Ship structural design is changing rapidly. There is a strong trend towards design for all the complex behaviours that actually occur when structures age and fail. New analysis methods and knowledge of risks are supporting this trend. To support this analysis and to better manage expensive assets, people want field data. In coming years structures will have far more real-time and long term sensors installed, to provide that data to support the new design methods.
With this in mind, we conducted two projects to develop new sensor technologies. In one, a new large strain, low cost sensor was investigated. In the other, a long-term micro power source was developed. Both technologies are steps toward having an affordable way to place structural sensors on ships and offshore structures for the whole life of the structure (20+ years).
While still in a pre-commercial stage, the commercial potential is very large and global. A time will come when every structural element will have its own sensor. The internet will, in effect, reach out into the physical world, and not stop at the computers. In such a world, sensor technology will be very valuable.