Research in structural monitoring has focused primarily on drawing inference about the health of a structure from the structure’s response to ambient or applied excitation. Knowledge of the current state can then be used to predict structural integrity at a future time and, in principle, allows one to take action to improve safety, minimize ownership costs, and/or increase the operating envelope. While much time and effort has been devoted toward data collection and system identification, research to-date has largely avoided the question of how to choose an optimal maintenance plan. This work describes a structured decision making (SDM) process for taking available information (loading data, model output, etc.) and producing a plan of action for maintaining the structure. SDM allows the practitioner to specify his/her objectives and then solves for the decision that is optimal in the sense that it maximizes those objectives. To demonstrate, we consider the problem of a Naval vessel transiting a fixed distance in varying sea-state conditions. The physics of this problem are such that minimizing transit time increases the probability of fatigue failure in the structural supports. It is shown how SDM produces the optimal trip plan in the sense that it minimizes both transit time and probability of failure in the manner of our choosing (i.e., through a user-defined cost function). The example illustrates the benefit of SDM over heuristic approaches to maintaining the vessel.
Additional publication details
Reducing fatigue damage for ships in transit through structured decision making