Qualitative Order of Magnitude Energy-Flow-Based Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

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This paper presents a structured power and energy-flow-based qualitative modelling approach that is applicable to a variety of system types including electrical and fluid flow. The modelling is split into two parts.

Power flow is a global phenomenon and is therefore naturally represented and analysed by a network comprised of the relevant structural elements from the components of a system. The power flow analysis is a platform for higher-level behaviour prediction of energy related aspects using local component behaviour models to capture a state-based representation with a global time. The primary application is Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and a form of exaggeration reasoning is used, combined with an order of magnitude representation to derive the worst case failure modes.

The novel aspects of the work are an order of magnitude(OM) qualitative network analyser to represent any power domain and topology, including multiple power sources, a feature that was not required for earlier specialised electrical versions of the approach. Secondly, the representation of generalised energy related behaviour as state-based local models is presented as a modelling strategy that can be more vivid and intuitive for a range of topologically complex applications than qualitative equation-based representations.The two-level modelling strategy allows the broad system behaviour coverage of qualitative simulation to be exploited for the FMEA task, while limiting the difficulties of qualitative ambiguity explanation that can arise from abstracted numerical models. We have used the method to support an automated FMEA system with examples of an aircraft fuel system and domestic a heating system discussed in this paper.

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