Health Monitoring of Marine Equipment

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Commissioning modern military ships and submarines can require significant economic investments in terms of defence budget expenditure. For example a projected £6.3 billion for HMS Queen Elizabeth, and as such these assets are expected to remain operational for decades while being deployed in challenging environments. Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) provide a way to monitor the condition of complex equipment, and derive prognostic analysis such as Remaining Useful Life (RUL). This can bring many benefits, such as enabling auxiliary equipment to take over operation of key functions before failure of primary equipment, the increased understanding and insight into equipment being monitored highlighting development opportunities, and anticipation of maintenance and logistical requirements which can reduce maintenance costs. There has been significant growth in interest for HUMS capabilities recently as result of the benefits they bring and in response to increasing demands for Contract for Availability (CfA) and comprehensive supportability, as evidenced by a CfA introduced in 2010 for Trafalgar Class submarines between the MoD and Babcock. This interest in prognostics has led to ground-breaking research with considerable relevant expertise at Heriot-Watt University. Furthermore, within the maritime industry there has historically been a view that methods relating to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) do not apply to bespoke design and manufacture of complex one-off assets. However, advances in technology and analysis strategies enable HUMS capabilities to be integrated into holistic platforms such as Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS) therefore providing health monitoring and enhanced insight into the interdependences of components and sub-systems within a complex asset.
The scope of this project was to design and build a first generation condition monitoring system, called the Environment and Health Monitoring System (EHMS), to be deployed onto MacTaggart Scott (MTS) assets of interest. This will enable access to previously unobtainable data to enable condition monitoring and inform the development of prognostic capabilities such as potential RUL derivation. The main technical challenges with regards to system design identified at the outset of the project were firstly fitting the EHMS into spatial restrictions so that it would be compatible with a wide range of MTS mechanical handling sub-systems and equipment, secondly the power consumption of the EHMS with regards to a prolonged lifetime, and thirdly the encapsulation of sensors for subsea environments outside a pressure hull. As a multi-sensor system, the EHMS will collect data on the subsea environment as well as MTS asset measurands, to be stored securely using a well-respected encryption protocol for retrieval. Although operating completely autonomously during deployment, secure wireless functionality has been implemented in order to communicate with the system for maintenance and data reclamation. Also within the remit of the project was the design and build of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) capable of connecting with the system for configuration, maintenance and data retrieval/ interpretation purposes. The resulting prototype system developed throughout this project will not only meet objectives, but is a solid modular platform enabling future development in multiple directions beyond the project scope while overcoming the technical challenges encountered during design.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2015
EventSIA 3rd Submarine Science, Technology and Engineering Conference 2015 - Adelaide Convention Centre , Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 17 Nov 201519 Nov 2015


ConferenceSIA 3rd Submarine Science, Technology and Engineering Conference 2015
Internet address


  • Marine
  • Asset Management
  • Condition monitoring
  • Prognostics
  • Sensors


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