ASSESSMENT OF INTEGRAL BRIDGES USING QUANTITATIVE MODEL EVALUATION
Numerical simulations in the general field of civil engineering are common for the design process of structures and/or the assessment of existing buildings. The behaviour of these structures is analytically unknown and is approximated with numerical simulation methods like the Finite Element Method (FEM). Therefore the real structure is transferred into a global model (GM, e.g. concrete bridge) with a wide range of sub models (partial models PM, e.g. material modelling, creep). These partial models are coupled together to predict the behaviour of the observed structure (GM) under different conditions. The engineer needs to decide which models are suitable for computing realistically and efficiently the physical processes determining the structural behaviour. Theoretical knowledge along with the experience from prior design processes will influence this model selection decision. It is thus often a qualitative selection of different models. The goal of this paper is to present a quantitative evaluation of the global model quality according to the simulation of a bridge subject to direct loading (dead load, traffic) and indirect loading (temperature), which induce restraint effects. The model quality can be separately investigated for each partial model and also for the coupled partial models in a global structural model. Probabilistic simulations are necessary for the evaluation of these model qualities by using Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis. The method is applied to the simulation of a semi-integral concrete bridge with a monolithic connection between the superstructure and the piers, and elastomeric bearings at the abutments. The results show that the evaluation of global model quality is strongly dependent on the sensitivity of the considered partial models and their related quantitative prediction quality. This method is not only a relative comparison between different models, but also a quantitative representation of model quality using probabilistic simulation methods, which can support the process of model selection for numerical simulations in research and practice.