AUTONOM: Integrated through-life support for high-value systems

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment

Abstract

Summary - This proposal extends research in novel sensing, e-maintenance systems, and decision-making strategies. It is supported by the EPSRC National Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services. Maintenance of widely-dispersed assets is expensive because it involves widespread inspection, checking and measurement. The integration of sensor-based information in geographically dispersed and less structured environments poses challenges in technology and cost justification. Academic challenges include improvement of embedded sensing, reliable estimation of monitoring parameters, a unified approach to the mathematics and data structures, and a rigorous approach to cost estimation and benefit analysis. The industrial drivers include standardisation, automation, connectivity, and reduction of unit cost.
We will build on e-maintenance principles in automated, intelligent maintenance in the context of industrial application: transitions from sensor level to management decision-making. Within the integration architecture we will investigate some research challenges in depth:
- Requirements for interchange of maintenance data between fixed and mobile actors, e.g. track-to-train data exchange in rail or aerospace applications.
- Automation of monitoring on mobile platforms, and interface with other actors and fixed systems.
- New cost modelling tools for complex distributed health monitoring, and especially the value to the business.
The novelty lies in the implementation of effective information flows and analysis techniques to support optimisation, and uncertainty based resource scheduling, capturing business "pull" which struggles with lag in the data, and insufficient tools to turn it into information for decision making.
Aims and Objectives: The overall aim is to enable improved integration between architectural levels in data-rich environments in automated, intelligent maintenance, responding to business pull and demonstrating value.
Objectives:
- Identification of the industrial pull for plant and fixed asset management information for maintenance decisions, in the context of technologically rich data sources; i.e. designing the condition based maintenance from the top down.
- Transition between architectural levels, from data to information to decision, embedding automatic functionality in appropriate hardware such as wireless platforms and RFID. Transfer between fixed and mobile actors.
- Improved data fusion in condition monitoring problems in large data sets.
- A demonstrated methodology for mining and optimally reconfiguring maintenance data in the form of a business process.
- An estimation tool for cost, value and benefits, with validated application.
In a programme directed by industrial "pull", four work packages will cover
- Integration, with milestones "Think tank" event report; Definition of data/information and information/decision transitions, illustrated by industrial cases; Strategy document for design; Final report.
- Data fusion and mobile platforms, with milestones: Strategy for fusion of multiple unsynchronised sensor data; Case studies of fused multiple unsynchronised sensor data; Strategy for top-down monitoring system design; Reporting/message passing architecture - proof of concept.
- Planning and Scheduling Based on Intelligent Reconfigurable Business Processes, with milestones: Identification of a representative set of business processes, in cooperation with the partners; The multi-objective optimisation framework; Validation on a partner's example.
- Cost Analysis, with milestones: Identification of best practice cost modelling methods, and cost benefit analysis and value analysis; Development of cost and value models; Framework for estimating costs and benefits of integrated maintenance to the business; Framework for estimating through life costs and benefits of distributed heterogeneous high integrity assets, and Validation of tool set.

Planned Impact

This research sets out to further automate the transitions between the architectural levels in automated, intelligent maintenance. The research will examine the characteristics of the levels and their transitions, in the context of industrial application, from sensor level to management decision-making. It will put additional effort into quantifying the value of the maintenance technology proposition.

The first beneficiary group to consider is our sponsoring companies. Economically, the cost of maintenance systems in high integrity equipment is dwarfed by the losses relating to loss of production/availability; safety implications; and damage to high capital plant, through spares/repairs/replacement. Moreover the competitiveness of global organisations is increasingly determined by availability, avoiding failure, and the ability rapidly to restore service after failure. The work will ensure that these factors are properly estimated, to allow "pull through" of appropriate and optimised solutions. The impact will be in the growth and reduction of losses from improved availability.

In large industrial endeavours the wider impact is through the supply chain. Many businesses, including a wide range of SMEs, support our sponsors, and it is those who will manufacture and support the systems which we propose, over the longer term. Large businesses concentrate on their core business, buying in products and services from wide range of companies - in this case the sensing hardware, IT solutions, expertise, software, and routine monitoring services will form the future business of many small companies. The impact will be in new opportunities for growth in products and services, in a customer base much wider than the sponsors alone.

The societal impact of such work is more difficult to quantify directly. Companies' competitiveness will offer better prospects of continued employment. The ability to share data and expertise remotely and through time zones could benefit those who work part-time and from home, a group who are disproportionately female in the UK. But the online and asynchronous nature of work in monitoring and diagnostics could also offer the opportunity to penetrate markets in other time zones - and by extension, overseas suppliers could penetrate the UK market unless we foster local provision. The impact will be in employment opportunities and security in a wide group of companies, partnerships and sole traders.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a model for integrating technical inputs, planning and scheduling, and cost effectiveness, to allow automatic scheduling of work on the railway to achieve optimized effectiveness and impact.
We concluded that:
- Integration of technical and business information requires strategy, that some practitioners are dismissive at first, but the embedding of expert domain knowledge is critical to effective transition from data to information, to decision. Costing patterns for technical decisions were highly non-linear and needed in-depth analysis in partnership with users.
- Analytics give strategic insight for the partners: ownership of large scale rich data needs intelligent examination and dialogue in order to create autonomous decision-making. Key scaling factors in time will be necessary to create the real system impact - i.e. lots more measurement but with autonomous monitoring.
- Architecture re-usable: research tools which produce proof-of-concept can yield design concepts which will be readily reused in further development.
Exploitation Route The methods will be used by our existing industrial partners for evaluating data-rich technology options, and we have interest from infrastructure, transport and defence companies. The challenge of maintaining geographically dispersed or mobile equipment of long life and high value is shared over several industries.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport,Other

URL https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/research-projects/autonom
 
Description The findings have been used for internal briefing by our industry partners.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Transport,Other
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Innovate UK - CLOSER
Amount £2,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 08/2018
 
Description Shift2Rail projects 
Organisation ABB Group
Department ABB Corporate Research Centre (Switzerland)
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributions to In2Track in track design in self-adjusting points operating equipment; Contributions to In2Smart in simulation, V&V of "rail robot"; prototyping of scale "rail robot" physical demonstrator; proof of concept of non-contact rail damage sensing; proof-of-concept of cobot working
Collaborator Contribution Consultation with objectives, technical assistance, planning, monitoring work in progress, and dissemination.
Impact Proofs of concept; report contributions to In2Smart; physical demonstrator for "rail robot"
Start Year 2018
 
Description Shift2Rail projects 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributions to In2Track in track design in self-adjusting points operating equipment; Contributions to In2Smart in simulation, V&V of "rail robot"; prototyping of scale "rail robot" physical demonstrator; proof of concept of non-contact rail damage sensing; proof-of-concept of cobot working
Collaborator Contribution Consultation with objectives, technical assistance, planning, monitoring work in progress, and dissemination.
Impact Proofs of concept; report contributions to In2Smart; physical demonstrator for "rail robot"
Start Year 2018
 
Description Shift2Rail projects 
Organisation Transport Systems Catapult
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contributions to In2Track in track design in self-adjusting points operating equipment; Contributions to In2Smart in simulation, V&V of "rail robot"; prototyping of scale "rail robot" physical demonstrator; proof of concept of non-contact rail damage sensing; proof-of-concept of cobot working
Collaborator Contribution Consultation with objectives, technical assistance, planning, monitoring work in progress, and dissemination.
Impact Proofs of concept; report contributions to In2Smart; physical demonstrator for "rail robot"
Start Year 2018
 
Description AIS Conference 8-10 July 2014 Penrith 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The AIS partnership shared work in progress

Industry/academic partners shared views on progress and planning
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description AIS conference 2-3 Sep 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Introduced a demonstrator of our research to a primary audience

Raised interest in using our demonstrator for industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Engagement and data day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event took place at Network Rail's head office at Milton Keynes to engage more of the staff in the project. Network Rail is the key industrial partner in the project. The results were several improved partnership opportunities in support for overhead line maintenance, and remote condition monitoring.

Our cost engineering work package used over half a million overhead line incidents to improve estimation methods.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Exhibition, Maintec 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Shared work in progress with engineers visiting exhibition

New partnership opportunities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Exhibition, Plant and Asset management NEC Birmingham 8-10 April 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Sharing work in progress with practitioners

Opportunities for partnerships
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation at exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact presentation was given at SMART transportation addressing congestion through innovative solutions seminar

Opportunities for partnerships
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Railtex2015 industry awareness event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Wider dissemination of the research

Reach of project to a wider audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Seminar at Network Rail Nov-Dec 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact New contacts raised applications for the research.

The work reached a wider group of beneficiaries at the main industrial partner of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Seminar: What is cost engineering? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Shared induction learning

Shared work in progress
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description TES 2014 conference exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation poster presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The research was disseminated to a wider audience

Invitations from other companies to discuss further work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.through-life-engineering-services.org/tesconf/past/tesconf-2014/