Structural health monitoring (SHM) is a relatively new scientific field that aims at providing reliable data concerning the integrity of various structures, for their use or to indicate the need for repair or retirement. SHM is the process of implementing a damage detection and characterization strategy for engineering structures. It allows for the predictive maintenance of machines and structures, rather than preventive maintenance in which the systems must be turned off regularly for a complete inspection. SHM guarantees that the machines can keep working for an extended period of time.
There are three basic steps to implement the SHM methodology:
• Selection of appropriate locations for sensor installation: This step involves numerical simulation of the expected structural behavior to identify critical locations where to install the sensors.
• Data collection: This step usually occurs under both normal operational and maximum loading conditions. Accurate knowledge of the loading conditions is required to make reliable comparisons with standard behavior. With the data collected, it is possible to perform a statistical study to define the normal functionality of the structure.
• Comparison of retrieved measurements versus standard behavior: This step is normally performed by an algorithm that compares instantaneous collected data with those considered normal behavior. In case of mismatching from a predefined level, the software decides whether a structural failure may occur, and warnings and alarms are sounded.
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