Early diagnosis of gear transmission has been a significant challenge, because gear faults occur primarily at microstructure or even material level but their effects can only be observed indirectly at a system level. The performance of a gear fault diagnosis system depends significantly on the features extracted and the classifier subsequently applied. Traditionally, fault-related features are extracted and identified based on domain expertise through data preprocessing which are system-specific and may not be easily generalized. On the other hand, although recently the deep neural networks based approaches featuring adaptive feature extractions and inherent classifications have attracted attention, they usually require a substantial set of training data. Aiming at tackling these issues, this paper presents a deep convolutional neural network-based transfer learning approach. The proposed transfer learning architecture consists of two parts; the first part is constructed with a pre-trained deep neural network that serves to extract the features automatically from the input, and the second part is a fully connected stage to classify the features that needs to be trained using gear fault experimental data. Case analyses using experimental data from a benchmark gear system indicate that the proposed approach not only entertains preprocessing free adaptive feature extractions, but also requires only a small set of training data.
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