Early detection of potential defects and identification of their location are necessary to ensure safe, reliable and long-term use of engineering structures. Non-destructive diagnostic tests based on guided wave propagation are becoming more popular because of the possibility to inspect large areas during a single measurement with a small number of sensors. The aim of this study is the application of guided wave propagation in non-destructive diagnostics of steel bridges. The paper contains results of numerical analyses for a typical railway bridge. The ability of damage detection using guided Lamb waves was demonstrated on the example of a part of a plate girder as well as a bolted connection. In addition, laboratory tests were performed to investigate the practical application of wave propagation for a steel plate and a prestressed bolted joint.
A computational approach to analysis of wave propagation in plane stress problems is presented. The initial-boundary value problem is spatially approximated by the multi-node C⁰ displacement-based isoparametric quadrilateral finite elements. To integrate the element matrices the multi-node Gauss-Legendre-Lobatto quadrature rule is employed. The temporal discretization is carried out by the Newmark type algorithm reformulated to accommodate the structure of local element matrices. Numerical simulations are conducted for a T-shaped steel panel for different cases of initial excitation. For diagnostic purposes, the uniformly distributed loads subjected to an edge of the T-joint are found to be the most appropriate for design of ultrasonic devices for monitoring the structural element integrity.