Remaining Useful Life Estimation for Engineered Systems Operating under Uncertainty with Causal GraphNets

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Sep 22;21(19):6325. doi: 10.3390/s21196325.


In this work, a novel approach, termed GNN-tCNN, is presented for the construction and training of Remaining Useful Life (RUL) models. The method exploits Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) and deals with the problem of efficiently learning from time series with non-equidistant observations, which may span multiple temporal scales. The efficacy of the method is demonstrated on a simulated stochastic degradation dataset and on a real-world accelerated life testing dataset for ball-bearings. The proposed method learns a model that describes the evolution of the system implicitly rather than at the raw observation level and is based on message-passing neural networks, which encode the irregularly sampled causal structure. The proposed approach is compared to a recurrent network with a temporal convolutional feature extractor head (LSTM-tCNN), which forms a viable alternative for the problem considered. Finally, by taking advantage of recent advances in the computation of reparametrization gradients for learning probability distributions, a simple, yet efficient, technique is employed for representing prediction uncertainty as a gamma distribution over RUL predictions.

Keywords: Graph Neural Networks (GNNs); Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs); Remaining Useful Life (RUL); ball bearings; condition monitoring; forecast uncertainty; non-uniform sampling.

MeSH terms

  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Probability
  • Uncertainty