An Interpretable Method for Operational Modal Analysis in Time-Frequency Representation and Its Applications to Railway Sleepers

Yuanchen Zeng, Chen Shen, Alfredo Núñez, Rolf Dollevoet, Weihua Zhang, Zili Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


Operational modal analysis (OMA) enables the identification of modal characteristics under operational loads and conditions. Traditional frequency-domain methods cannot directly capture modal changes over time, while existing time-frequency representations are not sufficiently interpretable due to spurious modes and implicit parameter design. This paper develops a new OMA method in time-frequency representation based on frequency-domain decomposition (FDD). Short-time FDD and a convolution-based strategy are proposed to obtain singular values and local mode shape similarity, respectively, which are further fused into mode indicators by a fuzzy-based strategy mimicking the modal assurance criterion. The method provides not only a global view of the modal characteristics over time and frequency but also estimates of the modal parameters. It is applicable to strongly nonstationary responses under time-varying loads and conditions. All the parameters explicitly affect the time-frequency representation, and the interpretability is enhanced by including physical information from the user's prior knowledge in selecting parameters and peak bands. The proposed method is validated based on a study of railway sleepers under train passage. The rigid-body motions and bending modes are identified at frequencies up to 6,500 Hz in laboratory tests and 4,500 Hz in field tests at speeds up to 200 km/h. The identified natural frequencies and mode shapes agree with experimental modal analysis (EMA). The proposed method outperforms EMA in terms of broad frequency range and low measurement cost and can be potentially applied to structural health monitoring under operational conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6420772
Number of pages26
JournalStructural Control and Health Monitoring
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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