Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is the engineering discipline of diagnosing damage and estimating safe remaining life for structures and systems. Often, SHM is accomplished by detecting changes in measured quantities from the structure of interest; if there are no competing explanations for the changes, one infers that they are the result of damage. If the structure of interest is subject to changes in its environmental or operational conditions, one must understand the effects of these changes in order that one does not falsely claim that damage has occurred when changes in measured quantities are observed. This problem – the problem of confounding influences – is particularly pressing for civil infrastructure where the given structure is usually openly exposed to the weather and may be subject to strongly varying operational conditions. One approach to understanding confounding influences is to construct a data-based response surface model that can represent measurement variations as a function of environmental and operational variables. The models can then be used to remove environmental and operational variations so that change detection algorithms signal the occurrence of damage alone. The current paper is concerned with such response surface models in the case of SHM of bridges. In particular, classes of response surface models that can switch discontinuously between regimes are discussed. Recently, it has been shown that Gaussian Process (GP) models are an effective means of developing response surface or surrogate models. However, the GP approach runs into difficulties if changes in the latent variables cause the structure of interest to abruptly switch between regimes. A good example here, which is well known in the SHM literature, is given by the Z24 Bridge in Switzerland which completely changed its dynamical behaviour when it cooled below zero degrees Celsius as the asphalt of the deck stiffened. The solution proposed here is to adopt the recently-proposed Treed Gaussian Process (TGP) model as an alternative. The approach is illustrated here on the Z24 bridge and also on data from the Tamar Bridge in the UK which shows marked switching behaviour in certain of its dynamical characteristics when its ambient wind conditions change. It is shown that treed GPs provide an effective approach to response surface modelling and that in the Tamar case, a linear model is in fact sufficient to solve the problem.
Worden, K., & Cross, E. J. (2018). On switching response surface models, with applications to the structural health monitoring of bridges. Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, 98, 139–156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymssp.2017.04.022