Laying the foundations for the next generation of structural health monitoring
The first step towards creating a simple method to understand Structural Health Monitoring systems is being taken by NPL – the development of industrial demonstrators for renewable energy and civil engineering structures.
There is a wide industrial need for predictive systems that can monitor structures and inform the asset holders on their state of structural health. These structures include bridges, buildings, power plants, aircraft, chemical plants and more - all of great economic importance to the UK. Even just considering bridges, a simple and clear indication of the structural health will provide substantial economic benefits since there are over 10,000 bridges worth more than £1M each in the UK alone.
This project (Enabling the Next Generation of Structural Health Monitoring: Demonstrator, Validation and Best Practice) is a first step in the measurement grand challenge of creating an SHM (Structural Health Monitoring) system as simple to understand as a traffic light system. This system could provide early warning of potential problems and be a sophisticated indicator of the structure’s current lifetime. This would lead to cheaper maintenance, lower running costs and provide advanced warning of failure, leading to enhanced safety.
The purpose of this project is to accelerate the uptake of combined and multi-modal monitoring methods that support total life-cycle management of user-critical devices, structures and systems. This will be achieved by developing industrial demonstrators for renewable energy (wind turbines) and civil engineering structures (e.g. bridges, buildings). The selection of the demonstrators has been influenced by NPL’s ability to cover several different material systems, including metallic, composite, and concrete. Sensor types will include full field displacement measurements provided by Digital Image Correlation (DIC) and embedded sensors such as fibre Bragg gratings and wireless sensing.