Can Structural Health Monitoring Really Help Extend the Life of a Building?
What is Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)?
Buildings need to be maintained against many factors such environmental factors, deterioration, and everyday wear and use. Structural Monitoring is a technique that has emerged to help monitor the ongoing and continuing health of a structure, finding potential problems and issues before they become too severe to be adequately dealt with. Structural health monitoring works by monitoring embedded sensors to the envelope of the building that monitor deformation, pressure, temperature, as well as damage to the structure. Many types of sensors exist including fiber optic sensors, corrosion sensors, and concrete bar sensors. When subjected to external strains, the sensors can allow for real-time damage assessment. Sensors can allow for remote monitoring by engineers to help them to determine when a building, or aspect of a building, may need repair or replacement.
What does SHM look for?
Structural Health Monitoring is capable of monitoring the humidity, temperature, corrosive potential, strains, vibrations and other conditions of concrete structures. This information allows engineers to accurately assess and predict if and when a concrete structure may need maintenance or even replacement.
Benefits of SHM
One of the primary benefits of SHM is its ability to extend the life of a structure. Because SHM can provide early warning signs of future problems, these problems can be proactively dealt with before they become major issues, saving money and possibly even the life of the concrete structure.
Structural Health Monitoring can tell an owner not only when repair is an option, but also when concrete replacement is necessary. This can potentially be life-saving, as concrete structures such as bridges and Dams can be properly monitored have concrete sections replaced on an ongoing basis, preventing possible catastrophic failure.
The development of these new SHM technologies is vital in helping to extend the life of a concrete building.