How did you come to be involved in this project?
I have conducted my master degree research in the field of concrete damage and rehabilitation in one of the
most famous technological universities of Iran. Since my ex-supervisor was a colleague of my current supervisor,
Dr. Shami Nejadi, in many research and industrial projects, Dr. Nejadi invited me to join his research program
that he has proposed for the new FEIT [Broadway] building .
What sort of changes does the inclusion of sensors have on traditional building practices?
The commissioning, maintenance and repair of civil structures frequently involve vast amounts of resources in
terms of labour, materials and finance. Increasingly, in view of the extensive investment required to commission
new civil engineering projects, existing structures are being recommissioned to allow them to remain in service
for periods in excess of their planned operational life. However, in extending the life of these structures, it is
imperative that proper attention is given to ensuring their safe operation under all loading conditions. Although
the occurrence of structural failures resulting in a large number of casualties is rare, it is vital to incorporate
appropriate monitoring capabilities into these structures. It is clear that the development and application of
instrumentation and sensors to monitor the integrity of such structures represent an important step in ensuring an
effective maintenance programme. The availability of such diagnostic information should evidently provide an
early indication of damage initiation and impending failure.
Traditionally, after construction and finalising the finishing in building, there is no access and possibility of
monitoring and recording the time dependent structural behaviour under the day to day service loads and even
under the fluctuating environmental conditions of the structures. The sensors are electronic devices and tools
that allow us to monitor and record the strain, stress, deflection, cracking and detrition of the most critical parts
of the building continuously with high accuracy.
This capability of the sensors is a great aid for the main challenge of performance based design of building that
is a matter of interest in modern construction technologies and economic aspects of construction.
Do you think this is a project that’s going to have an impact on wider engineering practices?
In the last decade, an increasing shift from investments in the construction of new infrastructures to the
maintenance and lifetime extension of the existing ones has taken place. For more than a decade, the
performance-based design approach has been promoted as an alternative to traditional or prescriptive building
codes. However, performance-based design has been increasing in popularity due to situations where
prescriptive codes don’t adequately address or meet the design needs of a more unique facility. Some would
agree that building codes just have not kept pace with technological innovation and current construction
practices. In a performance based approach the focus of all decisions is on demand requirements and on required
performance in use.
There is no experience of in situ monitoring of building in the world. This research includes the in situ monitoring of an especial and giant building from the initiation of the construction, i.e. establishing the foundation, finishing and long term behaviour of building in its lifetime. It should be noted that sometimes, buildings suffer more from construction loads than sustaining loads after construction. Any data obtained from each period of long term monitoring of this building is a benchmark for demand and capacity for any building technology and construction and design codes verification and revise.
If stresses or faults are detected, what sort of action can be taken to correct that?
Structural health monitoring is certainly one of the most powerful methods for infrastructure management, as witnessed by the recent technical and scientific literature. Structural health monitoring seems to close the gap between the traditional world of structural engineering and the frenetic one of information technology. Monitoring includes the observation of deformations as well as environmentally induced effects.
This building is ductile and never collapses or fails due to sudden fault or exceeding stress and strain in joints and main load carrying members. On the other hand continuously monitoring of the building alert us about any possibility of damage occurrence and undesired event in hidden parts of building.
Consequently, even if there is a detected fault or damage, there will be in advance alert to reduce or eliminate the fault which is a direct benefit of the accurate and steady monitoring of the buildings.
Do you think we might have a future where this is the standard for every building, where every building will have these sensors?
Most design codes usually oversimplify serviceability design procedures and focus mostly on instantaneous behaviour. Simplified procedures, led to crude approximations of the complex effects of concrete structures under the laboratory controlled simulated models. In fact, we are going to monitor and record the serviceability behaviour of a large-scale concrete structure under real practical service condition and day to day service loads. We believe that our research outcomes could be a benchmark for revising the traditional codes of practice to performance-based codes and standards. The main goal of the performance-based code is usually very broad and differs from the prescriptive codes which spell out exactly what steps should be taken to reach the final objective
There is no need to embed sensors in every building. However, the revised and developed new generation of codes of practice will assist the design and construction of the new concrete structures.
Is there anything like this elsewhere in the world?
Surprisingly, no any in situ monitoring of the serviceability in large-scale under the real practical day to day service loads have been reported in the literature to date. This is the first time that different types of concrete structures will be monitored and long-term behaviour precisely will be measured in real practical condition versus the available measured data in literature which have been monitored and recorded under the simulated laboratory conditions.
What have you enjoyed about working on this project?
This is an honour and great opportunity for me to participate in such an innovative and advanced research project. Results of this research will be a proud part of my engineering and professional life.
Anything else to add?
As a conclusion, the main objective of this research is to develop design oriented models that accurately simulate serviceability behaviour of the conventional, prestressed and composite concrete slabs and beams for inclusion in the new generation of the codes. It is expected that the outcome of this research to be a benchmark for the other researchers in Australia and around the world.