Catastrophic events such as earthquakes, blast, fire and impact may subject a structure to extreme loading conditions that far exceed its original design capability. Such an event may cause the structure to either fully collapse, partially collapse, or suffer visual or non-visual damage. The phase of a structure suffering visual or non-visual damage is critical. Damage detection in the structure is needed to evaluate its safety and whether it needs rehabilitation/retrofit or not.

For the last ten years Applied Science International (ASI) has invested in the successful implementation of an innovative new numerical analysis technique called the Applied Element Method (AEM). The result has been the creation of an advanced set of non-linear structural analysis tools called Extreme Loading® Technology (ELT) that can simulate the linear and non-linear behavior of structures through failure to separation and complete collapse. The implementation of AEM as the core analysis technique in ELT allows for fast dynamic analysis, automatic material separation once failure limits are reached, and re-contact of separated material particles with reliable mathematical accuracy, in a reasonable amount of computer processing time, without manual intervention or artificial assumptions as to where cracks will occur. These features, unmatched in traditional numerical analysis techniques make ASI’s ability to automatically simulate the effects of extreme loading events such as blast, impact, high wind and earthquakes through separation and complete collapse surpass the most innovative advancement in structural analysis in the past thirty years.

With the availability of this new analysis capability and recent events in which both manmade and natural disasters have created a large number of damaged structures have highlighted the need to efficiently perform analysis on structures that have varying levels of both visible and hidden structural damage. Current engineering procedures used to identify the damage of the structural components rely mostly on the laborious process of visual inspection and use of basic instruments; rebar detectors and material testing with various tools. This examination is the first step in the process to determine the appropriate rehabilitation actions (shoring, cutting, partial demolition, etc.) needed to prevent any secondary collapse or to retrofit the structure for people to safely re-inhabit. In addition, many structures do not have accurate construction drawings, making even it harder to do this evaluation.

Advancements in measurement technologies such as Laser and Sonar scanning have resulted in increased use in the field to obtain thorough details conditions of existing structures and structural damage. Although these advancements alone don’t provide accurate structural details, an opportunity has risen to enhance and integrate the process of using these tools in conjunction to retrieving usable data for use in ELT that will vastly improve the ability of engineers to assess the structures that have been subjected to extreme loading events. In particular, the incorporation and advancement of Laser Scanning, Sonar Scanning, Material Testing and other techniques to efficiently obtain as-built and as-damaged measurement information from existing structures is of great interest.

ASI Europe is proud to be working in the region of Molise, Italy on the Bando R&S – PMI. Programma Operativo Regionale Molise – FESR 2007- 2013. to study the challenges of modeling damaged structures, document current modeling capabilities of ELT, and identify areas of improvement in modeling capabilities of ELT.

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