National Physical Laboratory

Prognostics: knowing when systems will fail

A new collaborative project is being set up by NPL to carry out research into possible indicators of remaining useful life in electronic components.

Prognostics is especially relevant to the aerospace industry as it allows for more efficient maintenance scheduling
Prognostics is especially relevant to the aerospace
industry as it allows for more efficient maintenance
scheduling

'Prognostics' involves monitoring the health of a device and estimating its remaining useful life. Knowing when an electronic assembly is going to fail can give a company a competitive edge, as it allows for longer periods of time between scheduled maintenance and an associated reduction in costs. By replacing components before they fail, equipment downtime can also be minimised. This makes prognostics especially relevant for the aerospace and energy sectors.

There are several different approaches to prognostics. Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, or external parameters such as the signal noise in the power line, can be monitored to give an indication of how long a component has left before it will fail. The research in this new project will look at electronic interconnects, measuring electrical impedance, noise and linearity, and identifying suitable indicators for predicting remaining useful life.

The project will also look at so-called 'canary components', which are designed to fail earlier than any other electronic component to warn of the impending failure of a device - much in the way that canaries were once used in coal mines as a first indicator of dangerously low oxygen levels.

Industrial partners are encouraged to get involved in the overall decision making of the project and to help decide on what components and conditions to include in the research.

More information on the Prognostics of Electronic Interconnects project

More on NPL's work on Electronics Interconnection

For further details, please contact Owen Thomas

Last Updated: 11 Jun 2012
Created: 6 Jun 2012