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What is Structural Monitoring?
Structural monitoring is defined as the process of implementing a damage detection and characterization strategy for engineering structures. Here, damage is defined as changes to the material and/or geometric properties of a structural system, including changes to the boundary conditions and system connectivity, which adversely affect the system’s performance.
Structural monitoring is done to ensure safety of existing buildings and infrastructures. The aim is to assist and keep the contractor, designer, and owner informed about continued performance of structures under gradual or sudden changes to their state. The main purpose can be listed as follows:
- Observation of a structure over time using an array of sensors
- Collection of actual and critical data from the structures and real world
- Statistical analysis of parameters to determine the current condition of structures
- Generating conclusions of any failure or unsafe conditions of structures
Why is Structural Monitoring Required?
Large civil engineering structures like buildings, bridges, retaining walls and towers are susceptible to damage from extreme loads such as wind and wind-borne debris, floods, fires, earthquakes, undermining from adjacent construction, landslides, and overloading with heavy contents.
Moreover, those same structures can suffer long-term damage if their strength is allowed to deteriorate gradually over time. Examples of such deterioration include metal corrosion, wood decay, and concrete attack by adverse chemicals, or cumulative damage from fatigue, foundation settlement, slope creep, etc.
Existing high rise buildings, bridges, and tunnels can also be affected by any construction activity in close vicinity, especially by nearby deep excavations.
Depending on importance, ownership, use, risk, and hazard, such structures have inspection, monitoring, and maintenance programs which may even by mandated by law. Repair of damage is very costly. Structural monitoring can mitigate high repair costs by detecting and measuring damaging phenomena as they occur
Monitoring Solutions for Structural Monitoring
The structural monitoring program basically consists of geotechnical sensors, geodetic surveying, and laser scanning. It protects and ensures:
- The life and physical integrity of employees and the general public
- Damage to other property and to the mechanical equipment
- Loss of facility, public, and private property
- The project itself
For monitoring any infrastructure project, whether it’s a high rise building, metro, tunnel, airport, seaport, dam, bridge, or landslide area, six parameters are universally monitored: pressure, deformation, force, temperature, vibration, and environment.
The following sensors are most commonly used with advanced data logging and database management to monitor the required parameters:
- Pressure: Water level sensor, piezometer, stress cell, uplift pressure meter, etc.
- Deformation: Digital inclinometer, in-place inclinometers, tilt meter, beam sensors, borehole extensometer, crack meters, convergence cell, prism, settlement point, etc.
- Force: Load cell, strain gauge, reinforced bar sensor, etc.
- Temperature: Thermistor, Thermocouple, RTD, etc.
- Vibration: Accelerometer/velocity sensor, geophone, seismograph, etc.
- Environment: Wind velocity, humidity, rainfall, temperature
Why Use Automatic and Real Time Web-based Monitoring?
The top five reasons to use automatic and real time web-based monitoring include:
- Failure can occur rapidly with little visible warning, even for an excavation that has been stable for years. In case of real time data you have the data available to you at any given time. In case the data crosses the green level, you can increase the frequency of data-taking with just a click of a button.
- Failure may be avoided using preventative actions if you have adequate warning.
- Consequences can be reduced significantly if you have a reliable warning
- With real-time monitoring, you’re better able to connect cause and effect.
- You can rapidly deliver evaluated data to those with need to know in a form it can be quickly evaluated and responded to.