Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical & Electronic Engineering

First Advisor

Prof. John Barrett


Remote structural and machinery health monitoring (SMHM) of marine structures such as ships, oil and gas rigs, freight container terminals, and marine energy platforms can ensure their reliability. However, the wired sensors currently used in these applications are difficult and expensive to install and maintain. Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) can potentially replace them but there are significant capability gaps that currently prevent their long-term deployment in the harsh marine environment and the structurally-complex, compartmentalised, all-metal scenarios with high volume occupancy of piping, ducting and operational machinery represented by marine structures. These gaps are in sensing, processing and communication hardware and firmware capabilities, reduction of power consumption, hardware assembly and packaging for reliability in the marine environment, reliability of wireless connectivity in the complex metal structures, and software for WSN deployment planning in the marine environment. Taken together, these gaps highlight the need for a systems integration methodology for marine SMHM and this is the focus of the research presented in this thesis. The research takes an applied approach by first designing the hardware and firmware for two wireless sensing modules specifically for marine SMHM, one a novel eddy-current-based 3D module for measuring multi-axis metal structural displacement, the second a fully integrated module for monitoring of structure and machinery reliability. The research then addresses module assembly and packaging methods to ensure reliability in the marine environment, the development of an efficient methodology for characterising the reliability of wireless connectivity in complex metal structures, and development of user interface software for planning WSN deployment and for managing the collection of WSN data. These are then individually and collectively characterised and tested for performance and reliability in laboratory, land-based and marine deployments. In addition to the research outcomes in each of these individual aspects, the overall research outcome represents a systems integration methodology that now allows deployment, with a high expectation of reliability of marine SMHM WSNs.


This work was supported by Science Foundation Ireland through The SFI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Research (MaREI) under Grant 12/RC/2302.

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