This paper discusses the challenges and opportunities of using structural health monitoring (SHM) concepts and technologies in pressure vessels and piping (PVP) applications. The research into monitoring of structural health has experienced a dramatic increase in the last decade due to at least two factors. On the one hand, our industrial installations, aircraft fleets, civil infrastructure, etc. are becoming increasingly aged and require more and more maintenance costly actions and repairs. This process could be greatly improved if scheduled maintenance were augmented or even replaced by continuous monitoring that would limit costly inspections and maintenance actions to being done only when needed; and (b) the advent of advanced technologies, e.g., active materials based sensors, actuators, and transducers as well as advanced data acquisition, data processing, and data mining technologies that enable the practical implementation of the SHM concepts.
To date, the SHM research has been mainly performed for the aerospace, defense, and civil infrastructure applications and some interesting proof-of-concept results have been demonstrated. Very little research, if at all, has been done on using the SHM concepts in PVP applications. The reason for this situation may be that PVP applications may be more challenging than the other applications in which SHM concepts have been tried so far. The present paper explores this topic and highlight (a) the challenges that have to be overcome in order to develop SHM for PVP applications; and (b) the opportunities that exist for using SHM in PVP applications. The paper starts with a review of the main SHM concepts and technologies. Then, the paper identifies the challenges that would exist if these SHM concepts and technologies were to be applied the PVP applications. Finally, the paper discusses the opportunities for applying SHM to PVP applications forward. The paper ends with conclusions and suggestions for further work.