SHM – Structural Health Monitoring is the name given to the process of implementing a damage detection strategy for aerospace, civil and mechanical engineering infrastructure. In layman’s terms, this means using sensors to provide measurements from a structure or mechanical system. The measurements are analysed, generally with statistical methods, to identify any damage or deterioration in the structure or system and to make an assessment of the current condition. Condition monitoring is SHM of rotating machinery and is more established than the application of SHM to other structures and systems.
A variety of SHM sensors may be attached to or embedded in a structure to monitor damage, loads and environmental conditions which have a direct impact on the structural integrity of the structure. Fibre optic SHM sensors are applied to composite materials to measure strain and temperature. Acoustical SHM sensors are used for acoustic emission detection or guided wave techniques. SHM systems look to detect and interpret changes in a structure.
Like all defect detection techniques, SHM has its benefits and its drawbacks. Successful implementation of SHM can support condition-based maintenance, reduce life-cycle costs and improve safety. The advantages over conventional NDT are:
- No access to the inspection area required;
- Safe inspection of hazardous areas;
- Continuous online monitoring of many locations at the same time; and
- Reduced influence of the human factor on inspection results.
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