Development of a semi-automated system for structural deformation monitoring using a reflectorless total station

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The failure of a large structure could have severe consequences. For this reason, early detection of possible structural damage is critical. This stimulates the need for a reliable methodology for routine structural deformation monitoring. Large, above ground oil storage tanks are examples of structures that must be routinely surveyed to monitor their stability and overall integrity. Presented here is the research and development of a methodology and software system to perform the semi-automated deformation monitoring of such tanks. The new system, “SCAN”, greatly improves upon a current, drastically outdated monitoring scheme with the implementation of a robotic total station with reflectorless laser technology. SCAN has been interfaced with an existing deformation monitoring software system, ALERT, developed by the Canadian Centre for Geodetic Engineering at the University of New Brunswick. The full functionality and reliability of this system were tested by simulating an oil tank with a large water tank of comparable dimensions. The results from this field test indicate that the ALERT SCAN system greatly increases surveying efficiency by reducing the time required to collect entire tank data from two weeks (with three persons) to one half-day (with one person). The system is also tested to be a reliable method to perform semi-automated data collection and processing. Based on this system, research has continued into a more sophisticated, adaptable version of SCAN that would have the potential to perform the automated deformation monitoring of almost any structure.