You are on page 1of 7

An intelligent online machine fault diagnosis system

by A. C. M. Fong and S. C. Hui

Traditional help desk service relies heavily on the expertise of service personnel. This article describes an intelligent data mining technique that combines neural network and rule-based reasoning with case-based reasoning to mine information from the customer service database for online machine fault diagnosis. This technique has been implemented into a help-desk system that supports online machine fault diagnosis over the Internet.
ata mining has been developed for people to their customers. A help-desk service centre is usually analyse, understand or even visualise huge established to answer frequently encountered problems amounts of stored data for business and from the customers. Service engineers from the help-desk centre respond to customers inquiries via telephone calls scientific applications. Data mining is the and carry out on-site repair C necessary. At the end of i process of discovering interesting patterns, associations, changes, anomalies and significant structures from large each service, a customer service report is generated to amounts of data stored in databases, data warehouses or record the problem and the remedies taken to rectify the other information repositories. It can be used to help problem. These service reports are then stored as service companies to make better decision to stay competitive in records hi a customer service database. the marketplace. For the past few years, a number of data In a tmditional help-desk scrvice centre, the idcntimining applications and prototypes have been developed fication of machine faults relies heavily on the expertise for a variety of domains including marketing, banking, ol the service support engineers. I1 is often a burden financc, manufacturing and healthcare. In general, the on the company to train and retain a pool of expert service engineers. Since the customer service database data mining technique and function to be applied depend serves as a repository of invaluable information that can very much on the application domain and the nature of be used for machine fault diagnosis, the customer service the data available. In this article, we describe a novel data mining technique iniplemeiited to mine the information stored in the customer service database of a multinational company for machine fault diagnosis in a help-desk application. checkpoint group: AVF-CHK007 Customer service priority checkpoint description help file support is becoming an confirm whether the carry guide pins are in line with PCB 1 AVF-CHK007-1 GIF integral part of many multi2 confirm whether the PCB IS in correct direction AVF-CHK007-2 GIF national manulacturing companies. These comI 3 I Confirm the Position of the quide lower limit sensor (1100165) I AVF CHK007-3.GIF I panies generally have a 4 confirm the timing for PCB 2 detect sensor AVF-CHK007-4.GIF customer service department that Drovides installation, inspection and maintenance support for Fig. 1 Fault-conditionand checkpoint information of a service record



database can be mined to support customer service activities.

Customer service database lt is necessary to reveal the structure of a customer service database before mining it for online help-desk support. Service records are defined and stored in the customer service database to keep track of all reported problems and remedial actions. Each scrvicc record consists of customer account information and sei-vice details: fault condition and checkpoint information, Fault condition contains the service engineers description of a machine iault. Checkpoint information indicates actions taken to rectify the fault. It contains checkpoint group name, and checkpoint description with priority. Fig. 1 shows an example of a fault condition and its checkpoint information for a service record. Data are stored as unstructured text in the machinefault and checkpoint tables. There are over 70 000 service

records in the customer service database with over 50000 checkpoints. In addition. structured data on over 4000 employees, 500 customers, 300 different machiuc modcls and 10 000 sales transactions are also stored. The new technique has been developed specifically for mining the unstructured fault-conditions and checkpoints data for machine fault diagnosis.

Survey of fault diagnosis techniques Case-based reasoning (CBR) has been successfully applied to fault diagnosis for customer service support. CBR systems rely on building a large repository of past service records in order to circumvent the difficult task of exh-acting and encoding expert domain knowledge. It is one of the most appropriate techniques for machine fault diagnosis as it learns with experience in solving problems and hence emulates human-like intelligence. Howcver, the performance of CER systems depends on the adequacy as well as thc orgaiiisation of cases and the


algorithms uscd for retrieval from a large case database. Most CBK systems use the nearest neighbour algorithm for retrieval service from the flat-indexed case database. which is inefficient especially for large case datahase. Other CBR systems use hierarchical indexing such as decision trees." However, building a hierarchical index needs the knowledge of an expert during the case-authoring phase. The neural network (NN) approachd provides an efficient learning capability from detailed examples. The search space in a neural network is greatly reduced because of the generalisation of ....... , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... . . . . . , _ . ........ knowledge through training. In contrast, neural network model generation rule base generation CBR systems need to store all the cases in the case database in order to perform accurate retrieval. This greatly increases ig. 3 Knowledge extraction process the search space. The CBK systems that store only relevant cases for an efficient retrieval lack the faults reported before froin the knowledge base. and accuracy as well as the learning feature of the NNs. retrieves the corresponding checkpoint solutions for the user to try to resolve the problem. The user's feedback on Hence, neural networks are well suited to case indexing and retrieval. the fault diagnosis process is used to revise the problem Other data mining techniques, like rule-based and its solution. The revised infurmation is retained as reasoning (RBR) approach, fuzzy logic, genetic knowledge for enhancing its performance in future diagnosis. algorithms, decision trees, inductive learning systems and statistical pattern classification systems5have been investigated. In addition, hybrid approaches such as Knowledge extmctim p~occss hybrid case-based reasoning and neural networksc' Fig. 3 shows the knowledge extraction process for have also been proposed. In this article, a data mining extracting expert knowledge from the unstructured textual data of the Pault conditions and checkpoints in the technique that integrates case-based reasoning. neural network and rule-based reasoning is proposed and customer service database. There are two major steps in developed to mine the unstructured textual data of faullthe knowledge extraction process: neural network modcl conditions and checkpoints of service records from the generation and rule-base generation. customer service database for machine fault diagnosis. In the first step, it extracts knowledge from the fault

Intelligent data mining for machine fault diagnosis Fig. 2 shows a framework for the intelligent data mining process comprising the offline knowledge extraction process and the online fault diagnosis process. The knowledge extraction process extracts knowledge from the customer service database to form a knowledge base that contains the neural network models and a rule-base. The neural network models and the rule-base work within the CBR cycle to support the online fault diagnosis process. The fault diagnosis process uses the four stages of the CBR cycle: retrieve, reuse, revise and retain, to diagnose customer-reported problems. It accepts the user's problem description as input, maps the description into the closest fault conditions of the Fig. 4 Reuse of checkpoint solutions


conditions to train the neural network to build neural network models for classiiication and clustering. Fault conditions in the customer service database are first preprocessed to extract keywords. The pre-processing process is implemented using word list, stop list and algorithms from W ~ r d n e tThe extracted keywords are .~ used to form weight vectors to initialise the neural network. Then, the neural network is trained to generate the neural network model. Two types of neural networks are investigated.They are the supervised learning vector quantisation (LVQ3) neural network and the unsupervised Kohonen self-organising map (KSOM) neural network. LVQS and KSOM are used as classificationand clustering techniques, respectively, for intelligent fault diagnosis.The classificationtechnique is used to classify an instance of a new auk description into one of the known classes of faults and then uses the suggested solution of the known fault for the current problem. The clustering technique is used to extract information froni the customer service database to form clusters of similar faults and then classify a new problem instance into one of the clusters. The classification into a specific fault condition can be determined based on the closest match of the fault condition with the input pattern within the cluster. The clustering technique generally has better efficiency but lower accuracy, as compared to the classification approach. The second step involves the extraction of knowledge from the checkpoint solutions of the fault conditions to

generate a rule-base to guide the reuse of checkpoint solution effectively. The rule-base consists of control rules and checkpoint rules. Control rules are coded manually to specify the diagnostic procedure for the firing of checkpoint rules so that the checkpoints can be exercised in sequence according to their priorities. Using these two types of rules, the rule-based inference engine under the C Language Integrated Production System (CLIPS)environment8 can provide a step-by-step guidance to the user in diagnosing a fault condition.

Fault diagaosis firocess The fault diagnosis process consists of the following phases: pre-processing of user input. neural network retrieval, reuse of service records, and revise and retain with user feedback. In the first phase, the user's textual inputs are prc-processed again using Wordnet. In fact, the implementation is very similar to the pre-processing of lault conditions during the knowledge extraction process. In the neural network retrieval phase, similar fault conditions cxperieiiced in the past are recalled and ranked according to the closeness of the retrieved fault condition to the user input fault description.The neural network performs retrieval by computing the winner through a competitive learning process. The winner is the one that corresponds to the weight vector with minimum distance from the input vector. For the supervised LVQ3 neural network, the winner node corresponds to a fault

Fig. 5 Revise and retain with user feedback



online helpdesk application

service engineer

web browsers

Fig. 6 Web-based help-desk system for machine fault diagnosis

condition with known checkpoint solution. In the case of an unsupervised KSOM neural network, the winner node represents a cluster. The retrieval of a specific fault condition is based on the nearest Euclidean distance of all the fault conditions in the retrieved cluster. In the third phase, checkpoint solutions of the fault conditions retrieved during the retrieval process are reused. The checkpoints are presented in the order according to the checkpoint rules fired as shown in Fig. 4. The rules operate in a competitive manner to display the checkpoints in the order of their priority in solving the fault condition. In the last phase, the neural network indexing database, the checkpoint rules and the service records in the customer service database are updated based on user feedback on the effectiveness of the fault diagnosis process. The input problem description and its past checkpoint solutions arc revised through user feedback and updated into the relevant databases. As shown in Fig. 5, the user piovides leedback on whether the problem is resolved or not. If the problcni is resolved, then the neural network indexing database and the checkpoint rule-base are updated. If the problem persists after trying all the checkpoints for all the retrieved fault conditions, the user can seek help from a service engineer by filing a service request form through the Web. The engineer will subsequently update the customer service database through a

maintenance programme.

Online help-desk application Fig. 6 shows the Web-based help-desk system that uses the iiitelligeiit data mining technique Tor online fault diagnosis. The customers can access the application using any of the commonlp used IVeh browsers, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Fig. 7 shows the Web-based interface for accepting user input of a fault description. First, the user can enter an error code or the name of an error if available. A list of error codes and their corresponding fault conditions are maintained for cfficiciit rctricval. If the error code is known, then no other information is required froin the user for lurther processing. The corresponding fault condition can be identified and its checkpoints can he retrieved Otherwise, the fault description can be eutered in natural language or as a set of keywords. 'The user can also provide thc naincs of niachinc components and their states as input as shown in Fig. 7. If the user input contains keywords that are not in the keyword list, synonyms of these keywords will be retrieved for user confirmatioii as input keywords. This information is then combined to form an input vector during the retrieval process. Fig. 8 show? the fault-conditions retrieved by the LVQ3 neural network when the user enters a fault description. The fault conditions displayed at the top of the screen


customer service database. Once all modifications are completed, the neural network indexing database and checkpoint rules are modified using the 'update neural networli' and 'update rule-base' buttons.

Performance analysis Ketrieval performance in terms of efficiency and accuracy of the LVQ3 neural nctwork for classification and the KSOM neural network for clustering is compared.

r iy. o n c u i c v a it'auica uaacu uii

Lhe snecif ied user inmt

~ P L ' B ~ ~ V ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ TESF+SF%KEEDEI~R Y~ L ' B U ~ ~~ ~ O ~ ~ P ~ ~ Y O ~ ~ ~
ATTHEWEECTICWPaSnM O F B L S l l t ^ l B t T I O N I 2

conditions and checkpoints



correspond to the ones closest to thc fault description provided by the user. The17 are ranked according to their matching scores. If the problems of the customer cannot be resolved through the Web-based help-desk system, a help request form can be filled in by the customers to document their problems. The completed form will be processed and a service engineer will be assigned to handle the problem accordingly Service engineers can in turn interact with the maintenance programme to update service records. As shown in Fig. 9, the maintenance programme allows service engineers to modify service records in the

These two neural networks are also compared with the k Nearest Neighbour (kNN) technique used in the traditional CBR systems for retrieval A traditional CKK system using the kNN technique needs to store all the cases in the case base in order to pci-form accurate retrieval. The use of neural networks with CBR grcatly reduces the search space due to generalisation of knowledge through training. All experiments were carried out on a 333MHz Pentium I1 system with 128MB RAM running uiider the Windows NT operating system. The number of fault conditions (the unique set) in the customer service database was 9392 and the total number of fault conditions (the training set) was 70 137. There were 2173 entries in the keyword list. The number of words to be searched in the Wordnet dictionary was 121 962 and a maximum of 20 keywords was allowed in a fault condition or user input. In each experiment, the time required for pre-processing of fault conditions was found to be 10 minutes 38 seconds. Table 1 summarises the performance comparison between the neural


Table 1 Performance comparison between neural networks and kNNs networks and kNNs. Although the trailling time for each neural netvzorli 15 quite high, it is still acceptable as tlie training is carried out onlv once offline. In addition. the 16.7 77.6 average online retrieval time for each LVQ3 96m 44s 1.9 93.2 KSOM 264m 35s 0.8 90.3 nenral network is Quite efticient. The KSOM neur;il network requires a longer Conclusion training time but it performs more efficiently online This article has described a data mining technique that compared to the LVQ3 neural network. has been implemented to mine data stored in a customer Retrieval accuracy generally depends on the accuracy service database to perform online machine fault diagof pre-processing, the frequency of new keywords being nosis in a help-desk application used by a multinational added, the nnmber of incorrect winners computed by the company. The approach incorporates neural network neural network and the degree of accuracy of the user input. In supervised neural networks such as LVQS, the and rule-based reasoning within the framework of a case-based reasoning cycle. NN extracts knowledge from retrieval accuracy can be determined by measuring the sei-vice records of the customer service database and number oi times thc correct fault conditions generated by subsequently recalls the most appropriate service records the neural network and the number of iterations required. based on the user's fault description during the rctrieval In the unsupervised KSOM neural network, the retrieval phase. RBR is then used to reuse the checkpoint solutions accuracy can be determined based on tlie closest matched fault condition of the retrieved cluster. If the user input from the retricved service rccords and guide Lhc customer consists of many new keywords that are not part of the through a step-by-step approach to help diagnose the machine fault in the most effective manner. keyword list, the accuracy will be affected. However, a The machine problem and its checkpoint solution neural network learns to improve its accuracy in time. are revised with user feedback. 'The revised information The learning rate is another important factor in is then retained by updating the relevant databases. deterniiiiing the number of iterations required for l'erforniance evaluation has been carried out which has convergence. In particular, the convergence was found to shown that tlie proposed data mining approach be fastcst with a learning rate of 04 in lXQ3 neural outpcrforms the traditional kUN technique of CBR network and 0.5 in the KSOM neural network. At liijiher systems in both accuracy and efficiency of retrieval. Ease learning rates, the system became unstable (i.e. no of use, fast and accurate retrieval are among the positive convei-gencc is achieved). whereas lor lower learning comments often cited by end users of the il%b-based fault ratcs, the nuniber of iterations needed to converge was diagnosis system. quite high. The retrieval performance of the LYQ3 neural network References for classification and KSOM neural network for cluster1 I%I1ACtIMAN.K.J.: 'Vliniiig biisiiiess ilatabasrs'. Co,ninuiricn(ioris ij i' ing was also compared with the liNN techniclue used in tirc A C N , 1996,39. (11).pp. 12--lH the traditional CBR systems. T\yo popular variations of liKN techniques were chosen for comparison. The first variation, denoted as kNN1, stores cases in a flat memory 1. pp. 81.106 structurc, extracts keywords from tlie textual descriptions and uses normalised Euclidean distance for matching. It always assigns equal weights to the individual atti-ibutcs (i.e. keywords);).Therefrx-e, retrieval is less accurate. The second variation, known as kNN2, uses the fuzzy-trigrani technique for matching. It assigns based reasriiiing in a hybi-id a positive score for every scquciice of three letters matched. Although this technique may be useful to check spclling errors and grammatical variations, retrieval is MIT Prcss. 19YR) 8 ]ohiison Space Cnitrr's homepagr: CLIPS (C 1,angu;ige 1iitrgr:itrd quite inaccurate when compared \+-iththe neural network Production System), 2001. Online document availablt. at URL techniques. Moreover, the major drawback in both of ~c.nasa.jiovi-clips~CT.TPS.htiti~i I these kNN techniques is that new cases retained ire (c, IEE: 2001 indexed separately into the llat memory structurc and thus thc search space keeps on increasing, further A. C. M. Fang is with thc Institute of Infornxitiou aiid i\;lathematical Sciences, Massey University, L41ban): New Zealand, reducing the efliciency. In summary, both LVQS and E~niail: is an IEE Mernber. S. IIui f le C. KSOM perform better than either of the kNN methods for is with Nanyang Technological University, School of Coniputer retrieval in both the speed and accuracy b Engineering, Nnnyaiiy il\,Cl1Llc. Singapore 6.39798, E-mail: ability to geiie~ilise inform;rtioii through t