To make sure the safety, durability, and serviceability of structures in-service, health monitoring systems (HMS) are widely used in management of civil infrastructures in recent years. Compared with traditional force sensors, lead zirconium titanate (PZT) sensor performs better in smart sensing in HMS with advantages of high sensitivity, self-powering and fast response to highly dynamic load. Here, we propose to utilize PZT sensor arrays to identify the position and magnitude of external loads that are applied on a simply supported beam. An identification method is proposed based on experimental tests and theoretical electromechanical analyses, which is proved effective by comparing the identified parameters with the actually applied loading conditions and signals recorded by commercial force sensors. Experimental observations also reveal that PZT sensors respond faster to loading process than commercial force sensor, which makes it qualified in identification of transient loading such as impact processing in loading history. Results also demonstrate the applicability of the method to identify multiple concentrated load and the average moving speed of the applied load. The current method may provide a useful tool for identifying load conditions on various beam structures.

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