IVHM – The New Paradigm for Health Management of Complex Systems –

The concept of integrated vehicle health management (IVHM) is an evolution of diagnostic and prognostic systems. The goal is to implement an advanced prognostics and health management (PHM) strategy that enables continuous monitoring and real time assessment of vehicle functional health, predicts remaining useful life of fault or near failure components, and uses this information to improve operational decisions. Here, maintenance operations benefit from reduced occurrences of unexpected faults as the health management system will provide early identification of failure precursors while, simultaneously, condition-based maintenance (CBM) is enabled, which can enhance availability, mission reliability, system life, and affordability. Similarly, command and control functions rely on an improved awareness of vehicle condition and vehicle situational capabilities, and so also safety, utilization, vehicle turnaround, and the chance of mission success can increase. 

In some visions, the scope of an IVHM system also includes logistics management. The underpinning expectation is that the availability of continuously updated and detailed vehicle health information can be used to automatically trigger logistics actions. The extended IVHM system comprises both the vehicle and its support infrastructure. An advanced vehicle is designed with a fully functional PHM system that performs fault detection, isolation, and reconfiguration across numerous components and subsystems (e.g., airframe structures, engine, electronics, hydraulics, fuel, and electric power systems). The PHM system also relays aircraft status data to a distributed information system that processes PHM calculations together with other information about the vehicle and the logistic cycle and, if maintenance is required, informs the supply chain infrastructure of the need for parts, tools, test equipment, manpower, and support facilities.

IVHM is a potentially valuable strategy for the manufacture and management of vehicle platforms. Currently, there are deep financial uncertainties in both military and commercial vehicle markets and therefore intense pressure to reduce costs. Hence, much attention is being given to the operational and support activities that contribute a very large proportion of the lifecycle total ownership costs of modern vehicles. Commercial aerospace experience has shown that nearly 95 per cent of aircraft lifecycle costs are attributable to maintenance activities. Similarly, the Military records have historically shown that the cost of operating and supporting a vehicle may exceed the initial purchase price as much as ten times. In this climate, the new generations of vehicle platforms will undergo substantial changes and will integrate distinctive technological progress to improve in-service operations. The current vision is that new and legacy vehicles should be provided with advanced technology-based intelligence functions that should enable more informed decisions on the design, usage, maintenance, and support. This is entirely consistent with the adoption of an IVHM philosophy that uses merging and strong coupling of interdisciplinary trends from the engineering sciences, computer sciences, and communication technologies to achieve the cheapest possible and most effective asset utilization. 

The concept of IVHM has been discussed for some time yet the applications are growing. Although many potential benefits are evident, obstacles have been reported to arise from the need to develop the IVHM technologies and then to accurately evaluate the challenges and risks of IVHM adoption. However, a concerted and coordinated research programme could address many of these obstacles and provide a platform of tools and principles that enable a wide scale adoption of IVHM by manufacturers and owners of vehicle systems. Such research requires a thorough and precise understanding of the existing knowledge and so the purpose of this article is to describe the state-of-the-art of IVHM.

Stratosphere S.A. is a global provider of integrated health management solutions.