This paper develops a new approach for fault detection which involves soft sensors for process monitoring. Unlike existing approaches, which compare current measurements, or linear combinations thereof, to values of these measurements representing normal operations, the methodology presented here deals directly with the state estimates that need to be monitored. The advantage of such an approach is that the effect of abnormal process conditions on the state variables can be directly observed and that it is possible to include nonlinear relationships between measurements and states. At the same time, this type of approach has the drawback that the variances of the unmeasured states are not equal to the variances of the actual process variables due to the use of a soft sensor. However, for many popular soft sensor techniques, such as Kalman filters and related approaches, it is possible to compute variances of the predicted states that correspond to normal operating conditions. This paper presents a general framework for using soft sensors for process monitoring, i.e., soft sensor design and computation of the statistics that represent normal operating conditions, and illustrates this framework in specific applications. These applications illustrate that this new approach allows for early detection of disastrous events, while potentially reducing the number of alarm variables required.
Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 26, No. 3, pp 443-452 (2013)