Designing for Human-Centred Decision Support Systems in PHM



Published Jul 8, 2014
Darren McDonnell Nora Balfe Sameer Al-Dahidi Garret E. O'Donnell


Prognostics and health management (PHM) represents a paradigm shift from legacy condition based maintenance (CBM) frameworks by expanding the potentials to accurately and robustly detect and diagnose incipient system faults. The ultimate goal of PHM is reliably predicting system failure times to allow for efficient maintenance scheduling either autonomously or by human decision makers (DM). In many industrial settings today the output from PHM systems constitutes a decision support system (DSS) used to aid DM, as entirely autonomous systems have not seen widespread industrial integration. However, there is relatively little support for engineers designing PHM systems in terms of human factors and how to provide the information in a way that actively supports human decision-making and this gap may result in limited use of PHM system by maintainers. The reliability of the information presented is a critical factor in the user acceptance and trust in a system. As a first step in developing such guidance, this paper reviews the implementation of other DSS and presents a design framework whereby PHM reliability levels are mapped against a suggested level of human input to the decision making process regarding required maintenance. The aim is to provide engineers with a guide to the level to which they should consider human factors and the presentation of information in the design of their PHM system. Fundamental to the suggested paradigm is that the uncertainties within a PHM system can be quantified, and as uncertainty increases, the requirement for DM to access additional information not explicitly tied to the PHM output increases. This information can form both explicit and tacit knowledge of a system or indeed industrial contexts surrounding decision implications, such as acceptable maintenance intervention windows in busy production schedules. As the complexity of a system or component being monitored is likely to affect the uncertainty within the PHM system associated with it, we are considering the overall cumulative uncertainty of a model output as the metric through which the required level of human input can be inferred. Coupled to this is the fact that increased model uncertainty is a causal factor in distrust and potential non-use of the model in industrial applications. It is the authors’ belief therefore that designing for increased human-model interaction concurrent with increasing model uncertainty may lead to a better engagement with PHM decision support capabilities, thereby offering the full advantages that PHM has to offer. The framework presented in this paper is an initial step towards facilitating the design of more usable and useful PHM systems.

How to Cite

McDonnell, D., Balfe, N., Al-Dahidi, S., & O’Donnell, G. E. (2014). Designing for Human-Centred Decision Support Systems in PHM. PHM Society European Conference, 2(1).
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uncertainty management, decision support, prognostics and health management (PHM), human factors, decision making with uncertainty

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