25–26 May 2023
Europe/Berlin timezone

A computational framework for predictive digital twins of civil engineering structures

25 May 2023, 16:40
Building 101A, Meeting Room 1 (Copenhagen)

Building 101A, Meeting Room 1


DTU Lyngby campus Anker Engelunds Vej 1 2800 Kgs. Lyngby


Matteo Torzoni (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale, Politecnico di Milano)


The digital twin concept represents the most appealing opportunity to move forward condition-based and predictive maintenance practices. Enabling such a paradigm shift for civil engineering systems would allow for reducing lifecycle (economic and social) costs and increasing the system safety and availability. This is nowadays possible as the installation of permanent real-time data collecting systems has become affordable, as well as thanks to the recent advances in learning systems and diagnostic activities.

This work proposes a predictive digital twin approach to the health monitoring, maintenance and management planning of civil structures. The asset-twin coupled dynamical system, and its evolution over time are encoded by means of a probabilistic graphical model. In particular, a dynamic Bayesian network equipped with decision nodes is adopted to rule the observations-to-decisions flow and quantify the related uncertainty. For diagnostic purposes, the dynamic Bayesian network is used to update and track the evolution of the structural health parameters comprising the digital state and describing the variability of the physical asset. The assimilation of observational data is carried out with deep learning models, useful to automatically select and extract damage-sensitive features from raw high-dimensional vibration recordings, and ultimately relate them with the corresponding structural state in real-time. The digital state is continuously updated in a sequential Bayesian inference fashion, and eventually exploited to inform an optimal planning of maintenance and management actions within a dynamic decision making framework. For prognosis purposes, the dynamic Bayesian network is used to forecast the future damage growth, according to control-dependent transition dynamic models describing how the structural health is expected to evolve.

The digital twinning framework is made computationally efficient through a preliminary offline phase that involves: (i) the population of training datasets through reduced-order numerical models, exploiting the physics-based knowledge about the system response. This is useful to overcome the lack of experimental data for civil applications under varying operational and damage conditions. (ii) the computation of a health-dependent control policy to be applied at each time step of the online phase. Such a control policy is then exploited to map the belief over the digital state onto actions feeding back to the physical asset.

The strategy is assessed on the simulated monitoring of a cantilever beam and a railway bridge. The obtained results prove the capabilities of health-aware digital twins of accurately tracking the evolution of structural health parameters under varying operational conditions, and promptly suggesting the most appropriate control input with relatively low uncertainty.

[1] L. Rosafalco, M. Torzoni, A. Manzoni, S. Mariani, and A. Corigliano. Online structural health monitoring by model order reduction and deep learning algorithms. Computers & Structures, 255:106604, 2021.
[2] M. Torzoni, L. Rosafalco, A.Manzoni, S.Mariani, and A. Corigliano. SHM under varying environmental conditions: an approach based on model order reduction and deep learning. Computers & Structures, 266:106790, 2022.
[3] M. G. Kapteyn, J. V. Pretorius, and K. E. Willcox. A probabilistic graphical model foundation for enabling predictive digital twins at scale. Nature Computational Science., 1(5):337-347, 2021.

Primary author

Matteo Torzoni (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale, Politecnico di Milano)


Dr Marco Tezzele (Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, University of Texas at Austin) Prof. Stefano Mariani (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale, Politecnico di Milano) Prof. Andrea Manzoni (MOX, Dipartimento di Matematica, Politecnico di Milano) Prof. Karen E. Willcox (Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, University of Texas at Austin)

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