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LabVIEW’s Olympic medal

NI monitors ‘health’ of Beijing’s Olympic Venues

The China Earthquake Administration (CEA), the leading governmental body managing the country’s earthquake preparedness and disaster mitigation, selected a structural health monitoring (SHM) solution developed by National Instruments Alliance Partner CGM Engineering, Inc., based on LabVIEW and CompactRIO PACs.

The systems are designed to aid engineers in conducting structural health research on seven recently constructed megastructures in China including both of the main venues for the 2008 Summer Olympics — the Beijing National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center.

“The main objective of this civil engineering project is to develop a state-of-the-art solution to monitor structural health characteristics including stability, reliability and livability in real time by using contemporary computing, sensor and communication technology,” said Chris McDonald, vice president of CGM Engineering. “Our systems are designed to capture the vibrational signatures of structures and detect any sudden shifts of structural characteristics to improve structures and help reduce the loss of life and property when catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes or fires occur.”

The nine 64-channel and two 36-channel SHM systems each contain multiple CompactRIO controllers that directly connect to accelerometers for vibration measurements and an external GPS receiver for inter-chassis synchronisation. Within each chassis, the LabVIEW FPGA Module is used to synchronize each measurement channel to within ±10 microseconds of the GPS-disciplined clock. The LabVIEW Real-Time Module also is used to program user-configurable filtering to prevent unwanted noise from interfering with the low-frequency measurements being acquired. Each system is encapsulated in a rugged NEMA enclosure, which permits the unit to operate in high humidity and temperatures ranging from -40 C to 70 C.

The SHM system performs continuous, real-time monitoring at each location, and engineers can remotely access the locally stored data from anywhere in the world via secure Internet connections. Additionally, engineers can configure the systems using either a single or multivariate architecture to send e-mail notifications when events occur.

The CEA selected this system based on NI technology over other solutions because it offers continuous, real-time monitoring, time-based GPS synchronization and the highest channel count for the lowest cost. The technology also provides a simple, out-of-the-box setup and a variety of I/O options that can be quickly and easily reconfigured to meet changing system requirements.

In addition to the Olympic venues, the SHM systems are deployed in the 104-story World Trade Center in Shanghai, 66-story Park Hyatt Hotel complex in Beijing, 240 m concrete arch dam in Ertan, 8266 m cable-stayed bridge in Shan-Tou and base-isolated CEA data center in Beijing. Ultimately, the data collected from this research will be used to improve the structural integrity of future buildings and reduce the number of lives lost from catastrophic events.

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