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Remaining Useful Life Estimation using Convolutional Neural Network

This example shows how to predict the remaining useful life (RUL) of engines by using deep convolutional neural networks (CNN) [1]. The advantage of a deep learning approach is that there is no need for manual feature extraction or feature selection for your model to predict RUL. Furthermore, prior knowledge of machine health prognostics and signal processing is not required for developing a deep learning based RUL prediction model.

Download Dataset

This example uses the Turbofan Engine Degradation Simulation Dataset (C-MAPSS) [2]. The ZIP-file contains run-to-failure time-series data for four different sets (namely FD001, FD002, FD003, FD004) simulated under different combinations of operational conditions and fault modes.

This example uses only the FD001 dataset which is further divided into training and test subsets. The training subset contains simulated time series data for 100 engines. Each engine has several sensors whose values are recorded at a given instance in a continuous process. Hence the sequence of recorded data varies in length and corresponds to a full run-to-failure (RTF) instance. The test subset contains 100 partial sequences and corresponding values of the remaining useful life at the end of each sequence.

Download the Turbofan Engine Degradation Simulation dataset to a file named “” and unzip it to a folder called “data” in the current directory.

filename = "";
if ~exist(filename,'file')
    url = "";

dataFolder = "data";
if ~exist(dataFolder,'dir')

The data folder now contains text files with 26 columns of numbers, separated by spaces. Each row is a snapshot of data taken during a single operational cycle, and each column represents a different variable:

  • Column 1: Unit number

  • Column 2: Time-stamp

  • Columns 3–5: Operational settings

  • Columns 6–26: Sensor measurements 1–21

Preprocess Training Data

Load the data using the function localLoadData. The function extracts the data from filenamePredictors and returns a table which contains the training predictors and corresponding response (i.e., RUL) sequences. Each row represents a different engine.

filenameTrainPredictors = fullfile(dataFolder,"train_FD001.txt");
rawTrain = localLoadData(filenameTrainPredictors);

Examine run-to-failure data for one of the engines.

ans=8×26 table
    id    timeStamp    op_setting_1    op_setting_2    op_setting_3    sensor_1    sensor_2    sensor_3    sensor_4    sensor_5    sensor_6    sensor_7    sensor_8    sensor_9    sensor_10    sensor_11    sensor_12    sensor_13    sensor_14    sensor_15    sensor_16    sensor_17    sensor_18    sensor_19    sensor_20    sensor_21
    __    _________    ____________    ____________    ____________    ________    ________    ________    ________    ________    ________    ________    ________    ________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________    _________

    1         1          -0.0007         -0.0004           100          518.67      641.82      1589.7      1400.6      14.62       21.61       554.36      2388.1      9046.2        1.3         47.47       521.66         2388       8138.6       8.4195        0.03          392         2388          100         39.06       23.419  
    1         2           0.0019         -0.0003           100          518.67      642.15      1591.8      1403.1      14.62       21.61       553.75        2388      9044.1        1.3         47.49       522.28       2388.1       8131.5       8.4318        0.03          392         2388          100            39       23.424  
    1         3          -0.0043          0.0003           100          518.67      642.35        1588      1404.2      14.62       21.61       554.26      2388.1      9052.9        1.3         47.27       522.42         2388       8133.2       8.4178        0.03          390         2388          100         38.95       23.344  
    1         4           0.0007               0           100          518.67      642.35      1582.8      1401.9      14.62       21.61       554.45      2388.1      9049.5        1.3         47.13       522.86       2388.1       8133.8       8.3682        0.03          392         2388          100         38.88       23.374  
    1         5          -0.0019         -0.0002           100          518.67      642.37      1582.8      1406.2      14.62       21.61          554      2388.1      9055.1        1.3         47.28       522.19         2388       8133.8       8.4294        0.03          393         2388          100          38.9       23.404  
    1         6          -0.0043         -0.0001           100          518.67       642.1      1584.5      1398.4      14.62       21.61       554.67        2388      9049.7        1.3         47.16       521.68         2388       8132.9       8.4108        0.03          391         2388          100         38.98       23.367  
    1         7            0.001          0.0001           100          518.67      642.48      1592.3      1397.8      14.62       21.61       554.34        2388      9059.1        1.3         47.36       522.32         2388       8132.3       8.3974        0.03          392         2388          100          39.1       23.377  
    1         8          -0.0034          0.0003           100          518.67      642.56        1583        1401      14.62       21.61       553.85        2388      9040.8        1.3         47.24       522.47         2388       8131.1       8.4076        0.03          391         2388          100         38.97       23.311  

Examine the response data for one of the engines.

ans = 8×1


Visualize time-series data for some of the predictors.


Remove Features with Less Variability

Features that remain constant for all time steps can negatively impact the training. Use the prognosability function to measure the variability of features at failure.

prog = prognosability(rawTrain.X,"timeStamp");

It can be observed that for some features, prognosability is equal to zero or NaN. Discard these features.

idxToRemove = prog.Variables==0 | isnan(prog.Variables);
featToRetain = prog.Properties.VariableNames(~idxToRemove);
for i = 1:height(rawTrain)
    rawTrain.X{i} = rawTrain.X{i}{:,featToRetain};

Normalize Training Predictors

Normalize the training predictors to have zero mean and unit variance.

[~,Xmu,Xsigma] = zscore(vertcat(rawTrain.X{:}));
preTrain = table();
for i = 1:numel(rawTrain.X)
    preTrain.X{i} = (rawTrain.X{i} - Xmu) ./ Xsigma;

Clip Responses

This step is optional. In order for network to focus on the part of the data where engines are more likely to fail (end of the engine's life), clip the responses at the threshold of 150. This makes the network treat instances with higher RUL values as equal.

clipResponses = true;

if clipResponses
    rulThreshold = 150;
    for i = 1:numel(rawTrain.Y)
        preTrain.Y{i} = min(rawTrain.Y{i},rulThreshold);

This figure shows the first observation and the corresponding clipped response.

Prepare Data for CNN Training

The CNN architecture used in this example takes input data in 2D format (similar to an image) where one dimension represents the sequence length and the other dimension represents the number of features. However, the time-series data for each engine varies in length. Therefore, sequences of fixed length are extracted from time-series data to make it compatible for CNN training.

Generate Sequences of Fixed Length

Use localGenerateSequences function to generate sequences of fixed window length from the time series data of each engine. The corresponding response variable for each sequence represents the RUL at the last time-stamp of that sequence.

  • WindowLength describes the length of the time-series data used for predicting RUL at a given time stamp

  • Stride is the measure of shift between two consecutive windows of length WindowLength

To understand better how localGenerateSequences works, consider a sequence data of length 10. If the chosen parameters WindowLength of 4 and Stride of 1 are used to create sequences then localGenerateSequences would return a total of 7 sequences of length 4 in a table.

WindowLength of 40 and Stride of 1 was chosen based on an experimentation. They can be set to other values to investigate improved model performance.

WindowLength = 40;
Stride = 1;
dataTrain = localGenerateSequences(preTrain,WindowLength,Stride);

Reshape Sequence Data for imageInputLayer

The imageInputLayer (Deep Learning Toolbox) used in the CNN architecture expects the size of the input data, specified as a row vector of integers [h w c], where h, w, and c correspond to the height, width, and number of channels respectively. Therefore, reshape the data to have 3 dimensions as [WindowLength numFeatures 1].

numFeatures = size(dataTrain.X{1},2);
InputSize = [WindowLength numFeatures 1];
for i = 1:size(dataTrain,1)
    dataTrain.X{i} = reshape(dataTrain.X{i},InputSize);

Network Architecture

The deep convolutional neural network architecture used for RUL estimation is described in [1].

Input data is prepared in 2D format, with the first dimension representing the length of the time sequence and the second dimension representing the number of selected features. Convolutional layers are stacked for feature extraction, followed by a fully connected layer.

The selected network architecture applies 1D convolution along the time sequence direction only. This implies that the order of features in the InputSize will not impact the training and only trends in one feature at a time are considered.

Define the network architecture. Create a CNN that consists of four consecutive sets of a CNN layer and a relu layer, with filterSize and numFilters as the two input arguments for convolution2dLayer, followed by a fully connected layer of size numHiddenUnits and a dropout layer with dropout probability of 0.5. Setting the value of the second dimension of filterSize to 1, results in 1D convolution. Since the network is predicting the remaining useful life (RUL) of the turbofan engine, set numResponses to 1.

filterSize = [5, 1];
numHiddenUnits = 100;
numResponses = 1;

layers = [
    convolution2dLayer([3 1],5)

Train the Network

Specify trainingOptions (Deep Learning Toolbox). Train for 20 epochs with minibatches of size 512 using the ‘adam’ solver. Set LearnRateSchedule to piecewise to drop the learning rate during training and LearnRateDropFactor to 0.3 as the dropping factor for the training. Specify the learning rate 0.003 to slow down learning, and shuffle the data every epoch to make the network robust. Turn on the training progress plot, and turn off the command window output (Verbose).

maxEpochs = 20;
miniBatchSize = 512;

options = trainingOptions('adam', ...
    'MaxEpochs',maxEpochs, ...
    'MiniBatchSize',miniBatchSize, ...
    'InitialLearnRate',0.003, ...

Train the network using trainNetwork.

net = trainNetwork(dataTrain,layers,options);

Plot the layer graph of the network to visualize the underlying network architecture.

lgraph = layerGraph(net.Layers);

Test the Network

The test data contains 100 partial sequences and corresponding values of the remaining useful life at the end of each sequence.

filenameTestPredictors = fullfile(dataFolder,'test_FD001.txt');
filenameTestResponses = fullfile(dataFolder,'RUL_FD001.txt');
dataTest = localLoadData(filenameTestPredictors,filenameTestResponses);

Prepare the test dataset for predictions by performing the same pre-processing steps that were done for the training dataset.

for i = 1:numel(dataTest.X)
    dataTest.X{i} = dataTest.X{i}{:,featToRetain};
    dataTest.X{i} = (dataTest.X{i} - Xmu) ./ Xsigma;
    if clipResponses
        dataTest.Y{i} = min(dataTest.Y{i},rulThreshold);

The network will not be able to make predictions for time-series whose length is less than the WindowLength. Therefore, remove test units with sequences smaller than WindowLength.

unitLengths = zeros(numel(dataTest.Y),1);
for i = 1:numel(dataTest.Y)
    unitLengths(i) = numel(dataTest.Y{i,:});
dataTest(unitLengths<WindowLength+1,:) = [];

Create a table for storing the predicted response (YPred) along with the true response (Y).

predictions = table('Size',[height(dataTest) 2],'VariableTypes',["cell","cell"],'VariableNames',["Y","YPred"]);

for i=1:height(dataTest)
    unit = localGenerateSequences(dataTest(i,:),WindowLength,Stride);
    predictions.Y{i} = unit.Y;
    predictions.YPred{i} = predict(net,unit,'MiniBatchSize',miniBatchSize);

Performance Metrics

Compute root-mean-square error (RMSE) across all time-cycles of the test sequences to compare how well the network performed on the test data.

for i = 1:size(predictions,1)
    predictions.RMSE(i) = sqrt(mean((predictions.Y{i} - predictions.YPred{i}).^2));

The following histogram helps in visualizing the distribution of RMSE values across all test engines.

title("RMSE ( Mean: " + round(mean(predictions.RMSE),2) + " , StDev: " + round(std(predictions.RMSE),2) + " )");

Additionally, to see how the network predictor is performing throughout the given sequence of data in the test engines. Use the localLambdaPlot function to plot the predicted RUL against the true RUL of any test engine.


The result shows that the CNN deep learning architecture for estimating RUL of the turbo engine data is an alternative approach to predict RUL. The RMSE values at all time-stamps indicates that the network was able to perform well towards the end of the given test sequence data. This suggests that it is important to have some small history of the sensor values when trying to predict RUL.

Helper Functions

Load Data function

This function loads run-to-failure data from the provided text file, groups time-series data and its corresponding RUL values in a table as predictors and responses.

function data = localLoadData(filenamePredictors,varargin)

if isempty(varargin)
    filenameResponses = []; 
    filenameResponses = varargin{:};

%% Load the text file as a table
rawData = readtable(filenamePredictors);

% Add variable names to the table
VarNames = {...
    'id', 'timeStamp', 'op_setting_1', 'op_setting_2', 'op_setting_3', ...
    'sensor_1', 'sensor_2', 'sensor_3', 'sensor_4', 'sensor_5', ...
    'sensor_6', 'sensor_7', 'sensor_8', 'sensor_9', 'sensor_10', ...
    'sensor_11', 'sensor_12', 'sensor_13', 'sensor_14', 'sensor_15', ...
    'sensor_16', 'sensor_17', 'sensor_18', 'sensor_19', 'sensor_20', ...
rawData.Properties.VariableNames = VarNames;

if ~isempty(filenameResponses)
    RULTest = dlmread(filenameResponses);

% Split the signals for each unit ID
IDs = rawData{:,1};
nID = unique(IDs);
numObservations = numel(nID);

% initialize a table for storing data
data = table('Size',[numObservations 2],...

for i=1:numObservations
    idx = IDs == nID(i);
    data.X{i} = rawData(idx,:);
    if isempty(filenameResponses)
        % calculate RUL from time column for train data
        data.Y{i} = flipud(rawData.timeStamp(idx))-1;
        % use RUL values from filenameResponses for test data
        sequenceLength = sum(idx);
        endRUL = RULTest(i);
        data.Y{i} = [endRUL+sequenceLength-1:-1:endRUL]'; %#ok<NBRAK> 

Generate Sequences function

This function generate sequences from time-series data given the WindowLength and Stride. The Output is a table of sequences as matrices and corresponding RUL values as vectors.

function seqTable = localGenerateSequences(dataTable,WindowLength,Stride)

getX = @(X) generateSequences(X,WindowLength,Stride);
getY = @(Y) Y(WindowLength:Stride:numel(Y));

seqTable = table;
temp = cellfun(getX,dataTable.X,'UniformOutput',false);
seqTable.X = vertcat(temp{:});
temp = cellfun(getY,dataTable.Y,'UniformOutput',false);
seqTable.Y = vertcat(temp{:});

% sub-function
function seqCell = generateSequences(tsData,WindowLength,Stride)
% returns a cell array of sequences from time-series data using WindowLength and Stride

% create a function to extract a single sequence given start index
getSeq = @(idx) tsData(1+idx:WindowLength+idx,:);
% determine starting indices for sequences
idxShift = num2cell(0:Stride:size(tsData,1)-WindowLength)';
% extract sequences
seqCell = cellfun(getSeq,idxShift,'UniformOutput',false);

Lambda Plot function

This helper function accepts the predictions table and a lambdaCase, plots the predicted RUL against the true RUL throughout its sequence (at every time-stamp) for the better visualization of how the prediction is changing with every time-stamp. The second argument lambdaCase to this function can be the test engine number or a set of valid strings to find an engine number like "random", "best", "worst" or "average".

function localLambdaPlot(predictions,lambdaCase)

if isnumeric(lambdaCase)
    idx = lambdaCase;
    switch lambdaCase
        case {"Random","random","r"}
            idx = randperm(height(predictions),1); %Randomly choose a test case to plot
        case {"Best","best","b"}
            idx = find(predictions.RMSE == min(predictions.RMSE)); %Best case
        case {"Worst","worst","w"}
            idx = find(predictions.RMSE == max(predictions.RMSE)); %Worst case
        case {"Average","average","a"}
            err = abs(predictions.RMSE-mean(predictions.RMSE));
            idx = find(err==min(err),1);
y = predictions.Y{idx};
yPred = predictions.YPred{idx};
x = 0:numel(y)-1;
legend("True RUL","Predicted RUL")
xlabel("Time stamp (Test data sequence)")
ylabel("RUL (Cycles)")

title("RUL for Test engine #"+idx+ " ("+lambdaCase+" case)")


  1. X. Li, Q. Ding, and J.-Q. Sun, “Remaining useful life estimation in prognostics using deep convolution neural networks,” Reliability Engineering & System Safety, vol. 172, pp. 1–11, Apr. 2018

  2. Saxena, Abhinav, Kai Goebel. "Turbofan Engine Degradation Simulation Data Set." NASA Ames Prognostics Data Repository, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

See Also

| (Deep Learning Toolbox) | (Deep Learning Toolbox)

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