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STRUCTURAL HEALTH MONITORING – GREATER SAFETY AND LOWER COSTS

Detecting potential weaknesses in the building structure before damage occurs: “Predictive maintenance” is already a very familiar concept in industry. MEMS inertial sensors enable you to apply this concept to the condition monitoring of buildings, production systems and even vehicles.

Humans are creative and innovative. They build structures, even ones designed to last “for ever”: residential complexes, business districts, factories and power plants. And they develop machinery, aircraft and vehicles, subways, local and national transport infrastructure and bridges that cross not only valleys and rivers but also entire sea straits.

Safety is everything – whether we’re at home, at work or just out and about. And this is why all these human-made structures have to undergo regular inspection and maintenance.

After all, they are not only constantly exposed to the elements, but also subject to natural aging processes, geological changes and the wear and tear of daily use. And as disasters like the collapse in 2018 of the Polcevera viaduct in Genoa, Italy, so horrifyingly demonstrate, it is absolutely critical that buildings and structures undergo continuous monitoring for signs of material fatigue and wear as well as changes in infrastructural conditions.

Structural health monitoring enhances safety and reduces operating costs – a clear competitive edge!

Whether you’re a system operator, building owner or the person responsible for planning construction, production and maintenance measures, structural health monitoring is the perfect solution for anyone involved in designing structures of all kinds or manufacturing machinery and vehicles.

An unbeatable advantage: Structural health monitoring foresees potential problems before they have a chance to cause actual damage. This is all thanks to intelligent sensors that detect even the tiniest of changes to the building or machine structure. This ensures much more than just significantly enhanced safety, because it also allows you to drastically reduce maintenance costs – for example, by replacing specific, individual components potentially susceptible to damage before they can affect other components.

What is structural health monitoring?

The condition monitoring of buildings, structures, machinery and vehicles – or “structural health monitoring” – is a method of recording, processing and evaluating measurement data to detect structural changes, damage and critical stress levels at an early stage. This is designed to ensure functional capability, safety and smooth operation while at the same time reducing technological and financial outlay.

A dense network of micromechanical inertial sensors registers the following:

• Tiny deformations
• Bending in supporting structures
• Tilting of buildings

This ensures that any signs of wear and tear or aging processes caused by stress and exposure to the elements are instantly registered.
The system is designed for not only buildings, bridges, wind turbines, high-current cables and duct systems, but also commercial vehicles and production systems.

Where is structural health monitoring particularly helpful?

Boiling summers, freezing winters, extreme humidity and extended periods of drought: now more than ever, buildings and structures are exposed to huge climatic fluctuations that place enormous stresses on the materials and components used in their construction. On top of that are the normal aging processes and the wear and tear caused when structures are placed under undue strain, like when a bridge is crossed by a truck weighing more than the bridge is designed to support.

Especially in the energy supply and transport network, maximum availability is essential for maintaining cost-effective, logistical and local processes and cycles. Even in extreme situations like storms or earthquakes, structural health monitoring helps to avoid and/or identify damage and creates transparency.

How can structural health monitoring help to cut costs?

Conventional schedule-based maintenance is performed at regular intervals – regardless of the actual condition of the building or machinery – to keep damage and malfunctions at bay. This scattergun approach results in unnecessary costs, either because maintenance work would not have been necessary at the agreed time or because damage remains undetected over an extended period, in turn necessitating expensive repairs.

Structural health monitoring ensures condition-based maintenance.

Online monitoring and remote maintenance – an efficient and cost-effective maintenance strategy

Windkraftanlage

Digitalization also encompasses the maintenance of buildings, systems, machinery and structures of all kinds. Ongoing structural health monitoring using highly sensitive sensors enables easy online monitoring on PCs and mobile devices – anytime, anywhere. Technicians and engineers no longer absolutely have to be on site to do their job. Remote maintenance concepts offer huge benefits and cost savings here, too – and not just for offshore systems.

In a wind turbine, for example, a central data module continuously transmits data relating to the structural conditions. Over the long term, cloud solutions allow this structural health monitoring data to be collected, evaluated and deployed for predictive maintenance.

First Sensor as a solution provider for structural health monitoring

Brückenüberwachung

First Sensor is more than merely a manufacturer of sensors, although our sensors ultimately form the basis of our diverse and customized complete solutions.

Our sensors record, for example, the bending of wind turbines as well as the vibrations and vibrational frequencies of bridges. This allows structural health to be monitored and any necessary maintenance measures initiated.

Benefits in daily operation: The control center team learns to interpret the structural health monitoring data and to optimize the settings so that structural stressing and, in turn, maintenance costs are kept to a minimum. The sensor data provides bridge-builders with reliable information that allows them to decide whether a bridge needs to be renovated or completely rebuilt.

Why make First Sensor your partner of choice for structural health monitoring?

Inertial MEMS sensors from First Sensor may be tiny and cost-saving, but their performance is every bit the match of larger, conventional sensors. They are capable of detecting two spatial directions. First Sensor customizes its sensors in line with different applications. The modular design means that, if necessary, even highly complex multi-sensor systems can be easily configured.

Quality criteria for sensors in the construction sector

  • High signal-to-noise ratio
  • Temperature stability
  • Minimal acceleration differences
  • Minimal cross-sensitivity

Inertial sensors from First Sensor in structural monitoring

With its new generation of high-accuracy capacitive silicon inertial sensors, First Sensor covers a wide range of smart structural monitoring applications. The new sensors offer the resolution and low noise density required for recording vibrations or changes of inclination on wind turbines, bridges and high-rises, allowing potential structural or material risks to be identified early on. The sensors for measuring tilt, acceleration and vibration comprise a silicon sensor element produced in a patented micromechanical process (HARMS, AIM) as well as an ASIC signal processing system installed in a hermetically sealed SMD housing.

Find out more about this patented procedure in the press release.

Remote structural monitoring with smart sensors can be deployed for continuously monitoring and analyzing the condition of buildings, bridges and wind turbines and the stresses to which they are subjected. To perform these tasks, the inertial sensors from First Sensor achieve resolutions of 10 µg or 0.0005° (2 arc seconds) depending on the bandwidth.

Keen to learn more about structural health monitoring with solutions from First Sensor?

Contact our experts for an informal consultation. Please provide us with some general information about your application and the associated processes. We will get back to you within no more than three days.
Company
First Sensor is one of the world's leading suppliers in the field of sensor systems. In the growth market of sensor systems, First Sensor develops and produces customer-specific solutions for the ever-increasing number of applications in the industrial, medical, and mobility target markets. Our goal here is to identify, meet and solve the challenges of the future with our innovative sensor solutions early on.
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Our investor relations activities aim at raising the international publicity of First Sensor AG and at consolidating and extending the perception of our share as an attractive growth stock. This means we keep our online communication transparent, comprehensive and continuous in order to enhance your trust in our share.
Tailored Solutions
In the growth market of sensor systems, First Sensor develops and produces customer-specific sensors, electronics, modules and complex systems for the ever-increasing number of applications in the industrial, medical, and mobility target markets. As a solution provider the company offers complete development services from a first draft and proof of concept up to the development of prototypes and finally serial production. First Sensor offers comprehensive development expertise, state-of-the-art packaging technologies and production capacities in clean rooms from ISO class 8 to 5.
Competencies
In the growth market of sensor systems, First Sensor develops and produces customer-specific sensors, electronics, modules and complex systems for the ever-increasing number of applications in the industrial, medical, and mobility target markets. As a solution provider the company offers complete development services from a first draft and proof of concept up to the development of prototypes and finally serial production. First Sensor offers comprehensive development expertise, state-of-the-art packaging technologies and production capacities in clean rooms from ISO class 8 to 5.
Career
Innovation, excellence, proximity – these are our values, our ambition, our drive. Anything less is not an option. Our sensor solutions stand for technical innovation and economic growth. As such, they form the basis for the development and application of new technologies in almost all areas of life. We aim to shape this future together with you.

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