Diagnosing Faults in Different Technical Systems: How Requirements for Diagnosticians Can Be Revealed by Comparing Domain Characteristics

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


In complex work domains, not all possible faults can be anticipated by designers or handled by automation. Humans therefore play an important role in fault diagnosis. To support their diagnostic reasoning, it is necessary to understand the requirements that diagnosticians face. While much research has dealt with identifying domain-general aspects of fault diagnosis, the present exploratory study examined domain-specific influences on the requirements for diagnosticians. Scenario-based interviews were conducted with nine experts from two domains: the car domain and the packaging machine domain. The interviews revealed several factors that influence the requirements for successful fault diagnosis. These factors were summarized in five categories, namely domain background, technical system, typical faults, diagnostic process, and requirements. Based on these factors, we developed the Domain Requirements Model to predict requirements for diagnosticians (e.g., the need for empirical knowledge) from domain characteristics (e.g., the degree to which changes in inputs are available as domain knowledge) or characteristics of the diagnostic process (e.g., the extent of support). The model is discussed considering the psychological literature on fault diagnosis, and first insights are provided that show how the model can be used to predict requirements of diagnostic reasoning beyond the two domains studied here.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1045
JournalMachines : open access journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-1577-8566/work/147674602
Scopus 85180691128
Mendeley cd674ebf-5a9a-3347-8ba4-16ab10cbaaeb



  • cognitive requirements, domain characteristics, domain comparison, fault diagnosis, knowledge requirements