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www.elsevier.com/locate/ijfatigue

Inuence of steel strength on the fatigue reliability of welded

structural components

Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares

Unit of Marine Technology and Engineering, Technical University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior Te cnico, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal

Received 7 January 2003; received in revised form 23 October 2003; accepted 27 October 2003

Abstract

A formulation is presented for the fatigue reliability assessment of imperfect structural components. The model adopts the R6

method, which combines the linear elastic fracture mechanics approach and the full plastic collapse. The utilisation of dierent

steel strength and design solutions is studied. Reliability is predicted by a time variant formulation and the eect of maintenance

is taken into account. It is shown that the savings in cost due to lighter structure of higher strength steel are mitigated by the cost

of more frequent inspections and eventually repairs.

# 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Ships are usually designed based on allowable stres-

ses and checks are made for yielding, ultimate loads

and fatigue. The application of high tensile steel is a

common practice nowadays and there are even

research eorts to consider the applicability of very

high strength steels with yield strength up to 690 MPa

[14]. This allows reducing the thickness of the struc-

ture, which can tolerate higher stress levels and as a

result fatigue strength becomes a driving design factor.

There is not much dierence in the fatigue behaviour

of steels of dierent yield strength at the phase of crack

initiation. However, dierences exist in the crack

propagation regime and this can inuence the design

solutions chosen.

In adopting higher strength steel instead of the tra-

ditional mild steel, designers often look for a solution

in which the structures can be subjected to higher loads

resulting from more extreme operational conditions or

from lighter thin plated structures. These design solu-

tions will result in dierent fatigue life for the same

type of steel. Therefore, this paper explores the con-

sequences of dierent design strategies when adopting

high strength steel and shows their impact when using

steels of dierent properties. Since in ship structures

plates are normally inspected and some are repaired or

replaced during the ships lifetime, the study considers

the entire lifetime of the structure and includes the

eect of repair.

Fatigue life is aected by the randomness of loads,

structural geometry, quality of welds and welding

defects as well as material properties and this recom-

mends the adoption of probabilistic approaches. The

fatigue life of the welded details is predominantly con-

trolled by the growth of pre-existing defects that lead

to small cracks. There are two methods for the evalu-

ation of the fatigue life, the SN approach, which is

used at design stage, and the fracture mechanics

approach.

Fracture mechanics provides an approach of deter-

mining the fatigue life of cracked components. Once a

crack is detected, the integrity of the structure can be

evaluated and the crack growth can be predicted by

fracture mechanics.

An approach that describes the failure modes under

tensile loading resulting in either fracture or plastic col-

lapse is the R6 method [13]. The method was

developed for pressure vessels, which often have very

thick walls in which three-dimensional eects develop

4015.

E-mail address: guedess@mar.ist.utl.pt (C. Guedes Soares).

0142-1123/$ - see front matter #2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.ijfatigue.2003.10.020

and the cracked structural component can have nal

failure due to brittle or ductile fracture.

The R6 method combines the linear elastic fracture

mechanics failure and the fully plastic collapse of the

cracked structure named as two criteria. The two-

failure criterion includes two sets of independent

material properties. The plastic collapse depends on

yield stress only, while the brittle fracture depends on

the critical value of the stress intensity factor K

IC

.

Realistic reliability analysis of structural components

requires the consideration of the possible deterioration

of the structural resistance with time. This may be

either due to eects such as crack initiation and propa-

gation under cyclic loading, to corrosion or by a com-

bination of them [10]. The failure mode depends on

material properties, loading conditions, geometry of

the structure and other factors. Depending on the

respective failure conditions, which are to be analysed,

i.e. serviceability or ultimate collapse, dierent crack

growth models and failure criteria can be adopted as

presented by Schall and Ostergaard [22].

The present paper adopts a dierent approach than

the methods presented by the referred authors, where

the limit state of the crack growth process is adopted

as the only criterion for failure. Here, the failure con-

dition is described as depending on the elasto-plastic

collapse through the R6 approach that presents the

strength assessment of cracked components in a deter-

ministic way. A time dependent formulation to assess

fatigue reliability is adopted here and it is shown that

this method is sensitive to dierent parameters of fabri-

cation and inspection quality as well as to the inspec-

tion policies.

Reliability formulation is used to determine when the

structure needs repair and the number of repairs

required during the lifetime of the structure is used as a

parameter that qualies the design adopted.

2. Fatigue assessment

The total fatigue life of a structural component is the

sum of the time to crack initiation and the time of

crack propagation until critical crack size. For a very

small initial defect and low load levels, there may be a

signicant crack initiation period.

The prediction of the time to crack initiation is based

on the hypothesis that the crack location is subjected

to cyclic stress as a small laboratory specimen. Cyclic

material properties obtained from tests on un-notched

specimens are used to evaluate the material behaviour

in the notch root, taking into account the elastic and

elasto-plastic stress and strain. Small cracks are defects

that can always be found during the fabrication pro-

cess in welded structures.

The period of crack initiation is very short relative to

the crack propagation period. However, it should not

be neglected in the situation when the welds are

improved by post-weld treatment. The crack initiation

life of the material under cyclic stress and strain can be

also described by the fatigue life curves using either the

total strain or a special damage parameter, that takes

into account the inuence of the mean stress [24].

Fricke and Paetzold [7] consider the existence of the

time to crack initiation in fatigue calculations for ship

structures. An expression for the assessment of the time

to crack initiation is also proposed by Akita [1]. For

some purposes, it is practical and suciently accurate

to assume that the time to crack initiation T

i

is related

with the time of crack propagation until critical size T

p

as proposed by the Bureau Veritas [4], T

i

K

T

T

p

;

where K

T

can vary in an interval of 0.1 to 0.15. For the

present study, a value of 0.15 is used.

Two main approaches are available for the evalu-

ation of fatigue. The one perhaps more oriented to

design formulations is the (SN) approach that predicts

the fatigue damage as a function of the number of

cycles at various stress levels. It is a relatively simple

method to apply but it depends on the geometry under

consideration.

The other approach is fracture mechanics. This

method can predict crack size as a function of time and

the Paris and Erdogan [20] equation may be used:

da

dN

CDK

m

1

where a is the crack size, N is the number of cycles, DK

is the stress range intensity factor, and C and m are

material parameters.

The stress intensity factor is given as:

DK DrYa

pa

p

2

where Dr is the stress range and Y(a) is a geometry

function.

This approach is to be applied to a crack in a trans-

verse butt-welded joint. It is assumed that a crack can

be initiated at the weld between the plates and it can

propagate through the thickness of the plate in the

transverse direction by decreasing the net section of the

plate that resists longitudinal loading. This joint is a

realistic one for longitudinal elements of the main ship

hull girder.

Since in this work a comparison will be made of

crack propagation in dierent materials, it is possible

to use simplied models for crack propagation. Thus, it

is assumed that Nm

0

t and Ya Y is a constant and

after substitution of Eq. (2) into Eq. (1) and inte-

754 Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762

gration, one obtains:

at a

1m=2

0

1

m

2

_ _

CDr

m

Y

m

p

m=2

m

0

t

_ _

1=1m=2

;

m 6 2 3

where m

0

is the mean upcrossing rate and t is the time;

Dr

m

is the mth power of the stress range. It has to be

pointed out that for most of the structural joints, the

geometry function is not a constant and the crack size

has to be evaluated numerically.

Considering that the load can be described by the

Weibull distribution [11], the stress range Dr

m

can be

presented as:

Dr

m

c

m

Dr

C 1

m

a

Dr

_ _

4

The scale parameter c

Dr

of the Weibull distribution

is determined from the shape parameter and the refer-

ence stress range response Dr

0

, which is exceeded once

out of the corresponding reference number of the stress

cycles N

0

The latter is determined as the stress range

that corresponds to the N

1

0

probability level and C[ ] is

the incomplete gamma function.

The time for crack propagation T

p

from the initial size

a

0

to the critical crack size a

cr

if m6 2 is calculated as:

T

p

a

1m=2

cr

a

1m=2

0

1

m

2

_ _

CDr

m

Y

m

p

m=2

m

0

5

The complete fatigue life T

f

is then equal to the sum

of the time to crack initiation T

i

with the time to crack

propagation until its critical size T

p

.

The linear elastic fracture mechanics assumes that

the material does not develop a large plastic tip zone

and this can cause signicant error in the predictions.

However, in many marine structures, most of the struc-

tural components are relatively thin and are unable to

maintain a true plane strain condition and the appli-

cation of low steel leads to a very large critical crack

length that cannot be accepted. The application of high

tensile steel allows higher stress levels in structural

detail and at the same time a decrease of the thickness

of the components with the corresponding changes in

building cost.

The utilisation of steels with dierent material char-

acteristics causes dierent behaviour of the crack

propagation and requires a design philosophy to be set.

The material properties r

y

yield stress (N/mm

2

), r

B

2

) and the descriptors of crack

propagation C and m can be found in many places in

the literature as for example in [5,8,12,25,26]. To illus-

trate possible crack behaviour, four dierent steels are

studied, and three design solutions are investigated and

for the cases studied here, those parameters are pre-

sented in Table 1. Steel 1 is related to the low carbon

steel while steel 4 is the high tensile one. All types of

steel used as examples here are typical weldable struc-

tural steels.

The variation of the crack propagation rate (mm/

cycle) as a function stress intensity factor (N/mm

3/2

)

for the steels is presented in Table 1. Calculations were

performed under the consideration that the structural

component is welded by a full penetration butt-weld

with a crack growing transverse to the weld axis. It may

be classied as butt-weld class D based on British Stan-

dards (BS5400) [3] or Norwegian Standards (NS3472)

[18], with the initial crack size being a

0

0:25 mm, fre-

quency m

0

0:067 s

1

and the load coecient k 0:188.

It can be seen from Fig. 1 that for a simulation of a crack

size of a 80 mm in the structural component from steel

1 the rate of crack propagation is 10

3.72

mm/cycle and

the crack size is achieved after 19.7 years.

For the same crack size, the detail manufactured

from steel 2 develops a crack rate of 10

3.36

mm/cycle

and the crack size is achieved after 3 years. For the

details made from steel 3 and 4, crack rates of 10

3.16

and 10

3.14

mm/cycle and the time to achieve a crack

size of 80 mm are 0.6 and 0.8 years, respectively. It is

obvious that the high tensile steels develop higher rates

of crack propagation and require less time for achiev-

ing certain crack size under the same initial condition.

It has to be pointed out that there is no signicant dif-

ference in the fatigue behaviour of the steels studied

here in the phase of crack initiation.

When comparing components designed with steels of

dierent strength, it is assumed that the choice of

Table 1

Material parameters

r

y

(N/mm

2

) r

B

(N/mm

2

) m C

Steel 1 268 456 3.5 8:85 10

15

Steel 2 312 524 3 3:80 10

13

Steel 3 437 655 2.4 1:75 10

11

Steel 4 402 512 2.6 5:27 10

12

Fig. 1. Crack rate variation as a function of steel grade, k

l

0:188.

Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762 755

higher strength steel can be made to achieve dierent

objectives in design and thus three dierent design

solutions are considered in this paper. The design solu-

tions include case I (same load ratio), in which the

structural components from dierent steel strength are

subjected to the same ratio of nominal stress relative to

the yield stress, i.e. the structure with higher strength

steel will be subjected to higher stresses. Case II (same

thickness) is the situation in which the structural com-

ponents are built from dierent steels, have the same

thickness and the same loading but a dierent ratio of

nominal stress relative to the yield stress, i.e. the stres-

ses will be the same in both cases and thus the safety

margin will be larger in the higher strength steel. Case

III (one repair) represents the situation where only one

replacement or repair is allowed during a reference per-

iod of time (20 years) after the crack initiation. To

achieve such a criterion, an increase of plate thickness

has to be made so as to lead to the reduction of the

loading of the joints manufactured by the steel that tol-

erates higher crack growth rate. The crack propagation

for all studied cases is shown in Figs. 2 and 3.

The point of time where the crack growth calculated

by the formula of ParisErdogan changes its sign from

positive to negative is called explosion time and can be

related with an innite crack growth as was suggested

by Sindel et al. [23]:

T

exp

a

1m=2

0

1

m

2

_ _

Cp

m=2

Dr

m

m

0

Y

m

6

The crack explosion time depends on crack size and

has a physical restriction. It can be shown that for cer-

tain values of time, the crack length can have a singu-

lar value and for some values of time even a negative

value of size. It has to be noticed that such phenomena

exist due to the approximation in the model of the

crack growth rate and additional discussion may be

found in Sindel et al. [23].

It is considered that whenever there is a plate failure

which occurs at the time of crack explosion, the plate is

replaced. Therefore, the number of repairs calculated is

counted as the number of crack explosion periods that

can occur in a time interval of 20 years. The summary

of the results for the crack growth as a function of

design thickness, load and number of repairs is given in

Tables 24 and Figs. 24.

It can be seen that keeping the ratio of nominal

stress to the yield stress constant will permit reduction

of the thickness (see Fig. 4, A) of the structural compo-

nents from high tensile steels, but at the same time it

will increase the rate of crack propagation that will

result in a more intensive repair work (case I) (see

Fig. 4, B).

If all structural components are manufactured with

the same thickness (case II) and if they are explored in

similar environmental conditions, this will result in a

situation where components built from low carbon

steel will be much more stressed (relatively to the yield

stress) than those from high tensile steel (see Fig. 4, C).

The maximum number of repairs continues to occur in

the components made from high tensile steel (see Fig. 4,

D).

In case III where the design philosophy is that only

one repair is allowed during the fatigue life of 20 years,

this results in an increase of the thickness for the ele-

ments with high tensile steel (see Fig. 4, E) and this

reects in a reduction of the stress level, as a percent-

age of the yield stress (see Fig. 4, F).

Fig. 2. Crack propagation (leftsame load and rightsame thickness).

756 Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762

3. Reliability assessment of unrepaired component

To nd out a reasonable solution for the problem

discussed here, a time variant reliability approach is

formulated based on the R6 approach.

Based on the R6 method, four levels of fracture

assessment procedures of increasing accuracy and com-

plexity are incorporated in the British Standards (BS

7910) [2]. Level 1 is termed the screening method and is

generally more conservative than Levels 3 and 4. Levels

2 and 3 are partly based on the R6 method.

The fracture assessment procedure is based on the

concept of the failure assessment diagram. The hori-

zontal axis represents the likelihood of failure by plas-

tic collapse, while the vertical axis that of the

toughness input in terms of stress intensity, which is

the likelihood of failure by fracture. In general, the

interaction between these two modes of failure is

accounted for by a failure curve on the fatigue assess-

ment diagram and the stress limit of instability of crack

propagation may be given as:

r

f

2r

y

p

arccos exp

pK

2

IC

8r

2

y

a

_ _ _ _

1

_

_

_

_

_

_

7

Eq. (7) used here as an example for fatigue assessment

criteria is dierent than the one specied by British

Energy R6, Rev. 4, 2001, and does not limit the pro-

posed approach.

The critical stress intensity factor for all steels stud-

ied here (all typical weldable structural steels used in

marine and shipbuilding application) is calculated

based on the consideration that half crack length

equals 80 mm. This consideration is based on the fact

that for the marine structures that belong to the high

risk class structure, any crack detected during the

inspection has to be treated (repair or replacement of

structural component) independent of the fact that

some cracks may still propagate much time before

reaching their critical length. In the present approach,

only one repair strategy is applied, such that the

repaired structural component behaves as a new one

without taking into account any possible collateral

damaging eect of the repair action.

The assessment of the stresses generates an assess-

ment point on the fatigue assessment diagram. If this

point lies on or within the assessment curve, then the

crack length is acceptable. If the assessment point lies

outside the assessment curve, the crack is not accept-

able and some action is required for example repair or

replacement. It should be noted that in terms of the

fatigue assessment diagram, plastic collapse usually

refers to local straining of the ligament near the crack,

rather than global yielding of the structure.

The threshold limit 1(t) for the period of time when

crack is initiated t > T

i

, (at >a

0

) is given as:

1t

2r

y

p

arccos exp

pK

2

IC

8r

2

y

at

_ _ _ _

1

_

_

_

_

_

_

; t > T

i

8

The material can sustain a certain amount of slow

stable crack growth after the time of crack initiation

Table 3

Design solutionscase II (same thickness)

Steel Thickness

(mm)

Dr

(MPa)

k

l

()

Repairs

()

T

exp

(years)

t

a80 mm

(years)

I 10.00 50.57 0.189 1 20 19.7

II 10.00 50.57 0.169 4 4.95 4.7

III 10.00 50.57 0.116 7.1 2.82 1.9

IV 10.00 50.57 0.126 7 2.85 2.3

Fig. 3. Crack propagation (only one repair).

Table 2

Design solutionscase I (same load)

Steel Thickness

(mm)

Dr

(MPa)

k

l

()

Repairs

()

T

exp

(years)

t

a80 mm

(years)

I 10.00 50.57 0.189 1 20 19.7

II 8.59 58.87 0.189 6.4 3.14 2.96

III 6.13 82.45 0.189 23 0.87 0.59

IV 6.67 75.85 0.189 20.2 0.99 0.82

Table 4

Design solutionscase III (only one repair)

Steel Thickness

(mm)

Dr

(MPa)

k

l

()

Repairs

()

T

exp

(years)

t

a80 mm

(years)

I 10.00 50.57 0.189 1 20 19.7

II 15.93 31.75 0.102 1 20 20

III 22.63 22.34 0.015 1 20 20

IV 21.16 23.90 0.059 1 20 20

Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762 757

and the failure can occur after a period of stable crack

growth by increasing crack velocity or by brittle frac-

ture associated with low temperature. The probability

of failure after crack initiation is described as [10]:

P

a

T 1 exp

_

T

0

m1tdt

_ _

; t > T

i

9

If the loading is considered as a stationary Gaussian

process, or even non-stationary and non-Gaussian, and

the stress amplitudes follow the Weibull distribution,

the upcrossing rate of the threshold may be given as [17]:

m1t m

0

exp

1t

c

Dr

_ _

a

Dr

_ _

10

Using the same principle for the probability of fail-

ure before crack initiation is given as:

P

b

T 1 exp exp

1

c

Dr

_ _

m

0

T

_ _

; t T

i

11

The probability of non-failure before and after crack

initiation R(t) is obtained as:

Rt 1 P

t 12

where the probability of failure P

is to be understood

as before (P

b

) or after (P

a

) crack initiation depending

on the status of the fatigue crack growth. Since the

time to crack initiation is a random variable, the con-

ditional reliability of the element with a crack may be

expressed as follows:

RT

_

T

0

Rtjt

i

f

t

i

tdt 13

where R(t|t

i

) is the conditional reliability under the con-

dition that the crack is initiated at time t and f

t

i

t is

the probability density function of the time to crack

initiation that is described by a Weibull probability

density function:

f

T

i

t

a

T

i

c

T

i

t

c

T

i

_ _

a

T

i

1

exp

t

c

T

i

_ _

a

T

i

_ _

14

where a

T

i

2 and c

T

i

18 years are considered here.

Some authors prefer to describe the time to crack

initiation by the lognormal distribution, although there

is not much experimental evidence to choose one or the

other. However, since the initiation time is quite small

compared with the propagation time, the dierent

choice may not have a large impact.

Taking into account the probability of time to crack

initiation for the reliability in the service life, [0,T] is

written as:

RT1F

t

i

TR

b

T

_

T

0

f

t

i

tR

b

tR

a

Ttdt 15

The rst term is the probability of non-failure under

the condition that the crack is not initiated before the

time for inspection [0,T]. The second term is the prob-

ability of non-failure under the condition that the crack

is initiated in a service time [0,T].

Figs. 57 present the results obtained for all types of

steels (steels 14) and design solutions (cases IIII).

Fig. 5a shows that in the basic case of steel 1, there is

no repair until 20 years. The component of steel 2 has

a repair at 3.14 years and this will require 6 repairs

Fig. 4. Design solutions in terms of plate thickness and the lifetime number of required repairs.

758 Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762

during the 20 years. For steels 3 and 4, the reliability

functions decrease abruptly as there are repairs before

1 year (see Table 2), and in the scale of the gure, the

reliability function coincides with the axis of the ordi-

nates.

Fig. 5b depicts the reliability functions for case II,

which is summarised in Table 3. The explosion times

for steels 24 are larger in this case and the numbers of

repairs during lifetime are around 4 for steels 2 and 7

for steels 3 and 4.

Fig. 6a shows case III in which the thickness has to

be very much increased for all high strength steels. As

a consequence, the reliability function is always higher

than that for mild steel obviously at the cost of more

material and weight.

Figs. 6b and 7 show the same results in a dierent

way. For steel 2 adopting design solutions 1 and 2, i.e.

keeping the same relative stress level, and keeping the

same thickness leads to few repairs during lifetime and

the reliability levels are close to each other and lower

than that in case III. The functions applicable to steels

3 and 4 are shown in Fig. 7 and they have the same

type of pattern as steel 2, but the eects are amplied.

In many cases, ship structures are designed so that

there is no need of repair during the lifetime. This cor-

responds to case III and for this to be achieved very

thick structures need to be considered if one wants to

use high strength steel instead of mild steel. Therefore,

in this case, there is no advantage in using high

strength steel.

Fig. 5. Inuence of dierent steels on reliability function (cases I(a) and II(b)).

Fig. 6. Inuence of dierent steels (case III(a)) and dierent design solutions (steel 2(b)) on reliability function.

Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762 759

In case I, keeping the same relative load will allow

one to use thinner plates for the high strength steel sol-

ution and this means lower weights and costs. How-

ever, several repairs will be required during ship

lifetime thus generating additional cost.

Finally, case II shows that by keeping the same

thickness, the relative load on the components will be

lower in the high strength steels and this can be ben-

ecial for other types of failure modes. However, also

in this case, the number of repairs will be higher for

high strength steel.

So, in conclusion, it is observed that the advantages

that high strength steel can bring in cases I and II are

overshadowed by the larger number of repairs required

due to a higher crack propagation rate in these steels.

In order to have the low weight advantage of this

type of steels, one needs to avoid the crack initiation

phase by improved quality of fabrication and structural

details have to be accompanied with a detailed inspec-

tion policy.

There are several other ways of improving the fati-

gue reliability of structural components such as better

design of the geometry of the structural components

that will lead to reduction of stress concentration fac-

tors, better quality of manufacturing and introducing

specialised inspection policies.

When dealing with imperfect and already built struc-

tural components, there are several ways for improve-

ment: frequent inspections, rened tools of inspection,

and special treatment of the repair work that will

reduce the initial defects and as a result the moment of

possible occurrence and propagation of cracks will be

delayed. In fact, the frequent repairs that high strength

steels require increase the probability of introducing

initial defects during repair work and inducing prema-

ture failure.

4. Reliability of repaired component

Inspections are routinely made for structures in ser-

vice and they may result in the detection or non-detec-

tion of the defects. The size of a detected crack is

measured by a non-destructive method. Fatigue dam-

age is expressed by a fatigue crack growth that is a

function of time. It is assumed that if a fatigue crack is

detected, it is repaired.

The inspection quality depends on detecting the

crack and quantifying its size. In principle, each detec-

tion technique will have a limit size of detection, a

d,0

,

under which cracks will not be detected, i.e. in general

for detection, it is necessary that:

at ! a

d;0

16

The inspection procedure is not a deterministic one

because of measuring inaccuracies and therefore the

inspection capability may be described by the prob-

ability of detection [19]:

P

d

t

1 exp

2at a

d;0

k

d

_ _

; if 2at > a

d;0

0; if 2at a

d;0

_

_

_

17

where the descriptors of the above equation as are

considered for the calculation later are k

d

a

d;0

=

ln1 k, k 0:95, a

d;0

5 mm and a

d;k

20 mm.

The inspection quality is characterised by the para-

meter k

d

which has values between 0 and 1. The lower

Fig. 7. Inuence of dierent design solutions on reliability function (steels 3(a) and 4(b)).

760 Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762

limit corresponds to a perfect inspection and when

k

d

1 the plate has not been inspected.

The cracked structural component can be in three

dierent states. The rst one corresponds to the case

when it is not possible to detect any crack because the

crack size is less than a

d,0

. The second state includes

the situation when there is some probability of detec-

tion but the crack size is less than a

d

, thus the prob-

ability of detection is less than P

d

(a

d

) and the element

with a crack is not repaired. The third state represents

the case in which the crack is larger than a

d

and the

element with such a crack is repaired. After repair,

the crack size will be a

0

which is its initial size. The

reliability of the structural component after repair will

be the same as for the new element.

It should be noted that the real measurements of a

crack size usually involve a large scatter on the prob-

ability of detection, which reects the dierent math-

ematical models describing P

d

t. This uncertainty

aects very much the reliability as is shown by Madsen

[16]. Rudlin and Wolstenholme [21] showed that the

choice of an inspection method could have a noticeable

eect on the probability of detection. Detailed analysis

of the problem can be found in Delmar and Sorensen [6].

The structural component can belong to one of the

two states. The rst includes the state where the

component is repaired at the time of the last inspection

T

j

. The second one includes the situation when the

element is not repaired at the time of the last inspec-

tion T

j

.

The reliability in the service interval T

j

;T

j1

of the

element with a crack that is repaired at the time of the

last inspection R

r

l;j1

t is:

R

r

l;j1

t 1 F

t

i

T

j1

T

j

_ _ _

R

b

T

j1

T

j

_ _

_

T

j1

T

j

f

t

i

t T

j

_ _

R

b

t T

j

_ _

R

a

T

j1

t

_ _

dt

18

Using the third axiom of probability theory (e.g.

[15]), the probability of non-failure in the time interval

T

r

;T

j1

_

can be written as:

P C

T

r

;T

j

\ C

T

j

;T

j1

_ _

P C

T

r

;T

j

C

T

j

;T

j1

_ _

P C

T

j

;T

j1

_ _

19

where C

T

r

;t

is the probability of non-failure in the time

interval T

r

;t, where t 2 T

j

;T

j1

and C

T

r

;T

j

are the

probabilities of non-failure in the time interval T

r

;T

j

.

The case C

T

r

;t

implies the probability of non-failure in

all the intervals up to T

j

, C

T

r

;T

j

. The probability of

non-failure in the time interval T

j

;t, where t 2

T

j

;T

j1

is written as C

T

j

;t

.

Eq. (19) may be rewritten as a denition of the con-

ditional probability of non-failure in the service inter-

val T

j

;t as:

P C

T

j

;t

_ _

P C

T

r

;T

j

\ C

T

j

;t

_ _

P C

T

r

;T

j

C

T

j

;t

_ _ 20

However, since the left-hand side of Eq. (20) is equal to

the probability of non-failure for the structural compo-

nent that was not repaired at the time of the last

inspection T

j

, then:

R

nr

l;j1

t P C

T

j

;t

_ _

21

Eqs. (18) and (20) describe the states of crack initiation,

crack growth, crack detection, and repair. At the last

state, the structural component is repaired to its original

condition and the crack propagation starts again.

The formulation presented here is applied for the

reliability assessment of imperfect structural compo-

nent made by steel 3, subject to the nominal stress that

is 0.051 of the yield stress. The inspections are made

every fourth year. However, the proposed approach

may t any specic condition and the load applied here

is just an example to demonstrate its applicability.

Two dierent inspection policies are considered for

comparative analyses. They reect the good

(a

d

! 5 mm) reliability level, where a

d

is calculated as

a

d

2at a

d;0

. An illustration of reliability is shown

in Fig. 8. Having dierent characteristics of inspection

policies keeps reliability at dierent levels. Detailed

analysis of dierent inspection techniques and their

application for structural reliability can also be found

in Garbatov and Guedes Soares [9].

Fig. 8. Inuence of maintenance and repair policies on reliability

function.

Y. Garbatov, C. Guedes Soares / International Journal of Fatigue 26 (2004) 753762 761

5. Conclusion

A model has been presented here which can deter-

mine the fatigue reliability of imperfect structural com-

ponents considering two criterion method (R6), which

combines the linear elastic fracture mechanics

approach and the full plastic collapse. Fatigue

reliability is predicted as a time variant reliability,

which shows step changes whenever a repair is per-

formed. Dierent criteria for crack detection and for

the eect of repair cost can be easily incorporated.

Dierent assumptions were made about loading and

material properties that are not essential to the method

but are needed for the example. The study presented

here has shown the advantages and disadvantages of

utilising high tensile steel for imperfect structural com-

ponents in the stage of crack growth.

The application of high tensile steel requires more

care during the manufacturing process and its use is

reected in frequent inspections and in the required

good quality of repair work. There will be a trade-o

between the savings with reduction of the plate thick-

ness of structural components due to high tensile steel

and reduction of the weight of the structure against the

costs of more frequent repair work and better quality

of manufacturing and inspection polices.

Acknowledgements

This paper is a report of a study developed in the

project, High Tensile Steel 690 in Fast Ship Structures

(FASDHTS), CEC BRITE/EURAM Programme

(20002004), which was partially nanced by the Eur-

opean Union through contract no. GRD1-1999-10558.

The partners were: TNO Building and Construction

Research, Centre for Mechanical Engineering (NL),

GF Industriteknik AB (S), AG der Dillinger Hutten-

werke (D), Alstom Chantiers de lAtlantique (F),

Bureau Veritas (F), Chalmers University of Tech-

nology AB (S), Flensburger Schibau mbH&Co. KG

(D), Germanischer Lloyd AG (D), Instituto Superior

Tecnico (P), Lisnave Estaleiros Navais SA (P), Royal

Schelde group BV (NL), Technische Universitat Ham-

burgHarburg (D) and Van der GiessenDe Noord

shipbuilding division BV (NL).

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