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Automation in Construction 30 (2013) 914

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Automation in Construction
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Fiber optic and KNX sensors network for remote monitoring a new building cladding system
R. Unzu a, J.A. Nazabal a, G. Vargas b, c, R.J. Hernndez b, c, C. Fernndez-Valdivielso a, N. Urriza a, M. Galarza a, M. Lopez-Amo a,
a b c

Universidad Publica de Navarra, Spain Alonso, Hernndez & Associates Architects, Spain University of the Basque Country, Spain

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
This paper shows the utilization of a ber optic sensor network for monitoring the behavior of the enclosure of a telecommunication tower. Such enclosure is composed by double monolithic glass panels lled with an alveolar type polycarbonate structure. These ber optic sensors are also integrated with a ber optic accelerator and various building automation KNX sensors into a custom developed Building Management System for remote monitoring the structural health of the building. Results related to the measurements recorded into the glass alveolar panel have been used for assessing the structural reliability of the panel, under thermal and mechanical working conditions. 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Article history: Accepted 6 November 2012 Available online 12 December 2012 Keywords: Fiber optic sensors New materials Building Management System KNX Multiplexing Structural health monitoring

1. Introduction Optical sensors based on Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) [5] have been widely used in monitoring of civil structures [1,2]. They show interesting features and advantages such as the possibility of their wavelength multiplexing using a single ber optic cable, their reduced size and lightness, and total immunity to electromagnetic interferences, among others [35]. The measured parameters by the FBG sensors are codied in the light wavelength. This feature avoids the distortion of information through the sensor network due to external effects. The remote measurement of these sensors is also possible using an optical ber channel [6] or by a wireless link [2]. Remote Structural Monitoring Methodology (RSM) [79] requires an interdisciplinary approach integrating areas such as materials engineering, sensor technology, communication technology, statistical mechanics, and information technology for online data transmission and damage detection/health assessment of the structure. RMS has many advantages such as continuous monitoring of the measured parameters, early alarm of any incipient damage, and data acquisition even in adverse climatic/environmental conditions. The aim of this work is to know the performance of the enclosure materials in real time and under service conditions. Moreover, the system is intended to prevent severe alterations in the enclosure due to external agents (temperature changes, wind loads, vibrations). The monitored building considered in this work is a telecommunication
Corresponding author. E-mail address: (M. Lopez-Amo). 0926-5805/$ see front matter 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

tower then the use of any metallic elements must be avoided. With the use of conventional electric sensors, metallic cables can electromagnetically shield the signal of the antennas, and it can induce electric currents into the cable, distorting data. This is the main reason why ber optic sensors have been used. In this work, FBG sensors with an optical accelerometer and some KNX sensors are integrated at the building's enclosures into a custom system for remote monitoring building structural health. The idea is to extend the functionalities of an existing commercial Building Management System (BMS) like KNX, with new capabilities (e.g. the use of ber optic sensors and remote monitoring). KNX has been used because it is a leading building automation technology, with an important implantation level in many European countries. 2. Application description In order to evaluate and quantify the behavior of building elements under real service conditions by means of FBG sensors, a singular tower designed by Alonso, Hernndez & Associates Architects S.L. was chosen. Moreover, the building has an innovative enclosure system: double glass panels lled with polycarbonate core with alveolar structure. 2.1. Telecommunication tower The chosen tower belongs to the headquarter of TRACASA, a public company of the Government of Navarra, located in front of the Innovation Center and next to the Eco-city of Sarriguren (Navarra, Spain). The main building has a built surface of 20.600 m 2 and disposes


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advanced technological solutions that allow for an efcient use of the energy needs of the building, reducing the energetic consumption. This building has a singular telecommunication tower that contains the information systems and the communication antennas. Due to this functional exclusivity of the tower, the construction needed an innovative glass enclosure solution, which is shown in Fig. 1. 2.2. Alveolar sandwich structure A vertical faade of innovative panels was installed in the tower. These panels have a sandwich structure, composed by two external glass skins lled with a central alveolar core. The two cladding glasses use monolithic glass and the core has an alveolar/lattice structure (honeycomb conguration) of polycarbonate (see Fig. 1). The main structural features of the panels are reached by the adhesive union between the glass claddings and the core, without the need of any other kind of holder in the perimeter of the panel. In addition, the sandwich conguration provides outstanding mechanical properties to strain and compression. Besides, from an aesthetic point of view there are several new design degrees. The glass skins provide the panels with a translucent feeling, whereas the alveolar core allows the use of colored solutions and a variety of degrees of translucency. The translucency reaches its maximum in the perpendicular direction with respect to the panel plane, and it decreases with increasing angles of observation. 3. Network description and installation 3.1. Network design In order to monitor the mentioned tower, both commercial strain and temperature sensors have been installed. Strain sensors offer information about contraction, dilatation and deformation of the glass panels, and temperature sensors are necessary to compensate for the deformation effects on strain sensors due to thermal changes on the glass. Moreover, the information provided by the temperature sensors is required to establish the current temperature of the panels and it is essential to experimentally determine the coefcient of thermal

expansion (CTE) of the glass. As the glass alveolar panels have a sandwiched structure, some sensor pairs have been placed in both faces of the panels, as is shown in Fig. 2. The aim of such placement is to record the differences in deformation and temperature in both faces of each investigated sandwiched glass, and to evaluate their isolation capability. The experimental setup system of the tower is complemented with a vibration sensor located at the upper oor of the building. It is a double terminal optical accelerometer, model GS 6500 by Gavea Sensors. Three types of surface strain sensors have been used, depending on their suitability to external use. Polyamide sensors provided by FiberSensing, for example, are easy and quick to install, and have been installed inside the building. Sensors provided by MicronOptics are tougher and have better weathering features, so they were installed outside. In order to dene the distribution of the sensors, the following aspects have been considered. For measuring strain, FS 6200 sensor model, and for measuring temperature, FS 6300 sensor model, provided by FiberSensing, have been used. For measuring strain MicronOptics sensors OS 3100 (epoxy bond style) and OS 3200 models have also been used.

3.1.1. Power limitation The number of sensors that can be placed throughout the optic channel is limited due to the losses produced along the network, such as loss insertion of the connectors, bend loss in the ber, etc.

3.1.2. Wavelength limitation The range of temperature sensors is 1.5 nm (100 C 10 pm/C+ 0.5 nm) and the range of strain sensors is 1.1 nm. (500 1.2 pm/ + 500 pm). The measurement provided by the strain sensors has to be compensated with the temperature effect on deformation. Therefore, a temperature sensor is placed between each pair of strain sensors. The interrogator, model FS 5200 by FiberSensing, has four optical channels and interrogates each FBG sensor at a frequency of 1 Hz. It has an additional special optic channel to interrogate the optical accelerometer with a customizable sample rate with a maximum rate of 20000 samples per second. This device is a composition of an optical board designed and assembled by FiberSensing and a National Instruments' PXI DAQ Card (PXI6040). In this project we need to measure vibrations of frequency components with 400 Hz maximum, so according to the sampling theorem, the sampling rate needed is of 800 samples per second.

Fig. 1. Panel structure.

Fig. 2. Detail of one of the installed FBG sensors.

R. Unzu et al. / Automation in Construction 30 (2013) 914


The previous limitations dene the number of sensors that can be installed on each optic channel and they are useful to determine the most suitable wavelength for each one. The nal system comprises a total of thirty one FBG sensors (20 deformation sensors, 10 temperature sensors and 1 accelerometer) distributed in four branches or arrays that were located on different points of the tower: - Branch 1 Six sensors inside the building, and three sensors outside, located at the rst and second oors. - Branch 2 Six sensors inside the building at the third oor. - Branch 3 Nine sensors inside the building at the fourth oor. - Branch 4 Six sensors inside the building at the fourth oor. Some of the installed sensors are shown in Fig. 3. All available channels of the interrogator were utilized. 3.2. Installation and assembly Prior to the installation and interconnection of the sensors in the building, we checked whether both the selected conguration of the sensors and the branches worked properly. Afterwards, the use of a lift platform was necessary to place the branches in the outside of the tower, as shown in Fig. 4. The measurement provided by the strain sensors has to be compensated with the temperature effect on deformation. Therefore, a temperature sensor is placed between each pair of strain sensors. Since the aim of the work is the remote monitoring in real-time of the sensed parameters, it is necessary to interconnect the interrogator of the sensing network with the general management system of the building to extract all the data using a remote application. The chosen building possesses an intelligent control system based on KNX (European standard for Home and Building Control), which provides a high degree of exibility and an important saving in energetic management and maintenance.

Fig. 4. Installation of the external optical sensors.

The utilization of FBG sensors working with KNX networks was previously proposed by part of us in [1012]. In order to facilitate the future management and maintenance of the monitoring system, we have developed a unique global management tool which controls both the KNX system and the sensor system. So, in the tower coexists two kinds of sensor networks, one optical and another KNX. Making use of the network KNX it was installed a meteorological station into the building's roof which will give more information about weather conditions that may affect the enclosure during the realization of this work. The station can measure in real-time the speed of the wind, the temperature outside and the brightness in three directions. Furthermore, it has a rain sensor and a more accurate twilight brightness sensor. The weather station used is the 2224 HW model by Jung. The temperature range, for which the meteorological station works correctly, goes from 22 C to 50 C. The sensor of wind can measure winds from 0 m/s to 40 m/s with an accuracy of 2 m/s; however it cannot give information about the direction of the wind. Similarly, the station detects if it is raining, even with thin drizzle, but it cannot measure the intensity of the rain. The brightness is measured from 1 kLx to 110 kLx in the normal brightness sensors and from 0 to 60 kLx in the twilight one. The developed management system software tool remotely acquires processes and stores data from these networks. As shown in Fig. 5, each ber optic sensor branch is connected to a different optical channel. The optical accelerometer is connected to the interrogator's PXI module, also with optical ber. The KNX/IP interface is connected with an Ethernet UTP cable to one of the two available interrogator's network interfaces, and the other is used for connecting the 3 G router, also using an Ethernet UTP cable. 3.3. Software description The software of the system consists of ve separated modules, intercommunicated with UDP or TCP, depending on the nature of the data exchanged.

Fig. 3. Optical sensor distribution.


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Fig. 5. System's hardware scheme.

Both protocol works above the Internet IP layer. TCP is a reliable, connection oriented protocol that will be used for exchanging critical data whereas the other is a non reliable, non connection oriented protocol that will be used for sending streaming data. The system's software scheme used is shown in Fig. 6. The module that obtains the data provided by the optical sensor network acquired by the interrogator, the BraggMeter module, has been developed in LabVIEW. This module communicates with the interrogator proprietary tool, also programmed in LabVIEW, via shared variables for accessing ber optic sensor data from other V.I.s. The sensor data includes the sensor's name, units and the measured value and can be acquired anytime.

The module that obtains the data provided by the optical accelerometer via the PXI optical card, the BraggScope module, has been also developed in LabVIEW. For accessing the data from the PXI card using LabVIEW, the installation of the NI-DAQmx driver software is needed. This tool is a software interface between the hardware part (in this case the PXI card) and the software part (in this case, LabVIEW). For accessing the MySQL database from LabVIEW, labSQL [14] library has been used but rst ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) windows drivers must be installed and properly congured. This module compresses the data to be sent, using LabVIEW's Zlib library [15], for making a more efcient use of the Internet connection. Zlib is free, lossless data compression library and is portable across platforms. The compression rate varies depending on encrypted data, with a maximum compression factor exceeding 1000:1. On the other hand, the module that obtains data from the KNX network, the CalimeroDaemon module, has been developed in Java, for which the Java library Calimero developed in the Vienna Technical University has been used. This library allows a bidirectional access to KNX network through an IP interface using KNXnet/IP protocol (Eur. Family of Std. 13321, 2006). A hardware KNXnet/IP interface is also needed, that will be used by the Calimero library for interactuating with the KNX meteorological station. The interface used is the N148/21 model from Siemens. For data storage, we have used a MySQL server, a powerful open source database. Finally this module has the functionality of connecting remotely with the main module, the SensorViewer module, via Internet for displaying the sensor networks data in real-time, as well as displaying the values stored in the database for a given time interval. For the graphical representation of the sensor data, JFreechart library has been used, written in Java. It has a large variety of different types of graphics and supports many output types, including Swing components, image les and vector graphics le formats.

4. Experimental results and conclusions The network of FBG sensors, the data processing, the data storage and the automatic remote monitoring of the sensors, are a complete and well dened system with the capability to perform simultaneously multiple sensor measurements and to provide both local and global information about the behavior of the panel under different environmental parameters and operating conditions. Both, the data of the sensors and the information of the meteorological station, have been saved every fteen minutes during a year. The placement of the FBG sensors having different orientations and height positions, and located inside and outside the tower, allows monitoring the different temperatures and deformations the panels go through. As shown in the graph plotted in Fig. 7, panels reach temperatures higher than outside temperature, understanding as outside temperature the one measured by the meteorological station. This difference increases for higher registered outside temperatures. For example, considering the daily registered maxima temperatures, the average difference of the temperature inside the last oor with west orientation and the outside temperature is about 14 C. Considering the daily minimum temperature, the average difference does not reach 6 C. There is a typical period each day when the outside temperature as shown in the graph plotted in Fig. 7, panels reach temperatures higher than outside temperature, understanding as outside temperature the one measured by the meteorological station. Considering the daily minimum temperature, the average difference does not reach 6 C. There is a typical period each day when the outside temperature is higher than the temperature of the panels: from 9:00 to 13:00 (see Fig. 7). At that moment, the temperature difference is negative. The temperature in each panel depends on the following aspects: The height: The last oor reaches higher temperatures.

Fig. 6. System's software scheme.

R. Unzu et al. / Automation in Construction 30 (2013) 914


Fig. 7. Strain and temperature measurements of the sensors in branch 3.

The orientation: Depending on the hour of the day, there are sides of the tower which suffer higher temperatures than the others. Logically, the North side of the tower remains always the coldest. Panels in the South side of the building reach higher temperatures than the other sides from 17:00 to 10:00. This is due to the direct sunlight of this side during most part of the day. Based on the simultaneous recording of the strain and the temperature it is possible to observe the deformation of the panels due to the changes of temperature. Therefore, it is possible to estimate the coefcient of thermal expansion (CTE) of the panels. The CTE is dened as the unitary thermal deformation of a material depending on the changes of temperature. Mathematically: CTE T : 1

for T0 = 20 C. This normalization is necessary because the temperature in each panel was different in the moment the sensors were installed. F 0 CTE   T f T 0 2

This coefcient is a physical property of the material, which is usually obtained by means of laboratory experimental setups. In further research, coefcient of thermal expansion will be determined in order to compare it with in situ measurements. For the case of the glasses used in the panels, the coefcient of thermal expansion is: CTEGlass = 9 10 6 C 1. In order to carry out the estimation of the deformation in the panels, we established a reference temperature having zero strain

Results in Fig. 8 show the effect of the contraction and expansion that the glasses suffer when the temperature decreases or increases, respectively. In Fig. 9, it is displayed the temperature that is reached in both sides of a panel in the last oor of the building, as well as their difference with room temperature. We conrm that the temperature inside the panel is always higher than that in the outside. Fig. 10 shows the relationship between the temperature and the deformation for several panels. The coefcient of determination, R2, between the temperature and the deformation is in all cases, greater than 0.9. R2 is a number among 0 and 1. When this value is near to 1, the acceptance of lineal relationship can be assumed. Therefore, we can conclude that there exists a lineal relationship between temperature and deformation [13]. Moreover, in this graph we can observe that there are other factors that produce deformations to the glass panels. The deformation of the panels depends on both thermal conditions (changes of temperature) and mechanical conditions (such as the load of the wind, vibrations, and strain due

Fig. 8. Measured temperature of an inner sensor (R3t1) and an outer sensor (R4t1) of the same panel and their difference against roof temperature.


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The multiplexing system we have developed has monitored remotely during a year, using a control system based on 6 KNX sensors, 20 beroptic strain sensors, 10 temperature sensors and 1 accelerometer. Using this monitoring system we evaluated the behavior of the new cladding system. Regarding structural reliability of the faade, strain measurements (between 300 and + 400 ) indicate that double glass panels suitably bear both thermal and mechanical stresses. Acknowledgments This work was supported by the Spanish Government under grants TEC2007-67987-C02-02 and TEC2010-20224-C02-01 and grant IIM010566.RI1 from the Government of Navarra. The authors are grateful to G. Beloki, A. Yoldi, and I.R. Matas, from UPNA; P. Branchi, and L. Borquez, from AH&A, S. Abad, from FiberSensing and A. Mndez, from Micron Optics; for their help at the beginning of the project. We also thank TRACASA for their availability and help.
Fig. 9. Strain measurements of 3 sensors against temperature.

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to its own weight or mechanical supports used to x the panels). It has not been possible to establish a clear relationship between the load of wind and the strain in the panels, due to the light wind the panels went through during the measured period. Figs. 9 and 10 show that panels placed higher show higher deformation due to more critical thermal and mechanical conditions (remember that the range of temperature registered for these panels is the largest). Sensors installed in the outside recorded more unstable measurements compared to sensors in the inner side. The base packaging was not enough to avoid the hostile environment, such as rain, hailstone, birds, etc. Therefore, some ranges of measurements have not been considered as reliable.

5. Conclusions In this paper we have presented what it constitutes, to our knowledge, the rst demonstration of in situ monitoring using optical ber sensors of new cladding materials for construction. The cladding is composed by double glass panels lled with a new alveolar type structure.

Fig. 10. Strain measurements excluding temperature effects.