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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2012

Michael V. Gangone, Matthew J. Whelan, Kerop D. Janoyan and Levon Minnetyan

The purpose of this paper is to further validate a wireless sensor system developed at Clarkson University for structural monitoring of highway bridges. The particular…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to further validate a wireless sensor system developed at Clarkson University for structural monitoring of highway bridges. The particular bridge monitored employs a fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) panel system which is fairly innovative in the field of civil engineering design. The superstructure was monitored on two separate occasions to determine a change in structural response and see how the structural system performs over time.

Design/methodology/approach

A series of wireless sensor units was deployed at various locations of the steel superstructure, to measure both the modal response from acceleration measurements as well as quasi‐static and dynamic strain response. Ambient and forced loading conditions were applied to measure the response. Data results were compared over two separate periods approximately nine months apart.

Findings

The first eight mode shapes were produced from output‐only system identification providing natural frequencies ranging from approximately 6 to 42 Hz. The strain response was monitored over two different testing periods to measure various performance characteristics. Neutral axis, distribution factor, impact factor and end fixity were determined. Results appeared to be different over the two testing periods. They indicate that the load rating of the superstructure decreased over the nine month period, possibly due to deterioration of the materials or composite action.

Research limitations/implications

The results from the two testing periods indicate that further testing needs to be completed to validate the change in response. It is difficult to say with certainty that the significant change in response is due to bridge deterioration and not other factors such as temperature effects on load rating. The sensor system, however, proved to provide high quality data and responses indicating its successful deployment for load testing and monitoring of highway infrastructure.

Originality/value

The paper provides a depiction of the change in structural behavior of a bridge superstructure using a wireless sensor system. The wireless system provided high‐rate data transmission in real time. Load testing at two different points in time, eight months apart, showed a significant change in bridge behavior. The paper provides a practical and actual physical load test and rating during these two periods for quantifiable change in response. It is shown that the wireless system is capable of infrastructure monitoring and that possible deterioration is expected with this particular bridge design. Additionally, the load testing occurred during different seasons, which could create cause for temperature effects in load rating. This can provide a basis for future performance monitoring techniques and structural health monitoring.

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