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The Importance of Structural Health Monitoring

Fri, 09 April, 2021

Structural health monitoring (SHM), which is vital to assessing the safety of assets, is a growing market, with 14.1% growth expected between 2020 and 2025. This growth will see SHM reach an estimated value of US$2.9 billion by 2025.

Much of this growth will be driven by the need to meet more stringent government regulations as a result of recent catastrophic infrastructure failures. This growth is expected to be particularly pronounced in China, India and South East Asia. However, the market in the United States is expected dominate this growth to reach 1.1 billion USD by 2025.

The hardware segment of the SHM market will be a key driver of growth as new infrastructure development and restoration of older infrastructures join to push the market forwards. High capital investment and the growing need for wireless monitoring systems look set to create attractive opportunities for the GPR-enabled drones.

Drones could be used to supplement existing technologies such as sensors placed on dam walls to measure movement, with the UK set to publish a review of safety regulations following the 2019 Toddbrook dam incident. This review will focus on the fitness for purpose of safety legislation and regulation of dams and reservoirs, including particular reference to the ‘frequency, scope and reporting of reservoir inspections.’

As with any new technology, policy and regulation will play an important role in determining when drone applications become viable. These will need to take account of potential safety issues, as well as including factors such as vehicle design, operations, and operator qualifications.

In the UK, for example, permission is required from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for flying a drone, including for commercial purposes. Further to this, additional permission would need to be granted for drone use on larger assets to fly above the 400ft restricted height.

However, with the right regulations in place, there is no doubting the important role drones can play in the growing market for structural health monitoring of both new and existing assets.


The DamGPR Drone project has received funding from Innovate UK under file reference number: 133909