Intelligent monitoring of concrete structures

This guide presents the state-of-the-art in automated monitoring of the deterioration of concrete structures.

CIRIA book 'Intelligent monitoring of concrete structures'
CIRIA book 'Intelligent monitoring of concrete structures'

Who wrote this?

  • Nick R Buenfeld BSc MSc PhD DIC CEng MICE MICT, Imperial College
  • Ron D Davies BSc MSc PhD, Imperial College
  • Ali Karimi MEng PhD DIC, Imperial College
  • Alan Gilbertson BSc MSc DIC FIStructE, FICE, CIRIA

This work was funded by DTI, The Highways Agency, Transport Scotland, Concrete Repairs Limited, CAPCIS and the CIRIA Core members.

Industrial Advisory Group:

  • Alan Gilbertson, CIRIA (Chair)
  • Javad Akhtar, Hyder
  • Brian Bell, Network Rail
  • David Bone, Royal Haskoning
  • John Broomfield, Consultant
  • John Cairns, Heriot-Watt University
  • Simon Claringbull, Eon-UK
  • John Drewett, Concrete Repairs Ltd
  • Alan Fairhurst, BNFL
  • Neil Henderson, Mott MacDonald
  • Gareth John, CAPCIS
  • Gareth Jones, STATS
  • Ted Kay, Concrete Society
  • Jon Knights, Halcrow
  • Neil Loudon, Highways Agency
  • Bill Martin, DTI
  • Alex Mastrogiacomo, Price Brothers (UK) Ltd
  • Stuart Matthews, BRE
  • Hazel McDonald, Transport Scotland
  • Bonny Umeadi, Greenwich University
  • Goncalo Vasconcelos, Transport for London
  • Jonathan Wood, Consultant


It was first published in January 2008.


This came out of DTI work to sign-post industrial needs, opportunities and possibilities to guide industry and the DTI for future work in intelligent monitoring of concrete structures. The aim is to improve monitoring to avoid building failures.

Who should read this?

This guide is written for all of those with an interest in intelligent monitoring of structures, including asset owners, consulting engineers, specialist contractors, suppliers and researchers.


This 126-page book gives an introduction to intelligent monitoring and the wealth of information in the DTI reports. Management of concrete structures requires an understanding of the deterioration processes involved and the rate at which they proceed. Intelligent monitoring is automated monitoring which explicitly provides information on current condition and deterioration rates to assist in predicting the remaining life of a component or structure. Surface mounted or embedded sensors may be used to monitor various aspects of structural condition, reinforcement corrosion, and the environment in and around a concrete structure.

Some key points from the work are:

  • There are many reasons to monitor structures, including to compare the actual behaviour with that anticipated during design to determine the rate of deterioration, to optimise the timing of maintenance and to warn of an impending failure
  • Automated monitoring offers potential benefits in relation to on-site testing, including reducing the need for access, identifying problems earlier and isolating climatic effects
  • Sensors and monitoring equipment are available to allow many important aspects of the behaviour of concrete structures to be automatically monitored, including aspects of structural change (e.g. deflection, vibration, displacement, concrete and rebar strain, and pre-stressing wire breaks), reinforcement corrosion (e.g. half cell potential, polarisation resistance and concrete resistivity), concrete temperature and moisture content
  • A study of the case studies provided demonstrates that intelligent monitoring is a worldwide issue and the large number of providers of instrumentation listed demonstrates the depth and breadth of effort being devoted to it. There are examples of intelligent monitoring being successfully used to manage structures
  • There are many potential obstacles to the adoption of monitoring. These include concerns over the accuracy, stability and durability of some types of sensor, the fact that very few service life models are able to utilise monitoring data, and the difficulty of sustaining owner management systems over long periods. This guide makes the difficulties clear and provides access to information in support of decision-making
  • With developments in wireless communications and sensor technologies and a better understanding by industry of what can be done, there is no doubt that future management of our built environment will increasingly benefit from the use of intelligent monitoring

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