Explicit Representation of Mechanical Functions for Maintenance Decision Support

Mengchu Song*, Ilmar F. Santos, Xinxin Zhang, Jing Wu, Morten Lind

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been increasingly applied to condition-based maintenance (CBM), a knowledge-based method taking advantage of human expertise and other system knowledge that can serve as an alternative in cases in which machine learning is inapplicable due to a lack of training data. Functional information is seen as the most fundamental and important knowledge in maintenance decision making. This paper first proposes a mechanical functional modeling approach based on a functional modeling and reasoning methodology called multilevel flow modeling (MFM). The approach actually bridges the modeling gap between the mechanical level and the process level, which potentially extends the existing capability of MFM in rule-based diagnostics and prognostics from operation support to maintenance support. Based on this extension, a framework of optimized CBM is proposed, which can be used to diagnose potential mechanical failures from condition monitoring data and predict their future impacts in a qualitative way. More importantly, the framework uses MFM-based reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) to determine the importance of a detected potential failure, which can ensure the cost-effectiveness of CBM by adapting the maintenance requirements to specific operational contexts. This ability cannot be offered by existing CBM methods. An application to a mechanical test apparatus and hypothetical coupling with a process plant are used to demonstrate the proposed framework.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4267
Issue number20
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Condition-based maintenance
  • Diagnostics
  • Functional modeling
  • Functional reasoning
  • Mechanical functions
  • Prognostics
  • Reliability-centered maintenance


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