Development of Self-Maintenance Photocopiers
The traditional reliability design methods are imperfect because the designed systems aim at fewer faults, but once a fault happens, the systems might hard fail. To solve this problem, we present a self-maintenance machine (SMM), one that can maintain its functions flexibly even though faults occur. To achieve the capabilities of diagnosing and repair planning, a model-based approach that uses qualitative physics was proposed. Regarding the repair-executing capability, control-type repair strategy was followed. A prototype of the SMM was developed, and it succeeded in maintaining its functions if the structure did not change. However, the prototype revealed the following problems when its reasoning system was used with a commercial product as embedded software: (1) poor performance of the reasoning system, (2) system size that was too large, (3) low adaptability to environmental changes, and (4) roughness of qualitative repair operations. To solve these problems, we proposed new reasoning method based on virtual cases and fuzzy qualitative values. This methodology is one of knowledge compilation, which gives better reasoning performance and can deal with real-world applications such as the SMM. By using this method, we finally developed a commercial photocopier that has self-maintainability and is more robust against faults. The commercial version has been supplied worldwide as a product of Mita Industrial Co., Ltd., since April 1994.
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