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A PREVIOUS STUDY HAS SHOWN THAT THE MODE SHAPES OF A BEAM ARE MORE SENSITIVE TO DAMAGE THAN OTHER VIBRATIONAL PARAMETERS, THUS MAKING THEM BETTER SUITED FOR CRACK IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES. HOW- EVER, THEY HAVE THE DISADVANTAGE OF BEING MORE DIFFICULT TO BE MEASURED. TO OVERCOME THIS DIFFICULTY, AN INTERESTING IDEA IS TO MONITOR CHANGES PRODUCED BY CRACKS ON THE MODE SHAPES ONLY IN A FEW STRATEGIC POINTS, INSTEAD OF PERFORMING A COMPLETE EXPERIMENTAL MODAL ANALYSIS. CONSIDERING THIS POSSIBILITY, THE AIM OF THE PRESENT WORK WAS TO DETERMINE THE MOST APPROPRIATE LOCATIONS FOR INSTALLING SENSORS IN BEAMS IN ORDER TO IDENTIFY AND CHARACTERIZE STRUCTURAL DAMAGES. THE EFFECT OF DIFFERENT LOCATIONS OF CRACKS ON THE MODE SHAPES OF BEAMS WAS STUDIED THROUGH A NUMERICAL (COMPUTATIONAL) MODEL USING THE FINITE ELEMENT MODEL. THE RESULTS WERE PLOTTED IN 3D GRAPHS RELATING THE RELATIVE NODAL DISPLACEMENT OF DAMAGED AND INTACT BEAMS WITH THE CRACK POSITION AND THE LOCATION OF THE POINT ANALYZED. THROUGH THE ANALYSIS OF THESE GRAPHS, IT WAS POSSIBLE TO POINT OUT THE MOST ADEQUATE SITES FOR PLACING SENSORS AIMING AT IDENTIFYING CRACKS IN A BEAM IN FIXED-FREE AND FIXED-FIXED BOUNDARY CONDITIONS. AIMING AT TESTING THE RESULTS, AN OPTIMIZATION PROBLEM FOR CRACK IDENTIFICATION WAS PROPOSED AND SOLVED THROUGH GENETIC ALGORITHM (GA). THE CRACKS WERE IDENTIFIED WITH AN ACCURACY THAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS, SHOWING THAT THE PROPOSED METHOD IS EFFECTIVE AND COULD BE USED IN STRUCTURAL HEALTH MONITORING (SHM) ISSUES. LIMITATIONS ON ITS USE WERE ALSO DISCUSSED.
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