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WIRELESS STRUCTURAL SENSING. Wireless sensor networks have come to stay

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[WirelessStructuralSensing]Commercial_sheet_UPM_EN(Innovatech) PDF

Structural monitoring system based on the impedance method using wireless sensor networks.

The diagnosis and early detection of structural damage is essential to improve the structural integrity and provide suitable maintenance actions able to prevent possible future catastrophes. By performing impedance tests, severity and location of structural deterioration can be predicted before the damage reaches to a critical state. The capacity of these tests to characterize different types of structural damage in comparison to other methodologies has been demonstrated after more than one decade of research. However, the traditional wire-based monitoring systems are expensive, inefficient and difficult to implement. Wireless Structural Sensing is a monitoring system which provides a significant cost reduction and ease of application. The use of a wireless sensor network able to perform impedance tests eradicates the need for deployment and maintenance of long cables. Additionally, the system can be remotely controlled optimizing the life-cycle maintenance of a structure.

Technology Solution

The proposed solution is based on monitoring the integrity of a structure using electromechanical impedance tests.

Piezoelectric materials are used as actuators to provide driving signals on the structure as well as sensing providing a self-diagnostic component minimizing maintenance and inspection cycles.

The wireless data collection from these tests makes posible a remote analysis able to predict the location and severity of posible damages in the structure.

Through a continuous monitoring of a structure a more efficient maintenance can be performed to improve its safety.

A continuous structural monitoring system improves the maintenance of a structure


Market demands

  • Predictions from nondestructive inspection techniques can be very variable depending on the operator. An automatable system for damage identification would allow decreasing the subjectivity of the inspections simplifying, in this way, the design of the repair measures.
  • Society demands for the reduction of accidents caused by structural failures and collapses. To reach this, structural maintenance tasks must be implemented.
  • The scale of some structures makes difficult their inspection and evaluation tasks.
  • Monitoring of large scale structures requires the implementation of more dense sensor networks, but also less expensive and easy to install.
  • Structural maintenance costs can become higher than the initial construction costs barely some decades later  from the moment the structure is in operation. The implementation of more effective and economical maintenance policies able to extend the life-cycle of structural systems are needed.
Market potential

  • Repair costs in aeronautical and naval engineering can double transportation costs. These costs might be decreased considerably using a suitable monitoring system.
  • According to the National Bridge Inventory, over 40% of road bridges in USA are structurally deficient. The cost of their rehabilitation and replacement is over 7000 M$ annually.
  • Over 2000 M€ are budgeted annually in Europe for maintenance of road bridges; it is approximately 400% of costs allocated for construction of new bridges. It is estimated that from 2020 the maintenance cost should be reduced progressively using more efficient maintenance policies.


"Structural monitoring using wired systems requires high costs and long deployment time no viable in large-scale structures"

Competitive advantages

  • The implementation of monitoring systems based on wireless sensor networks is an economical alternative to the traditional wired monitoring systems.
  • Costs associated to the installation and maintenance of cables are removed.
  • The manufacturing cost of the sensor nodes of the proposed wireless network are very low in comparison with the traditional impedance analyzers. Additionally, they are more compact and light weight.
  • Difficult access areas for wire-based monitoring can be monitored
  • In contrast to passive sensors, the use of active sensors makes possible the interrogation of the structure when needed.

  • More than one decade of research concerned with the implementation and development of structural damage identification methodologies. Finantial support received from several I+D+i projects.
  • Good lab results reached with the proposed system on several structures with different damage typologies.

  • Patent applied in Spain P201730734
Development stage

  • Concept
  • R & D
  • Lab Prototype
  • Industrial Prototype
  • Production

Contact Wireless Structural Sensing

Ricardo Perera Velamazán, Alberto Pérez Calleja

ETSI Industriales  - UPM

e: ricardo.perera@upm.es, alberto.perez.calleja@gmail.com

UPM contact

Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Area

Centre of Support for Technological Innovation – UPM

e: innovacion.tecnologica@upm.es

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