The role of artificial intelligence-driven soft sensors in advanced sustainable process industries: A critical review

Yasith S. Perera, D.a.a.c. Ratnaweera, Chamila H. Dasanayaka, Chamil Abeykoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the predicted depletion of natural resources and alarming environmental issues, sustainable development has become a popular as well as a much-needed concept in modern process industries. Hence, manufacturers are quite keen on adopting novel process monitoring techniques to enhance product quality and process efficiency while minimizing possible adverse environmental impacts. Hardware sensors are employed in process industries to aid process monitoring and control, but they are associated with many limitations such as disturbances to the process flow, measurement delays, frequent need for maintenance, and high capital costs. As a result, soft sensors have become an attractive alternative for predicting quality-related parameters that are ‘hard-to-measure’ using hardware sensors. Due to their promising features over hardware counterparts, they have been employed across different process industries. This article attempts to explore the state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (Al)-driven soft sensors designed for process industries and their role in achieving the goal of sustainable development. First, a general introduction is given to soft sensors, their applications in different process industries, and their significance in achieving sustainable development goals. AI-based soft sensing algorithms are then introduced. Next, a discussion on how AI-driven soft sensors contribute toward different sustainable manufacturing strategies of process industries is provided. This is followed by a critical review of the most recent state-of-the-art AI-based soft sensors reported in the literature. Here, the use of powerful AI-based algorithms for addressing the limitations of traditional algorithms, that restrict the soft sensor performance is discussed. Finally, the challenges and limitations associated with the current soft sensor design, application, and maintenance aspects are discussed with possible future directions for designing more intelligent and smart soft sensing technologies to cater the future industrial needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105988
JournalEngineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
Early online date11 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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