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24-hour monitoring of Turkish historic mausoleum

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In Turkish culture, the Dance of the Whirling Dervishes is one of the most iconic of images. The dance is performed in remembrance of the Turkish poet Rumi, a revered holy man who died December 17, 1273 and was laid to rest next to his father in Konya, in present day Turkey.

Seven hundred years passed and the country’s shifting geology has taken a destructive toll on the mausoleum.

Professor Ferruh Yildiz of the Selcuk University was quick to look into ways of monitoring the movement of the structure. Local Topcon dealer Paksoy introduced him to the Singapore-based company Monitoring Solutions Provider (MSP) to analyze the structure and the movement that was undermining its integrity.

In May 2011, an MSP work crew made their first site visit to assess the location and determine how they could best monitor the situation. Part of the challenge the museum faced was a lack of skilled staff – naturally, there were no trained surveyors on the payroll. The prospect of bringing in contractors to make frequent assessments would have put their limited budgets under huge strain. With Turkey’s volatile terrain they needed monitoring around-the-clock too, which would have been impossible with traditional survey monitoring, which relies on daylight. Precision was also a vital concern – millimeter-precise measurements were required to make sure the building was safe.

MSP suggested they use their RAPID Automatic Deformation Monitoring System. It would offer 24-hour monitoring based around two Topcon MS1AX units – one fixed on a wall and the other in the grounds. In total, 48 prisms would then be mounted around the instruments at critical points, with three per unit outside the expected zone of movement as reference points. The system would be connected to the Internet through an on-site computer. Instant reports could then be accessed online by museum staff and an alarm raised automatically if movement was detected.

In October 2011 an MSP team arrived at Mevlana; the team included people from Topcon and Paksoy. The group of nine took just two days to set up and certify the system. A specially made marble pillar had been erected to take the connection. The on-site computer was then linked to their offices in Singapore over the Internet and engineers based in those offices began calibrating and testing the equipment.

“One of the big advantages for our customers is that they do not need their own technical staff, we can provide that support for them around-the-clock.”

Kenny, Managing Director

Working with the museum staff they agreed on three specific trigger levels – 10 mm, 15 mm and 20 mm of movement. Using traditional methods of survey monitoring the expected margin for error would be ± 3 to 5 mm. For the museum, that could mean the building had reached a critical level, while their measurements were still reporting only a lesser danger level, potentially jeopardizing both the structure and the safety of people in it. The Topcon MS1AX offered them ± 1 mm, as well as provided a greater degree of consistency throughout the measurements.

With the fixed positions they could be confident that any measurements were directly comparable with previous ones and no systematic or human error was encountered.

If the building reached the pre-determined triggers, staff decided they did not want an audible alarm system. Rather, they opted for a warning light in the control room and text messages to be automatically sent out to selected people. Because all the information from the station is processed by computer, it is instantly analyzed, meaning there would be virtually no lag between making a reading and the alarm being triggered.

Once the installation and calibration was complete, Paksoy and museum staff headed to Ankara for a training day on the system. Less than 72 hours after the team arrived on site at Mevlana, the units were up and fully operational, staff were trained to use them and the project was handed over to the museum staff.

One thing that surprised the museum staff about MSP was their commitment to 24-hour support. With the time difference between Singapore and Turkey, they were concerned about whether they would be able to get to speak to an expert if they had questions or issues. However, being based in Singapore, MSP are used to working in the banking culture and staff members are no strangers to living and sleeping in their offices. Managing Director Kenny said, “We are used to providing support when the client needs it, no matter what the local time is – it is a very normal thing for us to do. One of the big advantages for our customers is that they do not need their own technical staff, we can provide that support for them around-the-clock.”

The future of the revered poet’s resting place is as stable as Turkey’s ever-moving lands, but with the MSP system in place there’s now a constant eye to aid in protection of the mausoleum.