Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network

Guang Zou

BSc, MSc
Home/Guang Zou
Guang Zou 2018-10-11T13:41:10+00:00
Early Stage Researcher
Lloyd’s Register EMEA (United Kingdom)

Project 5: A probabilistic framework for fatigue crack management of ship structures

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Research Interests:

Reliability and risk engineering; Probabilistic modelling; Asset integrity management; Structural engineering; Marine and offshore engineering; Structural health monitoring; Data science

Biography:

He obtained his BSc in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Wuhan University of Technology, and MSc in Mechanics of Ship and Marine Structures from China Ship Research & Development Academy. His MSc project applied toroidal shells in subsea pressure structures. He developed a simplified mechanics model for stiffened toroidals, and defended his MSc thesis with distinction.

He worked as a research engineer at China Ship Scientific Research Centre for 3.5 years. Further to his MSc project, he investigated stiffened toroidals analytically and experimentally in an NSFC-funded project, in which he was deputy project manager. He also engaged in other national projects about the development of underwater vehicles and stations, where he developed his capabilities in numerical simulation, scaled-model testing, engineering design, field measurements, and testing.

He joined Lloyd’s Register EMEA in Dec 2015 as a research fellow for European TRUSS project, where he is developing probabilistic models for the reliability of passenger ships. A summary of his research highlights and training, dissemination and outreach activities in TRUSS  other than network-wide events, is provided in the pdf below, followed by more detailed info on his research outputs.

ESR5_Summary_v2

Research Outputs:

  • Du, Q.H., Zou, G., Zhang, B.W. and Wan, Z.Q. (2015), “Simplified theoretical solution of circular toroidal shell with ribs under uniform external pressure”, Thin-Walled Structures, 96 (11):49-55. [DOI]
  • Zou, G., Du, Q.H. and Zhang, B.W. (2014), “Characteristic analysis of pressure toroidal structures on strength”, Ship Science and Technology, 36 (2):14-19.
  • Du, Q.H., Bian, R.G. and Zou, G. (2013), “Assembled toroidal structures”, Patent No. 102182207A.
  • Zou, G., Peng, X.N. and Du, Q.H. (2012), “Theoretical solution and essential research on stiffened toroidal shells”, Journal of Ship Mechanics, 16 (1):83-92.

Selected presentations from TRUSS dissemination events

1st TRUSS Symposium (Portoroz (Slovenia), 21st June 2017)

TRUSS Workshop (Dublin (Ireland), 29th August 2018)

Publications in TRUSS

Journal papers
Fatigue cracking is a common problem that needs to be managed in the life cycles of steel structures. Operational inspections and repairs are important means of fatigue crack management. Driven by high relevance in safety control and budget saving, inspection and maintenance planning has been widely studied. However, the value of inspection and repairs has typically not been fully appreciated and quantified rationally before they are implemented. The basic idea of this paper is to address the planning problem with focus on repair other than on inspection. A maintenance strategy without inspection is studied and serves as comparison of a maintenance strategy with inspection. Then the value of repair and the value of inspection relative to repair can be evaluated respectively. An illustrative example is performed on a typical fatigue-prone detail in steel structures. -> [DOI] ->

Crack initiation and propagation threatens structural integrity of welded joints and normally inspections are assigned based on crack propagation models. However, the approach based on crack propagation models may not be applicable for some high-quality welded joints, because the initial flaws in them may be so small that it may take long time for the flaws to develop into a detectable size. This raises a concern regarding the inspection planning of high-quality welded joins, as there is no generally acceptable approach for modeling the whole fatigue process that includes the crack initiation period. In order to address the issue, this paper reviews treatment methods for crack initiation period and initial crack size in crack propagation models applied to inspection planning. Generally, there are four approaches, by: 1) Neglecting the crack initiation period and fitting a probabilistic distribution for initial crack size based on statistical data; 2) Extrapolating the crack propagation stage to a very small fictitious initial crack size, so that the whole fatigue process can be modeled by crack propagation models; 3) Assuming a fixed detectable initial crack size and fitting a probabilistic distribution for crack initiation time based on specimen tests; and, 4) Modeling the crack initiation and propagation stage separately using small crack growth theories and Paris law or similar models. The conclusion is that in view of trade-off between accuracy and computation efforts, calibration of a small fictitious initial crack size to S-N curves is the most efficient approach. -> External link to Publisher’s version -> Link to full text in repository

Conference contributions
 Inspections and maintenance of infrastructure are expensive. In some cases, overdue or insufficient maintenance/monitoring can lead to an unacceptable risk of collapse and to a tragic failure as the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy, on 14th August 2018. An accurate assessment of the safety of a structure is a difficult task due to uncertainties associated with the aging and response of the structure, with the operational and environmental loads, and with their interaction. During the period from 2015 to 2019, the project TRUSS (Training in Reducing Uncertainty in Structural Safety) ITN (Innovative Training Network), funded by the EU H2020 Marie Curie-Skłodowska Action (MSCA) programme, has worked towards improving the structural assessment of buildings, energy, marine, and transport infrastructure. Fourteen Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) have been recruited to carry out related research on new materials, testing methods, improved and more efficient modelling methods and management strategies, and sensor and algorithm development for Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) purposes. This research has been enhanced by an advanced program of scientific and professional training delivered via a collaboration between 6 Universities, 1 research institute and 11 companies from 5 European countries. The high proportion of companies participating in TRUSS ITN has ensured significant industrial expertise and has introduced a diverse range of perspectives to the consortium on the activities necessary to do business in the structural safety sector. 

There is a need to consider repair delay and incurred failure risk in maintenance optimization for some fatigue-critical structural details in marine and offshore structures. For example, in some cases, immediate repair may not be feasible due to weather, geographical location and/or technical restrictions. Also, immediate repair may be much more expensive than well-organized delayed repair. Moreover, detected cracks may sometimes be left unattended until more cracks are found and repaired together. This paper investigates a probabilistic maintenance optimization method allowing for repair delay and the incurred failure risk. The maintenance strategy considering repair delay is optimized based on uncertainty modeling, reliability and life-cycle cost analysis. Special features of the maintenance strategy and its impacts on fatigue reliability and life-cycle costs are discussed on an illustrative example. A method to quantify the risk incurred by repair delay is proposed. It is found that repair delay can result in a significant decrease in fatigue reliability if inspection is scheduled in the late stage of service life. The benefits of the maintenance strategy to fatigue reliability and life-cycle costs are very sensitive to the inspection method. The failure risk incurred by repair delay would be the predominant risk in the life cycle. ->

Maintenance scheduling and optimization against fatigue failures is of great interest for marine and offshore engineering in terms of safety assurance, integrity management and cost control. The main challenge is to make risk-informed and optimal maintenance decisions taking into account uncertainties associated with material properties, fatigue loads, modelling, inspection and maintenance methods. While optimization of inspection times has been the objectives of many studies, the influence and optimization of inspection qualities is not very clear. This paper has applied probabilistic fracture mechanics and reliability/risk methods to optimization of inspection quality as well as inspection time and revealed the effect of inspection quality on lifetime fatigue reliability. It is found that there is a reliability-based optimum inspection quality for maintenance scheduling, which is different from the cost-based optimum one. Better inspection quality than the optimum one can lead to excessive maintenance, which occurs when the effect of maintenance is not good, and the inspection quality applied is very good. Excessive maintenance can lead to increase of both expected failure costs and maintenance costs, and thus should be avoided. ->

Non-destructive testing (NDT) methods have been widely used for damage examination and structural maintenance, e.g. detecting and repairing fatigue cracks. In-service inspections help to increase fatigue reliability by providing new information for updating structural failure probability and making decisions on repair. However, these benefits are often compromised by uncertainties associated with inspection methods. Sometimes existing cracks may not be identified, and positive inspection indication may not exist. It is of great interest to consider the influence of inspection uncertainty in maintenance optimization because the benefits and costs of maintenance are affected by inspection decisions (inspection times and methods) which are subjected to inspection uncertainty. However, the influence of inspection uncertainty on maintenance optimization has not been explicitly and adequately covered in the literature. In this paper, the problem has been investigated by probabilistic modelling of the qualities of inspection methods via probability of detection (PoD) functions. A new PoD function has been proposed to characterize the inspection quality when inspection uncertainty is not considered. Optimum inspection decisions are derived with the objective of maximizing lifetime reliability index under two scenarios (considering and not considering inspection uncertainty). The effectiveness of a planned inspection is defined based on the max reliability indexes under the two scenarios. It is shown that the max lifetime reliability index generally deceases when inspection uncertainty is considered. However, inspection uncertainty may have little influence on the lifetime reliability index depending on the planned inspection time. The effectiveness of a planned inspection increases with the decrease of the mean detectable crack size.

This paper addresses challenges in fatigue management of marine structural assets with a holistically approach, by jointly considering fatigue design, inspection and maintenance decisions, whilst taking into account sources of uncertainties affecting life cycle performance. A risk-informed and holistic approach is proposed for jointly optimizing fatigue design, inspection and maintenance based on the same fatigue deterioration model. The optimization parameters are fatigue design factor (FDF) and inspection intervals, while the objective is to minimize expected life cycle costs (LCC). The framework is to guide design process as well as to formulate optimal maintenance strategies. The proposed approach is exemplified for the marine industry through a fatigue-prone detail in a ship structure to obtain the life cycle optimal management solution that achieves a best compromise between structural safety and life cycle costs. ->

There is multitude of models available to assess structural safety based on a set of input parameters. As the degree of complexity of the models increases, the uncertainty of their output tends to decrease. However, more complex models typically require more input parameters, which may contain a higher degree of uncertainty. Therefore, it becomes necessary to find the balance that, for a particular scenario, will reduce the overall uncertainty (model + parameters) in structural safety. The latter is the objective of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network titled TRUSS (Training in Reducing Uncertainty in Structural Safety) funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (http://trussitn.eu). This paper describes how TRUSS addresses uncertainty in: (a) structural reliability of materials such as basalt fiber reinforced polymer, (b) testing techniques in the assessment of concrete strength in buildings, (c) numerical methods in computing the non-linear response of submerged nuclear components subjected to an earthquake, (d) estimation of life of wind turbines, (e) the optimal inspection times and management strategies for ships, (f) characterization of the dynamic response of ship unloaders and (g) the relationship between vehicles fuel consumption and pavement condition.-> Link to full text in repository

Fatigue cracking is a common problem that needs to be managed in the life cycles of steel structures. Operational inspections and repairs are important means of fatigue crack management. Driven by high relevance in safety control and budget saving, inspection and maintenance planning has been widely studied. However, the value of inspection and repairs has typically not been fully appreciated and quantified rationally before they are implemented. The basic idea of this paper is to address the planning problem with focus on repair other than on inspection. A maintenance strategy without inspection is studied and serves as comparison of a maintenance strategy with inspection. Then the value of repair and the value of inspection relative to repair can be evaluated respectively. An illustrative example is performed on a typical fatigue-prone detail in steel structures. ->

Fatigue cracks threaten integrity of marine and offshore assets and need to be managed properly during the life cycles. However, the decision making process for fatigue design and maintenance are often disconnected and probably not be optimal with respect to life cycle total costs. This paper proposes a holistic decision support tool for jointly optimizing fatigue design, inspection and maintenance decision based on risk quantification and life cycle cost analysis, taking into account the uncertainties associated with fatigue deterioration, inspection performance and repair effect. The tool can be used to support risk-informed fatigue design; inspection and maintenance decision making, so that fracture risk associated with design and operation of marine assets are controlled with the minimum life cycle total costs. -> Link to full text in repository

Efficient inspection and maintenance are important means to enhance fatigue reliability of engineering structures, but they can only be achieved efficiently with the aid of accurate pre-diction of fatigue crack initiation and growth until fracture. The influence of crack initiation on fatigue life has received a significant amount of attention in the literature, although its im-pact on the inspection plan is not generally addressed. Current practice in the prediction of fatigue life is the use of S-N models at the design stage and Fracture Mechanics (FM) models in service. On the one hand, S-N models are relatively easy to apply given that they directly relate fatigue stress amplitude to number of cycles of failure, however, they are difficult to extrapolate outside the test conditions employed to define the S-N curves. On the other hand, FM models like the Paris propagation law give measurable fatigue damage accumulation in terms of crack growth and have some ability to extrapolate results outside the test conditions, but they can only be a total fatigue life model if the initial crack size was known given that they do not address the crack initiation period. Furthermore, FM models generally introduce large uncertainties in parameters that are often difficult to measure such as initial crack size, crack growth rate, threshold value for stress intensity factor range, etc. This paper proposes a modified FM model that predicts the time to failure allowing for crack initiation period. The main novelty of the modified FM model is the calibration using S-N data (i.e., inclusive of crack initiation period) for an established criterion in fatigue life and reliability level. Sources of uncertainty associated to the model are quantified in probabilistic terms. The modified FM model can then be applied to reliability-based inspection planning. An illustrative example is performed on a typical detail of ship structure, where the optimum inspection plan derived from the proposed model is compared to recommendations by existing FM models. Results demonstrate to what extent is the optimum inspection plan influenced by the crack initiation period. The modified model is shown to be a reliable tool for both fatigue design and fatigue management of inspection and maintenance intervals. -> Link to full text in repository

A problem with fracture mechanics (FM) based fatigue analysis is that reliable information on initial crack/flaw size is often hard to obtain. Also, FM method can’t be applied directly to welded joints with relatively small initial flaws and long crack initiation life. This paper proposes a novel probabilistic FM method based on the equivalent initial flaw size (EIFS) concept. The initial crack size is substituted with EIFS to take both the crack initiation and propagation life into account. Three methods are tested to obtain mean value of EIFS: calibrating to S-N curves, Kitagawa-Takahashi (KT) diagram and fitting to test data. The obtained EIFSs are evaluated by comparing the predicted fatigue lives and crack evolutions with S-N curves and test crack evolution data. The suggested procedure is to derive the mean value of EIFS from S-N curves and the coefficient of variation from KT diagram.  -> Link to full text in repository

Fatigue cracks pose threats to the integrity of welded structures and thus need to be addressed in the whole service lives of structures. In-service inspections are important means to decease the probability of failure due to uncertainties that cannot be accounted for in the design stage. To help schedule inspection actions, the decline curve of reliability index with time needs to be known. A predictive tool is normally developed based on crack propagation models neglecting the crack initiation stage, which leads to conservative predictions for fatigue life. Inspection plans built on those predictions are far from optimal, especially for welds with relatively long crack initiation life. This paper proposes to use a fracture mechanics based reliability analysis method that takes the crack initiation stage into account via the concept of Time-To-Crack-Initiation (TTCI). The optimum inspection plan for a fatigue prone ship structural component is derived by the new approach and compared to the commonly-used method that only considers crack propagation life. Two inspection planning approaches are tested to investigate the influence of incorporating crack initiation period: (i) target reliability approach and, (ii) equidistant inspection times approach. With each planning approach, two inspection methods are adopted: close visual and magnetic particle inspection. The paper concludes with recommendations on the inspection method and planning approach to adopt while considering and without considering the crack initiation stage. [DOI] -> Link to full text in repository

Crack initiation and propagation threatens structural integrity of welded joints and normally inspections are assigned based on crack propagation models. However, the approach based on crack propagation models may not be applicable for some high-quality welded joints, because the initial flaws in them may be so small that it may take long time for the flaws to develop into a detectable size. This raises a concern regarding the inspection planning of high-quality welded joins, as there is no generally acceptable approach for modeling the whole fatigue process that includes the crack initiation period. In order to address the issue, this paper reviews treatment methods for crack initiation period and initial crack size in crack propagation models applied to inspection planning. Generally, there are four approaches, by: 1) Neglecting the crack initiation period and fitting a probabilistic distribution for initial crack size based on statistical data; 2) Extrapolating the crack propagation stage to a very small fictitious initial crack size, so that the whole fatigue process can be modeled by crack propagation models; 3) Assuming a fixed detectable initial crack size and fitting a probabilistic distribution for crack initiation time based on specimen tests; and, 4) Modeling the crack initiation and propagation stage separately using small crack growth theories and Paris law or similar models. The conclusion is that in view of trade-off between accuracy and computation efforts, calibration of a small fictitious initial crack size to S-N curves is the most efficient approach. -> Link to full text in repository