A Review of Problem Structuring Methods for Consideration in Prognostics and Smart Manufacturing



Published Nov 13, 2020
Patrick T. Hester Andrew J. Collins Barry Ezell John Horst


Successful use of prognostics involves the prediction of future system behaviors in an effort to maintain system availability and reduce the cost of maintenance and repairs. Recent work by the National Institute of Standards and Technology indicates that the field of prognostics and health management is vital for remaining competitive in today’s manufacturing environment. While prognostics-based maintenance involves many traditional operations researchcentric challenges for successful deployment such as limited availability of information and concerns regarding computational efficiency, the authors argue in this paper that the field of prognostics and health management, still in its embryonic development stage, could benefit greatly from considering soft operations research techniques as well. Specifically, the authors propose the use of qualitative problem structuring techniques that aid in problem understanding and scoping. This paper provides an overview of these soft methods and discusses and demonstrates how manufacturers might use them. An approach combining problem structuring methods with traditional operations research techniques would help accelerate the development of the prognostics field.

Abstract 229 | PDF Downloads 464



prognostics, smart manufacturing, problem structuring methods, cognitive mapping, soft systems methodology

Ackermann, F. (2012). Problem structuring methods 'in the Dock': Arguing the case for Soft OR. European Journal of Operational Research, 219, 652-658.
Adams, K. M., & Hester, P. T. (2012). Errors in systems approaches. International Journal of System of Systems Engineering, 3(3/4), 233-242.
Adams, K. M., & Hester, P. T. (2013). Accounting for errors when using systems approaches. Procedia Computer Science, 20, 318-324.
Allen, D. (2002). Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress- Free Productivity: Penguin (Non-Classics).
Blanchard, B. S. (2004). Systems engineering management, 3rd Ed. (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Blockley, D. I., & Godfrey, P. (2000). Doing it differently: systems for rethinking construction. Thomas Telford.
Bole, B., K. Goebel and G. Vachtsevanos (2015). Controlling tracking performance for system health management - a markov decision process formulation. International Journal of Prognostics and Health Management 6: 1-9.
Bryant, J. W. (2007). Drama theory: dispelling the myths. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 58, 602-613.
Byington, C. S., Roemer, M. J., Kacprzynski, G. J., & Galie, T. (2002). Prognostic Enhancements to Diagnostic Systems for Improved Condition-Based Maintenance. Paper presented at the Aerospace Conference Proceedings.
Chapman, C., & Ward, S. (2002). Managing Project Risk and Uncertainty: A Constructively Simple Approach to Decision Making (1st ed.). Chichester: Wiley.
Checkland, P., & Scholes, J. (1999). Soft Systems Methodology in Action: Wiley.
Chien, C.-F., & Wu, J.-Z. (2003). Analyzing repair decisions in the site imbalance problem of semiconductor test machines. IEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing, 16(4), 704-711.
Chien, C.-F., & Wu, J.-Z. (2007). Structuring manufacturing strategy. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 3rd Annual IEEE Conference on Automation Science and Engineering, Scottsdale, AZ.
Collins, A. J., & Currie, C. (2012). Operations Research. In J. A. Sokolowski & C. M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of Modeling and Simulation Real-world Applications (pp. 165-206). New York: Wiley.
Collins, A. J., and E. Frydenlund (2015). Academic revenue management and quantitative worship. Journal of Revenue & Pricing Management 14(1), 50-56.
Conklin, J. (2005). Dialogue mapping: Building shared understanding of wicked problems: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Eden, C. (2001). SODA - The Principles. In J. Rosenhead & J. Mingers (Eds.), Rational Analysis for a Problematic World Revisited (pp. 21-42). Chichester: Wiley.
Eden, C., & Ackermann, F. (1998). Making strategy: The journey of strategic management. London: Sage.
Ezell, B.C. and Crowther, K.G. (2007). Philosophical issues and their implications for the systems architect. Foundations of Science, 12(3), 269-276.
Friend, J. K., & Hickling, A. (1987). Planning under pressure: The Strategic Choice Approach. Oxford, UK: Pergamon.
Friend, J. K., & Jessop, W. N. (1977). Local government and Strategic Choice (2nd. Ed.). Oxford, UK: Pergamon.
Hammond, J. S., Keeney, R. L., & Raiffa, H. (2002). Smart choices: A practical guide to making better life decisions. New York: Broadway Books.
Hester, P. T., & Adams, K. M. (2014). Systemic thinking: Fundamentals for understanding problems and messes. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International.
Hester, P. T., Akpinar-Elci, M., Shaeffer, J. M., & Shaeffer, M. B. (In press). On complementarity and the need for a transdisciplinary perspective in addressing emerging global health issues. In F.-J. Kahlen, S. Flumerfelt, & A. Alves (Eds.), Interdisciplinary perspectives on complex systems: New findings and approaches. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International.Heyer, R. (2004). Understanding Soft Operations Research: The methods, their application and its future in the Defence setting (DSTO-GD-0411). Edinburgh, Australia: DSTO Information Sciences Laboratory.
Katsouros, V., Papavassiliou, V. & Emmanouilidis, C. (2013). A Bayesian approach for maintenance action recommendation. International Journal of Prognostics and Health Management, 4, 1-6.
Kosko, B. (1986). Fuzzy cognitive maps. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 24, 65-
75.Kothamasu, R., Huang, S. H., & VerDuin, W. H. (2006). System health monitoring and prognostics-A review of current paradigms and practices. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 28, 1012-1024.
Kotiadis, K., & Mingers, J. (2006). Combining PSMs with hard OR methods: The philosophical and practical challenges. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57, 856-867.
Lee, J., Ghaffari, M., & Elmeligy, S. (2011). Selfmaintenance and engineering immune systems: Towards smarter machines and manufacturing systems. Annual Reviews in Control, 35, 111–122.
Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63(2), 81.
Mingers, J. (2009). Taming Hard Problems with Soft O.R. ORMS Today, 36, 48-53.
Mingers, J. (2011). Soft OR comes of age-But not everywhere! Omega, 39, 729-741.
Mingers, J., & Rosenhead, J. V. (2004). Problem structuring methods in action. European Journal of Operational Research, 152, 530-554.
Mingers, J., & White, L. (2010). A review of the recent contribution of systems thinking to operational research and management science. European Journal of Operational Research, 207, 1147-1161.
Mitroff, I. (1998). Smart thinking for crazy times: The art of solving the right problems. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Mitroff, I., & Featheringham, T. R. (1974). On systematic problem solving and the error of the third kind. Behavioral Science, 19(6), 383–393.
Mosteller, F. (1948). A K-sample Slippage Test for an Extreme Population. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 19(1), 58-65.
Mullera, A., Marquez, A. C., & Iung, B. (2008). On the concept of e-maintenance: Review and current research. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 93, 1165-1187.
Munro, I., & Mingers, J. (2002). The use of multimethodology in practice--results of a survey of practitioners. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 53(4), 369-378.
Pidd, M., & Woolley, R. N. (1980). A pilot study of problem structuring. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 31(12), 1063-1068.
Ritchey, T. (2006). Problem structuring using computeraided morphological analysis. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57(7), 792-801. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jors.2602177
Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155-169.
Roemer, M. J., Byington, C. S., Kacprzynski, G. J., Vachtsevanos, G., & Goebel, K. (2011). Prognostics. In S. B. Johnson, T. J. Gormley, C. Mott, S. S. Kessler, A. Patterson-Hine, K. M. Reichard, & J. Philip A. Scandura (Eds.), System Health Management: with Aerospace Applications, . Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Rosenhead, J. V. (1996). Whats the problem? An introduction to problem structuring methods. INTERFACES, 26(6), 117-131.
Rosenhead, J. V. (2006). Past, present and future of problem structuring methods. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57, 759-765.
Rosenhead, J. V., & Mingers, J. (2001). Rational analysis for a problematic world revisited (2nd edition). Chichester, England: Wiley & Sons.
Saxena, A., Celaya, J., Balaban, E., Goebel, K., Saha, B., Saha, S., & Schwabacher, M. (2008). Metrics for Evaluating Performance of Prognostics Techniques. Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Prognostics and Health Management (PHM08), Denver, CO.
Saxena, A., Celaya, J., Saha, B., Saha, S., & Goebel, K. (2010). Metrics for Offline Evaluation of Prognostic Performance. International Journal of Prognostics and Health Management, 1, 1-20.
Slack, N., Chambers, S., & Johnston, R. (2013). Operations management (7th ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson education.
Vennix, J. (1996). Group model building: Facilitating team learning using system dynamics. Chicester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Vandawaker, R.M., Jacques, D.R. & Freels, J.K. (2015). Impact of prognostic uncertainty in system health monitoring. International Journal of Prognostics and Health Management, 6, 1-13.
Vonnegut, K. (1990). Hocus pocus. New York: Putnam Publishing Group.
Watson, C. E. (1976). The Problems of Problem Solving. Business Horizons, August, 88-94.
Wheeler, K. R., Kurtoglu, T., & Poll, S. D. (2011). A Survey of Health Management User Objectives in Aerospace Systems Related to Diagnostic and Prognostic Metrics. International Journal of Prognostics and Health Management, 1, 1-19.
Woolley, R. N., & Pidd, M. (1981). Problem Structuring -- A Literature Review. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 32(3), 197-206.
Zhou, Y., Bo, J., & Wei, T. (2013). A Review of Current Prognostics and Health Management System Related Standards. Chemical Engineering Transactions, 33, 277-282.
Technical Papers