The problem of vibration induced structural faults has been a real one in engineering over the years. If left unchecked it has led to the unexpected failures of so many structures. Needless to say, this has caused both economic and human life losses. Therefore for over forty years, structural damage identification has been one of the important research areas for engineers. There has been a thrust to develop global structural damage identification techniques to complement and/or supplement the long-practised local experimental techniques. In that respect, studies have shown that vibration-based techniques prove to be more potent. Most of the existing vibration-based techniques monitor changes in modal properties like natural frequencies, damping factors and mode shapes of the structural system to infer the presence of structural damage. Literature also reports other techniques which monitor changes in other vibration quantities like the frequency response functions, transmissibility functions and time-domain responses. However, none of these techniques provide a complete identification of structural damage. This study presents a damage detection technique based on operational response monitoring, which can identify all the four levels of structural damage and be implemented as a continuous structural health monitoring technique. The technique is based on monitoring changes in internal data variability measured by a test statistic <font face="symbol">c</font>2Ovalue. Structural normality is assumed when the <font face="symbol">c</font>2Om value calculated from a fresh set of measured data is within the limits prescribed by a threshold <font face="symbol">c</font>2OTH value . On the other hand, abnormality is assumed when this threshold value has been exceeded. The quantity of damage is determined by matching the <font face="symbol">c</font>2Om value with the <font face="symbol">c</font>2Op values predicted using a benchmark finite element model. The use of <font face="symbol">c</font>2O values is noted to provide better sensitivity to structural damage than the natural frequency shift technique. The analysis carried out on a numerical study showed that the sensitivity of the proposed technique ranged from three to thousand times as much as the sensitivity of the natural frequencies. The results from a laboratory structure showed that accurate estimates of damage quantity and remaining service life could be achieved for crack lengths of less than 0.55 the structural thickness. This was due to the fact that linear elastic fracture mechanics theory was applicable up to this value. Therefore, the study achieved its main objective of identifying all four levels of structural damage using operational response changes.
Dissertation (MSc (Mechanics))--University of Pretoria, 2007.