Earthquakes can’t really be predicted. There’s no option to batten down the hatches or even to lay in a good supply of milk and toilet paper when a big one is on its way. There are areas where earthquakes are more frequent and therefore more likely to take place, however, and it makes sense if you’re planning construction in one of those places to choose construction and materials with a good track record for making it through earthquakes in one piece.
You can’t wait around for earthquakes and then see how the buildings fared, though, any more than you can predict earthquakes. You need some way to test structures without waiting for a natural earthquake to create havoc for you to study.
That’s where the Laboratory of Earthquake Engineering and Dynamic Analysis (LEDA) at Kore University of Enna comes in.
Rexroth provided a solution in the form of seismic testing tables — tables that shake like an earthquake at a wide range of degrees of intensity. The tables needed to be able to bear loads of as much as 100 tonnes. The laboratory required six-degrees-of-freedom shaking tables to test both the horizontal and vertical loads of earthquakes. There are two tables, so they can be used independently or at the same time to illustrate different scenarios.
At the same time, the building where the lab is located is also the site of offices, which must be kept safe from the dynamic forces being tested. Actually creating earthquakes would be impractical.
Need for European testing
Earthquakes in Europe are often more destructive than those in Japan and the United States, say the researchers who obtained funding for LEDA< which is located in Italy. One reason may be that seismic testing facilities in the the U.S. and in Japan are more available and more advanced. LEDA, ended by a grant from the Italian government, narrows the gap.
The system was designed by Bosch Rexroth specifically for LEDA. It can duplicate the conditions of historic earthquakes precisely, allowing intensive research. It can also help to determine the kinds of actions needed to safeguard historic artifacts and treasures in museums.
Of course, one of the main uses for the lab is to plan safety measures for earthquake-prone areas.
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