Embedded Intelligent Condition Monitoring and Failure Prognosis for Critical Systems

  • Flynn, David (Participant)
  • Valentin Robu (Participant)
  • Graeme Coapes (Participant)

Impact: Economic

Description of impact

Researchers in the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering (ERPE), based at Heriot-Watt University, have invented and developed an Environment and Health Monitoring System (EHMS) that can automate and optimise critical asset operations, quantify existing conditions, predict future State of Health (SoH), and detect precursors to asset failure. The impacts of this advanced condition monitoring system are in its adoption and outcomes within the defence, energy and transport sectors. These include:
(A) EHMS was installed, as a world-first, onto critical aircraft handling equipment on HMS Ocean, the UK’s helicopter carrier and Fleet Flagship of the Royal Navy;
(B) EHMS architecture was chosen by Siemens Energy to be a fundamental sub-system in the development of their new ‘Assetguard’, an on-line condition monitoring platform. EHMS reduced Assetguard development costs by 40% and resulted in enhanced monitoring capabilities;
(C) As a consequence, Siemens invested GBP 1 Million in the UK to support future research and development;
(D) EHMS was incorporated by Denchi Group Ltd into their SLICEMARINE lithium-ion battery technology (for marine propulsion applications) and was applied to a marine passenger transport system, winning the British Renewable Energy Prize 2018 for Decarbonisation of Transport.

Who is affected

Monitoring system


The underpinning ERPE research led the key stages of the development and trials of the Environment and Health Monitoring System (EHMS) for advanced condition monitoring of critical assets. This has resulted in multiple impacts across a range of sectors, including defence, marine, energy and transport. The resulting key impacts of the award-winning collaborations with industry are outlined as follows:

(A) Environment and Health Monitoring System (EHMS)
ERPE researchers have enjoyed a strategic collaborative research partnership with MacTaggart Scott Ltd since 2011. The industry-academic partnership received the 2017 Interface Award for Sustainable Partnership and drove planning and support for additional research. This partnership led the development of EHMS.
MacTaggart Scott benefited from the research by having a world-first installation of EHMS on critical aircraft handling equipment on HMS Ocean, the UK’s helicopter carrier and Fleet Flagship of the Royal Navy. This gave the Royal Navy, for the first time, insight into how equipment such as aircraft handling systems are utilised in the field (at sea), while also providing access to previously inaccessible data on critical systems.

EHMS also provided new insight into the specific loading/duty cycles of the aircraft handling equipment for McTaggart Scott. This informed future bill-of-material (BOM) and factor-of-system (FoS) estimates in the design for reliability (DFR) process. EHMS also provided failure precursor analysis and optimised control of hydraulic systems in the aircraft handling system.

In 2015 MacTaggart Scott were invited to present to the Australian Submarine Institute on the applications of the EHMS, and they stated in their summary “Condition monitoring for outside pressure hull submarine equipment has historically been unachievable due to the need for environmentally capable, power efficient sensing technology with the capability to operate with little or no interaction with the internal submarine environment. Development of the EHMS system enables meaningful data on system performance and operating environment to be gathered throughout a vessel deployment, in a package that requires no pressure hull penetrations”, demonstrating the versatility and unique insights that EHMS can provide.
MacTaggart Scott described the prognostics research as “ground breaking” and confirmed that the development of the EHMS approach has led to international market growth for the company in Australia and North America.

(B) Siemens Assetguard
Siemens Energy needed to replace their legacy Integrated Substation Condition Monitoring (ISCM) platform to take advantage of the advances in data acquisition, processing and advisory communications that new sensors, signal processing and data handling enabled. A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) from 2013-2016 led to the design and development of Assetguard, a novel sensor technology and fusion based prognostics for the next generation of condition monitoring systems for assets on the grid.
In April 2015, during the early project trials of the EHMS and guided by Siemens collaborators, ERPE staff and doctoral trainees in the EPSRC CDT in Embedded Intelligence researched, designed, built and tested a sensor which could detect partial discharge or localised breakdown within voids in the insulation of high voltage electrical systems.

These voids are often the first sign of a potential insulation failure and asset outage. ‘The system would allow operators to pinpoint and deal with the problem before it would have a chance to compromise power supply’. R&D Product Lifecycle Manager at Siemens, Scott Rowland, said, “The motivation and ingenuity shown by these (EPSRC Doctoral) students was outstanding. The project highlighted the great rewards that can be provided by close collaboration between industry and local universities”.

The resultant development and outcomes stemming from the KTP resulted in Siemens achieving a 40% saving in total project development cost compared to that of its predecessor. The modular design of the Assetguard platform also made it more amenable to customisation enabling improved access to international markets. EHMS is now to be found in Assetguard across several application domains denoted: Assetguard PDM (Partial Discharge Monitoring); Assetguard CBM (Circuit Breaker Monitoring); Assetguard GDM (SF6 Gas Density Monitoring) and Assetguard MVC (Medium Voltage Circuit Breakers).

(C) Siemens UK investment, patents and partnership

The technical and commercial success of the Assetguard platform development led to Siemens investing an additional GBP1,000,000 into the UK to support future research and development, jobs and innovation.
A patent (EP3621096A1) also resulted from this research collaboration.

“The knowledge transfer partnership between Siemens and Heriot-Watt University has demonstrated how academia and industry can work together to successfully deliver a paradigm shift in technical capability and resultantly an enhanced service to the clients we serve. With this new technology platform we will continue to grow as a business, as we strive to not only meet but exceed our clients’ expectations.” – R&D Team Leader, Siemens

(D) SLICE Marine
ERPE researchers collaborated with Denchi Power (UK company, part of the Denchi Group) in the academic and industrial HyFES consortium, which was supported by Innovate UK. EHMS was incorporated by Denchipower into their SLICEMARINE lithium-ion battery technology for marine propulsion and other applications.

The rapid commercialisation of SLICE arose from the results of in-field research and trials of EHMS. Sponsored by Innovate UK and EPSRC, the project measured three key performance indicators namely; energy performance, environmental metrics and asset health. It was installed on the MBNA Thames Clipper catamaran passenger vessel in London, resulting in a 75-80% reduction in fuel costs over their diesel engine propulsion system.

The asset management system also reduced operation and maintenance costs of the vessel by providing an advancement from time-based maintenance to predictive maintenance. MBNA vessel engineers and Denchi staff were also able to use the EHMS in SLICE to support autonomous propulsion that reduced noise and pollutant emissions in built-up residential areas adjacent to the Thames operations. The Chairman and Managing Director of Denchi Group Ltd stated, “The Heriot-Watt team was instrumental to the success of the Hybrid Fusion Energy System (HyFES), demonstrating the power that a data driven approach has on determining the prognostics and asset integrity of any platform”. This research and resultant impacts of the Thames Clipper vessel was awarded the British Renewable Energy Prize 2018 for Decarbonisation of Transport
Impact statusAchieved
Impact date1 Jan 201631 Dec 2020
Category of impactEconomic
Impact levelNational


  • 2021