Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an effective and simple technique for structural parameter identification, particularly to identify multiple cracks in a structure using simultaneous measurement of acceleration responses and voltage signals from PZT patches which is a multidisciplinary approach. A hybrid element constituted of one-dimensional beam element and a PZT sensor is used with reduced material properties which is very convenient for beams and is a novel application for inverse problems. Design/methodology/approach – Multi-objective formulation is used whereby structural parameters are identified by minimizing the deviation between the predicted and measured values from the PZT patch and acceleration responses, when subjected to excitation. In the proposed method, a patch is attached to either end of the fixed beam. Using particle swarm optimization algorithm, normalized fitness functions are defined for both voltage and acceleration components with weighted aggregation multi-objective optimization technique. The signals are polluted with 5 percent Gaussian noise to simulate experimental noise. The effects of various weighting factors for the combined objective function are studied. The scheme is also experimentally validated by identification of cracks in a fixed-fixed beam. Findings – The numerical and experimental results shows that significant improvement in accuracy of damage detection is achieved by the combined multidisciplinary method, when compared with only voltage or only acceleration-matching method as well as with other methods. Originality/value – The proposed multidisciplinary crack identification approach, which is based on one-dimensional PZT patch model as well as conventional acceleration method, is not reported in the literature. © Emerald Publishing Limited.