Process plant alarm diagnosis using synthesised fault tree knowledge
The development of computer based tools, to assist process plant operators in their task of fault/alarm diagnosis, has received much attention over the last twenty five years. More recently, with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, the research activity in this subject area has heightened. As a result, there are a great variety of fault diagnosis methodologies, using many different approaches to represent the fault propagation behaviour of process plant. These range in complexity from steady state quantitative models to more abstract definitions of the relationships between process alarms. Unfortunately, very few of the techniques have been tried and tested on process plant and even fewer have been judged to be commercial successes. One of the outstanding problems still remains the time and effort required to understand and model the fault propagation behaviour of each considered process. This thesis describes the development of an experimental knowledge based system (KBS) to diagnose process plant faults, as indicated by process variable alarms. In an attempt to minimise the modelling effort, the KBS has been designed to infer diagnoses using a fault tree representation of the process behaviour, generated using an existing fault tree synthesis package (FAULTFINDER). The process is described to FAULTFINDER as a configuration of unit models, derived from a standard model library or by tailoring existing models. The resultant alarm diagnosis methodology appears to work well for hard (non-rectifying) faults, but is likely to be less robust when attempting to diagnose intermittent faults and transient behaviour. The synthesised fault trees were found to contain the bulk of the information required for the diagnostic task, however, this needed to be augmented with extra information in certain circumstances.