Innovate UK. Developing a satellite-structural health monitoring system.

THINKLab - Innovate UK

Owners of large assets such as nuclear plants and transport infrastructure require reliable, long-term monitoring and assessment of their asset’s performance and condition. This allows them to schedule maintenance in a timely fashion and make sure the asset is safe and productive for as long as possible.

Traditional methods of surveying are expensive, time consuming and only provide a snapshot of the asset’s condition on a specific date and time.

The application of structural health monitoring techniques provide increased accuracy over existing survey methods by using a variety of in-situ sensing techniques such as accelerometers, strain gauges and displacement sensors to assess the health of the asset.

This project involved the development of the tools necessary to allow a satellite- structural health monitoring product and service to be offered. Satellite remote sensing makes sense when looking at large infrastructure assets because it takes advantage of a technology called InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar). This is a technique for mapping deformation of the Earth’s surface using radar satellite images and it can be used to detect millimeter-scale displacement of physical structures.

Since satellites can image many thousands of square kilometers in one pass, it’s potentially possible to assess the structural health of a multitude of assets in a single pass. This would result in a lower cost per asset as well as access to assets that are not frequently assessed.

Our Solution

Working together with our project partners, we helped to develop the workflow and tools necessary to allow satellite derived ground displacement measurements to give a measured status to elements of a building information model of the structure.

We also created a structural analysis tool that informed the health of the structure and advised of any areas of concern.

Finally we developed a platform that pulled data from the satellite, Building Information Model and structural health monitoring engineers into one place, allowing the user to explore a model of the asset through an interactive visual interface.

The structural health-monitoring platform was validated via case studies with Transport for London and EDF's Hinkley Point B &C site.