Scanning laser–Doppler vibrometry (SLDV) can localize and visualize damages in mechanical structures. In order to enable scanning, it is necessary to repeat the vibration. Therefore, this technique is not suited to detect emerging hazards in working machinery that change the vibration behavior. A common technique for such cases is monitoring the vibration excited by machine operation with accelerometers. This technique requires mechanical coupling between sensors and the measurement object, which influences the high-frequency vibration responses. However, in the low-frequency range, local damages do not shift resonances or distort operational deflection shapes (ODS) significantly. These alterations in the vibration behavior are tiny and hard to detect. This paper shows that multipoint laservibrometry (MPV) with laser excitation can measure these effects efficiently, and it further demonstrates that damages influence ODSs at frequencies above 20 kHz much stronger than at frequencies below 20 kHz. In addition, ODS-based damage indices are discussed; these are highly sensitive to minute visible changes of the ODSs. In order to enhance the sensitivity of hazard detection, the response vector assurance criterion value is computed and evaluated during operation. The capabilities and limitations of the methodology on the example of a cantilever with manually emerging damage are demonstrated.
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