Fault detection and diagnosis in process industry has attracted a lot of attention recently. There is an abundance of literature on process fault diagnosis ranging from analytical methods to artificial and statistical methods. From a modeling perspective, the methods can rely on quantitative, semi-quantitative and qualitative models. At the other end of the spectrum, there are historical data-based methods that do not make use of any form of model information but rely only on historical process data.
The basic aim of this study is to emphasize the importance of introducing more advanced multivariate fault diagnostic systems in agricultural machinery world. Up till now, farmers or contractors still observe the process in order to detect process and sensor failures which can disturb the actions of the controllers and cause severe damage to the whole process. In the future, the complete reliance on human operators for the well-functioning of these systems will become too risky, due to the increasing complexity of this type of machinery. A systematic and comparative study of various fault diagnostic methods, from an agricultural machinery perspective, is provided in this study. The different fault diagnostic techniques, investigated in scientific literature, are compared and evaluated on a common set of criteria. Typical requirements of a fault diagnostic system for agricultural machinery are the adaptability to process changes, user-friendliness, quick detection and robustness. Based on these findings, a hybrid framework of qualitative model-based fault detection techniques and pattern recognition based methods, which rely on historical process data, is proposed as the most suitable fault diagnostic technique.
As a first step towards the research on more advanced fault detection and isolation systems, the general applicability of intelligent neural network techniques like supervised self-organizing maps (SOM) and back-propagation neural networks is illustrated for the detection and isolation of sensor failures on a New Holland CX combine harvester. Pattern recognition techniques, like neural networks, were found to be very suitable for this kind of application because a lot of historical process data are available since the recent generation of combine harvesters is equipped with a wide range of sensors and actuators, which are continuously monitored. Moreover, these pattern recognition techniques allow a quick detection, are easy to use and are able to adapt their structure and/or model parameters based on new measurement data. However, there is space for improvement of these standard techniques and consequently, this study will be concluded by a formulation of suggestions for future research concerning the fault diagnosis on agricultural machinery.