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NSF I/UCRC on Intelligent Maintenance Systems (IMS)

Missouri University of Science and Technology

University of Cincinnati

University of Michigan

University of Texas at Austin

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IMS Center is a leader in researching, developing and deploying technologies for Prognostics & Health Management (PHM), e-Maintenance, and Decision Support

Center Mission and Rationale

The IMS Center is a leading NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) in the areas of Prognostics and Health Management (PHM) and Industrial AI. The Center has over 19 years of experience in developing and delivering PHM and AI enabled solutions for a wide-range of industrial applications.

The IMS Center’s ultimate mission is to provide it's members with technologies and methodologies for worry free uptime by enabling products and systems to achieve and sustain near-zero breakdown performance, and by transform maintenance data to useful information for improved productivity and asset life-cycle utilization. The Center also strives to expand the ability of organizations to ultize data, big data, and interconnectivity (Internet-of-Things) to track, predict, respond and understand potneitlal issues, as well as improve all levels of their business.

Since its inception, the Center has conducted over 120 successful industry and NSF supported projects, and has attracted over 100 members from all across the globe. The IMS Center was recently identified as the most economically impactful I/UCRC in NSF’s recent study titled Measuring the Economic Impacts of the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program: A Feasibility Study. According to this study, the Center delivered its members a $855 Million in combined benefits as of 2012.


Research program

IMS Research Thrust Areas

Core Technologies

Watchdog Agent®

The Watchdog Agent® is the IMS Center’s premiere collection of algorithms for prognostics and health management (PHM). The Watchdog Agent® can be customized and reconfigured for use in virtually any application—from products and equipment, to complex systems or manufacturing lines.


The toolbox contains four categories of analytical tools that assess and predict performance or failures of machines and processes, by extracting performance-related features from inputs such as sensor data, controller signals, expert knowledge, etc. These historical feature sets are modeled to establish a baseline for comparison with newly acquired data and derive prediction results. Prediction results are utilized for maintenance decision making and related infrastructure operations. Leveraging over ten years of development, demonstration and deployment, the entire toolbox includes over 20 algorithms and various approaches for tool selection depending on systems and data set characteristics.

These tools, coupled with the Center's systematic approach for Prognostics and Health Management, have brought real economic mpacts to the Center's members.

Device-to-Business Platform

A Device-to-Business (D2B) platform connects machines products to decision makers, whether they're people or software systems. Whatever the industry or process, it is necessary to make business decisions based on available data or information; D2B is the knowledge base and equipment needed to transform raw data or simple information (such as error codes) into a valuable asset for a maintenance management team, inventory management system, customer relationship initiative, and more. And once this transformation is established, additional modules can be added to the D2B Platform to meet the specific needs of your industry, such as prognostics (Watchdog or otherwise), alarming and notification, statistical analysis, or optimization modules.

Decision Support Tools

Decision Support Tools (DSTs) utlize performance and health information from prognostics tools to provide users with the most appropriate actions to be taken to prevent production losses. DSTs can also aide in prioritizing maintenance actions, resulting in further optimization of personnel and resources, as well as increased uptime and lower costs.


Prognostics & Health Management


The IMS Center provides prognostics solutions for manufacturing at all levels to assess and predict component health, machine health and process performance, preventing unexpected downtime and effective decision making.


The IMS Center has developed Prognostics & Health Management solutions for power generation, storage and usage applications. This includes: the development of advanced predictive tools for near-continuous uptime of energy generating assets; mobility readiness and safety for next-generation electric vehicles via the Smart Battery Agent; and the implementation of low-cost, noninvasive predictive solutions using equipment energy consumption.


The IMS Center’s Watchdog Agent® tools for Prognostics & Health Management can be deployed on virtually any platform, from embedding tools to operate in proprietary software environments, to providing cloud-based tool selection, processing and analysis.


Vehicle Systems


IMS Center tools have been developed for multiple vehicle applications including automotive, mass transit, aersopace and military.




Advanced technologies and big data (as well as data in general) have become increasingly important and useful tools in the healthcare industry. From the digitization of patient information, to the availability and sharing of fitness and activity information on the individual level, data can be an extremely useful tool for providers of preventative, routine, and curative care, and for individuals making day today health decisions. The IMS Center has begun research and development efforts to translate its signature technologies and methodologies to many areas within the healthcare industry, and to develop new innovations, software and intelligent systems to increase the availability and improve the quality of information for healthcare providers and individuals alike. The availability of this information will impact the accuracy of health diagnoses, care, treatment decisions, and fitness and activity data, thus improving overall outcomes. With its current efforts, the Center has specifically targeted the areas of assisted living safety and rehabilitation, as well as activity fitness and health data acquisition and analytics.


Dominant Innovation

Innovation is not just about new product development, but it also refers to the creation of new value-added services to achieve better

productivity and performance. The IMS Center works with its members to develop such services and transform an existing business into a smart product service business.

Special Activities

Contributions in Other Disciplines:

The Center has numerous ongoing projects and core research efforts that seek to bring the benefits of intelligent prognostics and health management to renewable energy solutions such as wind turbines and solar panels, as well as li-ion batteries for hybrid and battery-electric vehicle applications. Additional research areas include: data quality, which can be applied to many different fields and applications; energy monitoring; smart, wireless sensors; and networks.

E-Manufacturing Course Development:

IMS Center has developed e-Manufacturing course at the University of Cincinnati. IMS supports undergraduates, graduates, and post-doctoral researchers and assists them in developing better intellectual and career growth by close collaboration with industry members. Students have been able to develop their professional and research skills through intern opportunities in member companies.

Industry Experience for Researchers:

This past year, IMS researchers were awarded internships with the following IMS members: Army Research Labs, GE Aviation, Goodyear, National Instruments and Parker-Hannifin. Several of IMS recent graduates have been offered jobs in companies such as  EATON, GE Aviation, GE Global Research, Goodyear, Parker-Hannifin, and Siemens, among others.


The IMS Center has employed three Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) as well as one University of Cincinnati W.I.S.E. (Women in Science and Engineering) Student in the past year. Each student has undertaken different areas of IMS research and has assisted our Graduate Researchers on numerous projects while with the IMS Center. These students have also been focused on learning IMS technologies as well as continuing their education at the University of Cincinnati.

The Center continues to work on Research Experience for Teachers activities, and will be beginning a new program involving middle-school and high-school students and teachers. Currently, the RET project is focusing on building relationships with the engineering education community and seeking new partners.

Facilities and Laboratory

The IMS Center is located in the School of Dynamic Systems in the College of Engineering & Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati.

The Center is comprised of two main laboratories in which most of the development and testing of IMS technologies takes place. In addition, a number of the Center's members host test beds that help IMS researchers validate these technologies in real-world industry settings.

Although the Center often prefers to rely on in-field industry testing facilities, it's researchers have constructed in-house test beds for rapid development in key research thrust areas, such as accelerated life testing (ALT), battery remaining useful life prediction, smart battery prognostics for electric vehicles, cloud-based prognostics and PHM for bearings, among others.

The center has recently acquired and fully instrumented a band saw machine that will be utilized as a test bed for the IMS Center; this machine will also made available to all University of Cincinnati engineering students for use on academic projects. This band saw is a marked improvement over the cutting tools that were previously available to the students. A testbench was also developed for control valves. These new assets are in addition to the already developed testbed for batteries, which is being currently used to run life test for an on-going project. These test beds allow center researchers to acquire operating data, induce faults, and test new algorithms and methods that are being developed at the Center. These test beds are semipermanent fixtures at the Center and will be used for projects and research in the future.

Software development at the Center involves multiple hardware platforms and languages, such as National Instruments LabVIEW, Advantech eStudio, and MATLAB, among other proprietary solutions used in industry. This allows the Center's technologies to be disseminated among the greatest number of it's industry members.


University of Cincinnati

560 Baldwin
University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221-0072

United States

University of Michigan

Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109

United States

Missouri University of Science and Technology

1870 Miner Circle
221 Emerson Electric Co Hall

Rolla, Missouri, 65409

United States


University of Texas at Austin

204 E. Dean Keeton St.
Stop C2200, ETC II 5.160

Austin, Texas, 78712-1591

United States

(512) 232-0815