Structural Monitoring Applications

Posted on December 5th, 2016 by vapro

The main purpose of monitoring civil structures is to support regular visual examinations or inspections based on non-destructive testing techniques. Sensor networks can be used to monitor a certain region of a structure providing data about different physical measures. Some properties to be measured in-situ are the Eigenvibrations of the structure, humidity and temperature outside and inside the structure, unusual stress and strain, and the detection of cracks and other deteriorations.

Continuous structural health monitoring provides data from the inside of a structure to better understand its structural performance and to predict its durability and remaining lifetime. There are a significant number of factors that influence structure life including loading, fatigue, corrosion and temperature cycling. One example of an application is bridges that currently endure higher static and dynamic loads than for which they were designed. Another example is structures that were built 50 or 60 years ago that today have exceeded the expected lifetime. There are many cases of structures designed with old seismic codes that do not match with the actual requirements, and have not yet been retrofitted.

The complex instrumentation on new and existing structures not only monitors the structure’s response to seismic activity based on time-lapse observations and early warning systems, but also enables rapid deployment and prioritized inspections to address the need for safe and cost-effective operation of structures.

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The sensors normally required to monitor and evaluate the structural health are the following:

  • Accelerometers
  • Strain meters
  • Vibrating wire strain gauges
  • Inclinometers
  • Crack and joint sensors
  • Tilt sensors
  • Temperature and humidity

The systems may be permanently or temporarily installed and continuously or periodically monitored.


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