Stepping towards the industrial 6th Sense

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Chemical Engineering

Abstract

We, human beings, acquire information from our surroundings through our sensory receptors of vision, sound, smell, touch and taste -the five senses. The sensory stimulus is converted to electrical signals as nerve impulse data communicated with our brain. What is really intriguing is the communication network. When one or more senses fail (impairment), we are able to reestablish communication and improve our other senses to protect us from incoming dangers. Furthermore, we have developed the mechanism of "reasoning", effectively analyzing the present data and generating a vision of the future, which we might call our 6th Sense (6S). Is it possible to develop a 6S technology to predict a catastrophic disaster? Industrial processes are already equipped with five senses: "hearing" from acoustic sensors, "smelling" from gas and liquid sensors, "seeing" from camera, "touching" from vibration sensors and "tasting" from composition monitors. 6S could be achieved by forming a sensing network which is self-adaptive and self-repairing, carrying out deep-thinking analysis with even limited data, and predicting the sequence of events via integrated system modelling. This project is the first step towards developing a 6S technology for industrial processes by bringing together research expertise in process systems engineering, wireless communication network, robotic and autonomous systems. The 6S technology developed in this project could be further explored to a wide range of industrial and manufacturing processes.

Planned Impact

This project is highly multi-disciplinary by bringing together research expertise in process system engineering, wireless communication network, robotic and autonomous systems and cyber security. The 6th Sense technology is driven by a self-management sensor network and will be applicable to many industrial processes. We have selected two most challenging industrial cases for 6S technology, namely oil refineries and nuclear power plants which represent the most complexity for chemical and manufacturing processes. By overcoming those challenges, 6S will be in a good position to be explored to a wider range of industrial sectors. The UK oil and gas sector is one of the biggest contributor to UK tax revenues and paid £2.2 billion in production tax in 2014/15. Also, nuclear power is expected to play a significant role in the energy mix over the coming decades to realise Government's Carbon plan to reduce UK's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050. The 6S will enable smart operation of energy plants and will be highly beneficial in delivering a secure, sustainable and low-carbon energy future. The EPSRC "Delivery Plan 2016-2020" also highlighted, business innovation via digital transformation, capitalising on the Internet of Things, reliable infrastructure and better solutions to acute threats as some of the priority areas for strategic programmes. This research will have direct impact on the existing energy and digital technology research programmes in the UK. The rich experience from each investigator working with industry and policy makers will help the project outcomes to achieve the large impact they deserve.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1. A robotic platform is being developed and tested for integration into the autonomous plant system. The robot is able to manoeuvre within the Fluor pilot plant. Sensors will be mounted to the robots for additional data collection. Object detection is implemented into the robot so it can identify all the objects in the plant. A generic approach is being developed to allow the robot to take non-specific task without prior-knowledge.
2. Nowa communication network is being examined for massive connectivity for industrial plants and rapid data transmission. 5G test will be carried out to control valves in the Fluor pilot plant remotely.
3. VR platform for Fluor plant is being developed and near completion with full functionality for the plant including valve control, visualisation of flow and reaction etc. The VR platform is further enhanced with interaction to allow trainers to have the same experience and functions as using the real plant, including open/close the valves with direct change of flow rates and operational parameters, online flow sheet diagram and functional alarm/warning etc.
4. Process system models are developed for Fluor plant and also simulation tools for human factor study. Fault detection algorithms are developed and tested with simulated data. Further validation will require real operational data.
Exploitation Route Work with industrial partners: we have regular meeting with industrial partners every 3 months. We are exploring new applications for 6S technologies and getting real operational data to improve our prediction.
Our academic network is growing. We have developed collaborations with numerous universities and research institutes in China to explore 6S technology at different applications such as precision agriculture for fish and insect farming, carbon zero/negative manufacturing processes etc.
We also explore 6S for digital health with a proposal submitted for UKRI call Understanding and Addressing Health and Social Challenges for Ageing in the UK and China to use digital technology to monitor the health and behaviour of ageing population in partnership with tourist industry and local community.
Sectors Chemicals,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description This project is highly multi-disciplinary by bringing together research expertise in process system engineering, wireless communication network, robotic and autonomous systems and cyber security. The 6th Sense (6S) technology is driven by a self-management sensor network and will be applicable to many industrial processes. A summary of the key points are: 1. Virtual reality: 6S goes beyond a VR plant, not only offering fully immersed experience on plants, but allowing to control and autonomous operation of the plants by linking the cyber physical plant with the real plant. We have developed the VR platform for education and training. The VR plantform has been used for training the OPCW (Organisation for prohibition of chemical weapon) delegation from 30 countries and summer schools for international students. 2. Whole plant model: our plant simulation integrates production process, data network, robotics and human together to develop a network of the network approach. We are working with industries to identify suitable applications in various sectors such as oil/gas, food, chemicals, energy etc. We are explore the whole plant models with different industrial sectors such as power, water, food and agriculture. 3. Robotics: we are integrating robotic platform into industrial plants to achieve enhanced or autonomous operations. We are actively seeking collaborations with robotic companies to enable machine-assisted operations. 4. Human factors: we are developing methods to collect data from human operators to understand stress, attention and response, which enables us how we sense the environment and how we can work more safely, efficiently and happily. We are developing tools for training, education and operation. We are exploring this research into healthcare sectors in partnership with community centres and tourist industry.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Collaboration with China Agricultural University 
Organisation China Agricultural University (CAU)
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We work with CAU to develop digital technology for fish farming.
Collaborator Contribution CAU provides a number of PhD students.
Impact We explore our 6th sense technology to digital fish farming to monitor, control and optimise the fish farming using sensor network, autonomous system and big data analytics. The digital platform is being developed in partnership with fish farmers.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with Monkfield on insect farming 
Organisation Monkfield Nutrition
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We provide digital solutions to Monkfield to monitor insect growth and optimise the resources required in term of feed, energy, etc.
Collaborator Contribution Monkfield provides the insect farming site and data from their production.
Impact The collaboration leads to a large proposal submitted to Innovate UK Future Food Production call to build the largest insect farming facilities in Europe.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with Nanjing Tech University 
Organisation Nanjing Tech University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will work with Nanjing Tech University to develop digital solutions to improve safety of industrial processes.
Collaborator Contribution Nanjing Tech University agreed to sponsor a number of PhD studentships for 6th sense related research.
Impact PhD research projects have been agreed on hydrogen safety modelling and detection, thermal runway for battery, modelling and optimisation of high pressure gas atomisation, etc.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Organised ABCP (Association of British Chinese Professors) annual conference, 10-12 July 2019 at University of Surrey 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The annual conference has over 200 attendants from the UK and China, covering a wide range of research topics. I chair a session on digital innovation for manufacturing with academic and industrial participants. The event is well received with companies offering to organise similar events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participation in INDUSTRY 4.0 ACADEMIA SUMMIT on 10 - 11 April 2019 at Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The event has over 100 participants from academic and industry. We give a presentation on VR for education in chemical engineering.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participation in 26th Annual SCI-CSCST Conference, London, 4 September - 5 September 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This workshop is organised by the Chinese Society of Chemical Science and Technology in the UK with about 80 participants from the UK universities. We give a presentation on Digital Innovation for Fault Diagnosis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participation in ECCE12&ECAB5, Florence, Italy, 15-19, September 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This conference is organised by the Italian Association of Chemical Engineering with over 200 participants. We have a poster presentation on 6S technology. There are significant interest in our research from academic and industrial participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participation in The 28th European Symposium on Computer-Aided Process Engineering (ESCAPE) , Graz, Austria, 10-13 June 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A major annual conference in Computer-Aided Process Engineering with over 200 participants from chemical engineering departments in many European countries. We gave a talk on "Towards the cooperative-based control of chemical plants".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL https://www.tugraz.at/events/escape28/home/
 
Description Participation on Connected Everything Conference 2018, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 26-27 June 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A conference organized by EPSRC network plus grant holder on Connected Everything with over 100 participants. We gave a presentation on Digitalisation of manufacturing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://connectedeverything.ac.uk/events/conference-2018/
 
Description Participation on Emerson Global Users Exchange Europe, Middle East, Africa, The Hague, The Netherlands, 7-9 March 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A big IOTs technology shown by Emerson with all the major industrial players. We participated the 3-day events with good discussions with many companies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Plenary talk at Bolton Technology Digital Transformation Forum on 20 December 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This event is organised by Bolton with about 400 audience. I give a plenary presentation about Industrial 6th Sense Technology and its impact for industry. The talk is well received. Companies expressed strong interests for this technology. We are in discussion with some of the companies for follow-up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019