Condition-based maintenance refers to the installation of permanent sensors on a structure/system. By means of early fault detection, severe damage can be avoided, allowing efficient timing of maintenance works and avoiding unnecessary inspections at the same time. These are the goals for structural health monitoring (SHM). The changes caused by incipient damage on raw data collected by sensors are quite small, and are usually contaminated by noise and varying environmental factors, so the algorithms used to extract information from sensor data need to focus on sensitive damage features. The developments of SHM techniques over the last 20 years have been more related to algorithm improvements than to sensor progress, which essentially have been maintained without major conceptual changes (with regards to accelerometers, piezoelectric wafers, and fiber optic sensors). The main different SHM systems (vibration methods, strain-based fiber optics methods, guided waves, acoustic emission, and nanoparticle-doped resins) are reviewed, and the main issues to be solved are identified. Reliability is the key question, and can only be demonstrated through a probability of detection (POD) analysis. Attention has only been paid to this issue over the last ten years, but now it is a growing trend. Simulation of the SHM system is needed in order to reduce the number of experiments.
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