Structural Health Monitoring
What is structural health monitoring?
Structural health monitoring is the process of implementing a damage identification strategy by monitoring changes to the material and geometric properties of civil, aerospace, and mechanical engineering infrastructure. Structural health monitoring has many benefits.
Structural health monitoring reduces uncertainties
Owners of a structure have little information about the real state of the materials, the real loads acting on the structure, and about its ageing. When making decisions, the owners have no other choice than to assume the worst to keep the structure on the safe side. Monitoring gives the owner the ability to make informed decisions based on factual data. By reducing the uncertainty associated with the insured risk it can also reduce the insurance costs.
Structural health monitoring discovers hidden structural reserves
Most structures are in far better condition than expected. When taking advantage of over-design, better material properties, and synergetic effect it is possible to extend the lifetime or load-bearing capacity of a structure safely without any intervention. By doing this, the repair and replacement costs can be delayed.
Structural health monitoring discovers deficiencies in time and increases safety
Some deficiencies cannot be found by visual inspection or modelling. In these cases, it is important to undertake appropriate remedial or preventive actions before it gets worse. Repairing such a deficiency will be much cheaper and will cause less disruption to the use of the structure if it is done at the right time. Monitoring a structure gives permanent and reliable data to improve the safety of the structure and its users.
Structural health monitoring ensures long-term quality
Monitoring a structure provides continuous and quantitative data which helps in evaluating the quality of the structure during construction, operation, maintenance, and repair, thus eliminating the hidden costs of non-quality. Many of the damages and defects to a structure are build in during the process of construction. However, many of them will not be visible till years later, when repair is no longer covered by the contractor’s warranty. This makes repair much more expensive.
Structural health monitoring allows structural management
Monitoring data can increase the quality of decisions by providing reliable and unbiased information, therefore allowing owners to spend on maintenance and reconstruction when required and not only when budget allows it.
Structural health monitoring increases knowledge
Knowing how a structure performs in real conditions, will lead to performance-based designs in the future. This will bring about structures with increased reliability and performance, which are also cheaper, safer, and more durable. Investing in monitoring will lead to savings later in the project by discovering weaknesses in time and optimizing the design.