Fault Detection in modular system


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I have a problem in fault detection I am working on. It involves the detection of faults in a system (plant) that is made up of subsystems that are copies of each other. These subsystems can be interchanged, and the size of the plant is determined by how many subsystems are connected. The subsystems can vary in age and state of maintenance, and can even vary in their sensing and actuating capability (hence they are maybe not exactly 'copies' of each other).

My question to the wisdom of the group is: Does anyone know of any research or application work in the area of fault detection on systems made up of dynamically dependent subsystems? I'm looking for ideas here...

The system I am interested in is a dynamically coupled mechanical system powered by actuators under closed-loop control with various sensors providing input. The sensor and actuator behaviors are all driven by the dynamic state of this system, and the dynamic state is affected by the number of subsystems in the system.

One could implement fault detection on each subsystem, looking at the dynamic behavior of only that subsystem, but I think there is a benefit to implementing a system-wide fault detection scheme, since more information is available when considering the dynamics of the complete system. The problem is that one must then keep track of the system topology and account for some variation in the sensing and actuating capability of each subsystem.

I'm wondering if the benefits of looking at the 'global' dynamics to make more accurate fault detection are worth solving the problem introduced by subsystem variability. I haven't been able to find any research that addresses this issue directly so I'm wondering I'm wading into unchartered territory, or maybe just missing an obvious related area of activity.

So I thought I'd ask here and see if anyone had any insight.