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Mechanical Systems
and
Signal Processing
Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 20 (2006) 11891201
www.elsevier.com/locate/jnlabr/ymssp

Mechanical systems hazard estimation using


condition monitoring
Yong Suna,, Lin Maa, Joseph Mathewa, Wenyi Wangb, Sheng Zhanga
a
CRC for Integrated Engineering Asset Management, School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Medical Engineering,
QUT, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia
b
Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Melbourne, Vic 3001, Australia

Received 11 August 2004; received in revised form 12 October 2004; accepted 20 October 2004
Available online 8 December 2004

Abstract

The ability to predict hazards of mechanical systems accurately can signicantly enhance the predictive
maintenance task. However, predicting hazards of systems accurately is non-trivial, especially when
historical failure data are sparse or zero. The proposed proportional covariate model (PCM) overcomes this
difculty. This paper describes the concepts of PCM briey and focuses on the estimation of the hazards of
mechanical systems using accelerated life tests and condition monitoring data. This new approach to
hazard estimation can reduce the number of accelerated life tests signicantly. The hazard estimation can
further be rened and updated with on-line condition monitoring data on a continual basis.
r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Hazard prediction; Condition monitoring; Accelerated life tests; Proportional covariate model; Proportional
hazard model

1. Introduction

Accurate estimation and prediction of the hazards of mechanical systems are critical to the
predictive maintenance activities. Predictive maintenance plays a very important role in increasing
Corresponding author. School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Medical Engineering, Queensland University of
Technology, 2 George Street, G.P.O. Box 2434, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia. Tel.: +61 7 3864 5103; fax:
+61 7 3864 1469.
E-mail address: y3.sun@qut.edu.au (Y. Sun).

0888-3270/$ - see front matter r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ymssp.2004.10.009
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maintenance effectiveness and reducing maintenance costs and hence has attracted the attention
of researchers in recent times [15]. Several predictive maintenance strategies/methodologies have
been developed, among which the reliability centred maintenance (RCM) and condition based
maintenance (CBM) are most commonly used [4,6,7]. Regardless of what type of predictive
maintenance strategy is used, the prediction of future failure modes, time and its trend is a basic
requirement.
Failure prediction of mechanical systems can be conducted in two ways: fault diagnosis from
condition monitoring signals and statistical analysis of historical failure data. Most existing
statistical models require sufcient historical operational data and mature statistical techniques to
be effective. However, ideal industrial historical failure data are generally not available.
Accelerated life tests are often conducted to collect failure data which are sufcient for the
estimation of the hazard functions or reliability functions of machines or its mechanical
components. Accelerated life tests are time consuming and costly. There is considerable merit in
reducing the number of accelerated life tests. Effective methods need to be developed to enable
hazard estimation and prediction when historical failure data are sparse or even zero. On the
other hand, condition monitoring and fault diagnosis techniques are being increasingly applied to
failure prediction of mechanical systems. However, these condition monitoring and fault
diagnosis techniques while being researched, mainly focus on feature extraction and defect
detection of mechanical systems using different signal processing techniques. These condition
monitoring and fault diagnosis techniques still fall short of providing overall accurate diagnosis
and remaining life estimation. Besides, prognosis based on condition monitoring and fault
diagnosis techniques are often conducted using dynamical analysis or failure mechanism theory
(such as crack growth theory and fatigue failure theory) which are too specic for the range of
applications today [8]. A more effective strategy would be to develop proper theoretical prediction
models with a combination of failure data and condition monitoring data.
Condition monitoring data are commonly termed as covariates in reliability theory and can be
classied into two categories:

(1) Environmental covariates Ze t: The changes of these covariates will cause the characteristics
of the hazard of a system to change. Working load is an example of an environment covariate.
(2) Response covariates Z r t: The changes of these covariates are caused by the changes of
hazard of a system. The majority of condition monitoring data can be classed as response
covariates and are symptoms that reect the deterioration of a system.
The proportional hazard model (PHM) has been developed for predicting the hazard of a
system with a combination of historical failure data and on-line condition monitoring data. It was
introduced by Cox and was initially developed to assess the effects of environmental covariates on
the hazard of a system. The hazard rate at time t, ht; of an item is modelled as a product of the
baseline hazard function h0(t) and a covariate function cZ e t; g as follows [9]:
ht h0 tcZe t; g: (1)
The covariate function cZ e t; g is dependent on different factors that affect the hazard rate of
an item. The baseline hazard rate h0(t) is the hazard rate of a system without the inuence of
covariates. The parameters of the covariate function are commonly estimated using the maximum
likelihood method.
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Y. Sun et al. / Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 20 (2006) 11891201 1191

PHM has been used in various applications [913]. Ebeling [13] presented two case studies. One
of these was to analyse how a load placed on a motor will affect its design life for a particular
reliability level. In this case study, the load placed on the motor is an environmental covariate.
PHM needs sufcient failure data to estimate the baseline hazard function h0(t) and the weight
parameters for each covariate. This shortcoming limits the effectiveness of PHM signicantly
when historical failure data are insufcient. Furthermore, PHM represented by Eq. (1) indicates
that the hazard of a system will change when its covariates change, i.e., covariates are explanatory
variables and hazard is the response variable in PHM. However, in practice, response covariates
are often monitored and recorded to determine the deterioration of a system. In this situation,
covariates (condition monitoring data) are response variables and the hazard becomes the
explanatory variable. PHM is not perfectly suitable for modelling this scenario as statisticians
Moore and McCabe [14] have demonstrated. They showed that the regression results will be
different if the explanatory variable and response variables are interchanged. In order to predict
the hazard of a mechanical system using response covariates, the authors propose a proportional
covariates model (PCM). The hazard of a system when historical failure data are zero can be
estimated and predicted by a combination of PCM and accelerated life tests. The number of
accelerated life tests can also be signicantly reduced by applying PCM when the data from these
accelerated life tests are used for estimating the hazard function of a mechanical system. This
paper addresses these two issues.
The rest of the paper is organised as follows. The concepts and methodologies of PCM are
described briey in Section 2. The experiments used to validate the assumption for PCM is
presented in Section 3. This is followed by a case study which demonstrates the applications of
PCM in hazard estimation and reliability analysis of a mechanical system in Section 4.
Conclusions are presented in Section 5.

2. Proportional covariate model (PCM)

PCM assumes that covariates of a system, or a function of these covariates, are proportional to
the hazard of the systeman assumption that has been supported by empirical evidence [9] and
has also been validated by experiments conducted by the authors (see Section 3).
A common understanding of mechanical systems integrity is that increased deterioration more
often than not increases the likelihood of failure [15,16]. Accurate condition monitoring data
(covariates) of a system should reect the degree of the deterioration of the system [17,18].
Therefore it is reasonable to assume that a covariate of a mechanical system is a continuous and
monotonous function of the failure rate (hazard) of the system. The mathematical relationship
between these covariates and system hazard can be modelled in different ways, such as a linear
function. As a result, the assumption that covariates or their transformed variables, of a system
are proportional to the hazard of the system, is justied.
This same assumption has been used by Cox [19] while developing the proportional hazard
model (PHM). Over last 30 years, PHM has found numerous applications using realistic cases and
data. In particular, this assumption has been used to study mechanical systems [10,13,20,21].
Barbera et al. [22] developed a condition based maintenance model for repairing equipment based
on the same assumption that the hazard of equipment is a linear function of the condition of the
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equipment. Heyns and Smit [18] demonstrated that the measurement of the natural frequency
shift of a fan had a linear relationship with the damage level of the fan throughout his
experiments.
In PCM, a function of covariates CZr t is expressed as follows:
CZ r t Ctht; (2)
where Zr(t) is the covariate function which is usually time dependent. The variable C(t) is the
baseline covariate function which is also usually time dependent. The function h(t) is the hazard
function of a system. The PCM represented by Eq. (2) indicates that the covariates of a system
changes when the hazard of this system changes, i.e., the covariates are response variables and the
hazard is an explanatory variable in PCM.
The construction of a suitable function of covariates CZ r t plays an important role in
improving the accuracy of hazard estimation, especially when using multiple covariates. For
simplication, this paper considers a rst order scenario where a single covariate is used, and
CZ r t Z r t: (3)
The PCM for this case is given by substituting Eq. (3) into Eq. (2),
Zr t Ctht: (4)
PCM is different from PHM in the following aspects:
1. PCM predicts the hazard of a system using the covariates caused by the deterioration of a
system and is therefore more suitable for situations where symptoms of a system are monitored.
On the other hand, PHM predicts the hazard of a system using covariates that affect the hazard
of a system and is more suitable for situations where environmental conditions are monitored.
These environmental conditions will cause the failure rate of a system to change.
2. In PHM, a baseline hazard rate h0(t) is used to describe the relationship between covariates and
hazard, whereas in PCM, a baseline covariate function C(t) is employed to describe the
relationship between the covariates and the hazard. The baseline hazard rate h0(t) is the hazard
rate without inuence of covariates. The baseline covariate function C(t) represents the rate of
change of covariates when the hazard changes.

The relationship (or difference) between PCM and PHM can be described by Fig. 1.
Compared with PHM, PCM has several advantages. The estimated hazards of a system based
on different historical covariate data are all the same in PCM. In PHM, these hazards may vary
[23]. PCM is used to update the hazard function of a system. The changes of this hazard function
are independent of the covariate and hence the updated hazard function can be used to predict
preventive time. In PHM, on the other hand, the hazard is estimated from on-line condition data
and hence can only be used to trigger an alarm when the hazard of a system reaches its predened
critical level. Furthermore, PCM can work when failure data are zero because the baseline
covariate functions can be estimated according to experience or other ancillary information such
as data from accelerated life tests. PHM is not applicable in this situation because the baseline
hazard function h0(t) in PHM is largely dependent on historical failure data. In PCM, the baseline
covariate function C(t) is dependent on both historical failure data and historical condition
monitoring data and can be updated according to newly observed failure data and covariates.
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The changes of the characteristics of the hazard


of a system cause changes of the symptom PCM+PHM
PCM indicators (response covariates) of the system.
Z r (t ) = C (t )h(t )
Z r 0 (t ) = C (t )h0 (t )
= C (t )h0 (t ) ( Z e (t ))

The changes of the hazard of a system cause


the changes of the symptom indicators
(response covariates) of the system.

The changes in environmental covariates


cause changes in the characteristics of the
hazard of a system.

h0 (t ) h(t ) = h0 (t ) ( Z e (t ))

Under standard conditions, PHM


without influence of
environmental covariates

Fig. 1. The relationship between PCM and PHM.

Estimating the baseline covariate function C(t) is a critical activity in PCM and can be
conducted using the following two approaches:

1. The baseline covariate function C(t) is typically estimated from historical failure data and
covariates. Initially, a set of discrete baseline covariate function values can be generated:
Zti
Cti i 1; 2; . . . ; mf ; (5)
hin ti
is the number of failure data and int is the initial hazard functionof a mechanical system
estimated using historical failure data. Subsequently, the baseline covariate function can be
obtained using the discrete data set Cti i 1; 2; . . . ; mf :
2. In the case of sparse or even zero historical data, the baseline covariate function C(t) can also
be determined according to anecdotal experience of operators of plant and/or using
supplementary information such as data from accelerated life tests. Hence for this case, the
hazard functions of mechanical systems can still be estimated using PCM.
This paper focuses on the second approach.
After the baseline covariate function C(t) is determined, the hazard rate of a system can be
estimated and updated using online condition monitoring data that act as covariates Z r t by the
following formula:

~ Zr t :
ht (6)
Ct
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~ are generally estimated using the regression technique and the maximum
Functions C(t) and ht
likelihood method.
Failures of mechanical components generally have the following features:
(1) A mechanical component has several failure modes. The failure of a mechanical component
with a specic failure mode is usually dened as inability to perform its predened function
satisfactorily due to this failure occurring. However, the demarcation line between failure and
non-failure is often unclear. Unlike normal failures in electrical components, the failure of a
mechanical component usually occurs more gradually rather than be a sudden occurrence.
(2) When a mechanical component fails, it can continue to operate often resulting in this failed
component affecting other components in due course.
(3) Failure of a mechanical component usually will not cause its related mechanical components
to fail immediately but can accelerate their failure rates.

These features enable the quantication of hazard rates of mechanical components using
deterioration indicators such as the increment of crack depth, the degree of misalignment and the
degree of deformation, and allow the estimation of baseline covariate functions of mechanical
components using deterioration data during accelerated life tests instead of failure data. A case
study will be presented in Section 4. Before conducting the case study, the reasonableness of the
assumption for PCM is rst examined.

3. Verication of PCM assumption

PCM has been developed on the assumption that the covariates of a mechanical system are
proportional to the hazard of the system and this assumption was veried by the following
experiment.
A shaft with a wheel was supported by two ball bearings (left bearing and right bearing) (see
Fig. 2). The shaft was driven by a motor through a pair of exible couplings. The left bearing
housing moved in two opposite directions to simulate different degrees of angular misalignment of
the shaft. The movement of the bearing housing was controlled by a screw.
The angular misalignment of the shaft simulated a failure mode (failure mode 1) of the test rig.
During shaft rotation, the misaligned shaft caused the bearings to vibrate. The vibration
acceleration of the right bearing was measured by a data acquisition system shown in Fig. 3.
Initially, it was anticipated that the average acceleration amplitude of the vibration of the test
bearing would be sensitive to the changes in the angular misalignment of the shafta fact that was
veried from the experimentation. Therefore, the average acceleration amplitude of the vibration of
the test bearing was used as a covariate to indicate the degrees of angular misalignment. This
covariate was measured and calculated against the different degrees of angular misalignment of the
shaft. The result shown in Fig. 4 was obtained under the following conditions:
1. During the experiments, the speed of the shaft was 960 rpm. The operation load was 0.89 kW.
Both bearings were in healthy condition. An accelerometer was mounted on the right bearing
housing to detect the vibration signal of the bearing. The vibration of the test bearing was
measured against different degrees of angular misalignment of the shaft in two opposite
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Fig. 2. The test rig.

PCB
1 482A20 ICP
Motor signal
Left Right
conditioner
bearing Shaft bearing

Daq 308
1. ENDEVCO 256HX-10 Laptop with Daq KROHN-
Data
piezoelectric accelerometer EZ Professional HITE 3202
collector
2. Left and right bearing: Deep Program Filter
groove ball bearing 6204

Fig. 3. Diagram of the test rig and data acquisition system.

0.14
0.12
trendline
0.1
Aav (g/800)

0.08
0.06
0.04
0.02
0
0 0.5 1 1.5
h (t)

Fig. 4. The relationship between the hazard h(t) of the shaft and the average vibration amplitude Aav.

directions to check if the test results were sensitive to the directions of the misalignments of the
shaft. The sampling frequency for data acquisition was 10 kHz. In each test, 20,000 samples of
data were collected. The reliability of the shaft was dened at 0.7 with an angular misalignment
1
of 760 rad:
2. For failure mode 1 the assumption that the hazard rate of the shaft is proportional to the
degree of angular misalignment is justied. It is clear that the shaft will fail to function (rotate)
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properly when its angular misalignment reaches a threshold. Hence, the failure of the test rig
with failure mode 1 was dened as that occurring when the shaft operated abnormally
due to the angular misalignment. The greater the angular misalignment, the more likely the
shaft operated abnormally. The assumption that the hazard rates of mechanical components
are proportional to their degrees of deterioration is also supported by other experiments
(refer to Fig. 9).
Fig. 4 clearly indicates that the covariate, i.e., the average vibration amplitude Aav, was
proportional to the hazard of the shaft. In this experiment, the baseline covariate function, C(t)
can be treated as time-independent because of the straight trendline.
Ct 0:065 g=800 (7)
However, in many scenarios, the baseline covariate functions are time dependent.

4. Hazard estimation and reliability analysis

As mentioned in Section 2, PCM is able to predict the hazards of mechanical systems using
condition monitoring data when historical failure data are sparse or even zero. To demonstrate
this, a case study was conducted using acceleration life test data on a single stage spur gearbox.
Table 1 shows the experimental data for operating hours, increments of the crack depth of the test
gear and the kurtosis of the residual signal.
A residual signal is obtained from the signal average by ltering out gear meshing harmonics
(i.e, using a multi band-stop lter). It represents random transmission errors for healthy gears.
For faulty gears, the transmission errors will include a sudden change (e.g. a spike) which
becomes non-Gaussian. Kurtosis is a good measure of non-Gaussianity (e.g. spikiness) in a signal.
Tooth cracking and tooth pitting type of faults can be distinguished using the residual signal
methods [24].
In this experiment, each test gear was 10 mm wide and had 27 teeth. Its rated load was 24.5 kW
at a shaft speed of 2400 rpm, but the gears were overloaded during the tests to accelerate the
onset of failure. In addition, each gear was initially spark eroded with a semi-circle notch of 1 mm
radius at the root llet of a tooth, across the middle of the tooth width. The vibration of the test
gearbox was continuously monitored and recorded. The kurtosis of the residual signal of gear
meshing vibration signal was trended and used as a local fault indicator for gear fault diagnosis.
In this paper, these test data were used to estimate the trend of the hazard of the test gears, and the
hazard functions of the gears. In this case study, the covariate was selected as the kurtosis of the
residual signal (the second row in Table 1). Previous research [24,25] has revealed that the kurtosis

Table 1
The test gearbox data

Operating hours 0.0917 3.3383 3.7536 4.6383 5.5064 5.6864


Kurtosis of the residual signal 2.2933 2.6934 3.6728 3.5146 3.2240 4.7228
Increments of crack depth (mm) 0 1.57 1.73 2.11 2.81 3.16
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of the residual signal has a good co-relationship with the crack of the test gear. The baseline
covariate function was estimated using the following two assumptions:
(1) The hazard rate of the test gear is proportional to its crack depth after initiationa reasonable
assumption because a gear with a deeper crack is likely to breakdown earlier. The assumption
was further supported by correlation analysis between the increments of the crack depth of the
test gear and its failure rate (see Fig. 9).
(2) The time to failure of the test gear is a Weibull distribution. This assumption holds because the
test gearbox is a typical mechanical system and the test was conducted to simulate the wear-
out stage (crack propagation).
Using the above two assumptions and Eq. (5), the baseline covariate function C(t) was
estimated. In this case, the baseline covariate function C(t) contained the unknown proportional
scale which represents the relationship between the hazard rate of the test gear and the increments
of its crack depth. A preliminary analysis of the discrete data set Cti i 1; 2; . . . ; 6 indicated
that the baseline covariate function can be described in the form, atb. The parameters a and b were
estimated using the regression technique. After the baseline covariate function was determined,
the hazard function h(t) of the test gear was estimated using Eq. (6) and the kurtosis of the
residual signal obtained from the condition monitoring data. Figs. 5 and 6 show the results of the
PCM based hazard estimation using online condition monitoring data during 4.5 and 5.7 h
respectively.
The shaft load was not constant during the test (Fig. 7). The changes of working load affected
the vibration signals and gear life. These changes can be reected in PCM because of the
integration of condition monitoring data in the model.
The estimated hazard function using on-line condition monitoring data during 5.7 h was
ht 0:0403t2:5591 : (8)

Fig. 5. Hazard curves of the test gears during 4.5 h of condition monitoring.
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Fig. 6. Hazard curves of the test gears during 5.7 h of condition monitoring.

200
180
160
140
Overload (%)

120
100
80
60
40
20
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Time (hrs)

Fig. 7. Loading conditions of the test gears.

The original failure data were extracted from historical experimental data based on the values of
predened local fault indicators. According to the experiments, a gear was not considered to
operate normally when its local fault indicator was equal to or exceeded a specied value (in
this example, 3.5). In this paper we regarded the gear as failed if its local fault indicator was
greater than or equal to 3.5. In addition, only those failure times whose intervals were longer than
0.07 h were taken into account since the original test data were not recorded in equal time
intervals. The original failure rate of the test gears was estimated from the original failure data.
The original hazard rate is also shown in Figs. 5 and 6 and was compared with the estimated
results using PCM.
Fig. 8 presents a reliability probability distribution of the test gear based on the hazard
estimation shown in Fig. 6. The gure reveals that the reliability of the test gear would be lower
than 1% after 512 h of overloaded operating time. In reality, this low reliability indicated that test
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Fig. 8. Reliability diagram of the test gears.

Fig. 9. The relationship between the increment of crack depth and hazard.

gear would certainly operate abnormally after 512 h of overloaded operating time. The test results
conrmed the estimation.
From Figs. 5 and 6, it can be seen that the hazard estimation based on PCM is relatively
accurate. Figs. 5 and 6 indicate that the hazard estimation using PCM has the same trend with the
original hazard rate. The prediction accuracy increased when more on-line condition monitoring
data were used for hazard estimation. The departure between the estimated hazard line and the
original hazard line was caused by the departure of the real data from the two assumptions used
to estimate the baseline covariate function. A correlation analysis (Fig. 9) indicates that the
hazard rate of the test gear can be treated as proportional to the crack depth after initiation,
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Fig. 10. Weibull tness check.

during most of the test period but not at the start of the test because of the initial spark-eroded
notch. From the Weibull tness analysis (Fig. 10), it can be seen that the distribution of failure
data is not strictly Weibull although the goodness of t is reasonable.

5. Conclusion

The above case study demonstrates that PCM can be used to estimate hazard functions of
mechanical components or systems in cases of sparse or even zero historical failure data provided
the covariates of the components or systems are proportional to the hazard of the components or
systems. The hazard functions of a mechanical component or system can be estimated through a
combination of PCM and accelerated life tests provided that the hazard of the component or
system is proportional to its deterioration. In principle, the reliability function of a mechanical
system can be estimated by a single accelerated life test when PCM is used. Therefore, the number
of accelerated life tests for estimating the reliability of a mechanical system can be signicantly
reduced by a combination of PCM and accelerated life tests.
PCM research is still in its infancy and requires more case studies for its verication. Further
work is continuing using PCM to make reliability predictions when the hazard of a component or
system is not proportional to its deterioration. Yet another research direction could be the
prediction of reliability using PCM based on both historical data (failure data and covariates
data) and on-line condition monitoring data.

Acknowledgement

The authors gratefully acknowledge the effort of Dr. Vladis Kosse of Queensland University of
Technology who designed and built the test rig used in this study.
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