section modulus about top 9.657 x106mm3
Section modulus about bottom 6.290 x106mm3
Max compressive stress due to bending 457.7 N/mm2
Max tensile stress due to bending 702.7 N/mm2
Weight of the bridge including all mechanisms 39000 N/m

Advances in Bridge Engineering, March 24 - 25, 2006

Figure 5. Joining of two bridge modules Figure 6. Bridge module being rolled over
launch girder during trials
Use of very high strength steels and corrugated web has facilitated achieving a
weight of 39000 N/m of the bridge compared to 47000 N/m obtained without corrugated
web and by using steel of 700 N/mm2 yield strength alone. Very high strength steels hold
a good potential for application in structures and equipment where weight is a major
consideration specially the ones that are mobile. Corrugated webs are also finding more
and more use, as they are much stronger in resisting buckling compared to the
conventional flat plate web. Therefore, required plate thickness is much smaller in
corrugated webs giving weight saving in spite of the fact that they do not contribute in
resisting moment. Experimental stress analysis on a 13m girder having cross-section as
shown in fig. 3 is also being done to verify the behavior of the corrugated web.
Steels used for the design under discussion are however imported presently and
take 3 to 6 months for delivery with minimum order quantity of 3 ton in each plate
thickness. This may sometime be a limitation if the quantities required are small.
1. American Institute of Steel Construction, 1962. Design Manual for
CHICAGO, IL 60611.
2. BS:5400 - 3:2000, Steel, Concrete and Composite bridges - Code of Practice for
Design of Steel Bridges.