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The five-step guide to condition-based maintenance


By Simon Jagers


As the name suggests, condition-based maintenance (CBM) involves performing maintenance based on the condition of the asset. Organizations actively monitor the health of each individual piece of equipment by collecting real-time data. Artificial intelligence (AI) is then used to interpret that data and determine when the asset is likely to break or fail. Armed with this information, maintenance personnel can schedule maintenance well before the asset fails, maximizing production uptime.

The following five steps will help you determine whether CBM is right for your organization, which type of CBM you require, and what to look out for when implementing CBM.

1. Choose the right assets

The first step is to determine which assets are most suitable for this maintenance strategy. Not all assets are suitable for CBM. For example, a non-critical asset where a component can be replaced quickly might be better served by a different maintenance strategy.

To begin with, choose an asset for which it will be fairly easy to quickly achieve positive results. This will help to grow confidence in CBM within your organization.

2. Measure, measure, measure

Once you’ve decided which of your assets are suitable for condition-based maintenance, you need to determine how you’ll measure those assets’ condition. As noted above, CBM often requires the use of sensors, which can measure a variety of metrics including temperature, vibrations, CO2 content and electricity.

Two of the more widely used sensor types are vibration and current sensors, which themselves differ in terms of application and effectiveness. For example, current sensors can detect both mechanical and electrical problems, while vibration sensors are mainly limited to the mechanical aspect.

One other significant difference between these two sensor types is that vibration sensors must be placed directly on the asset in the field, while current sensors can monitor equipment from within the motor control cabinet. The latter is quite attractive for many organizations, as sensors in the field can be subjected to a variety of conditions; for example, extremely high or low temperatures, which can cause sensors to fail or to provide unreliable data. Sensor modules installed inside the motor control cabinet are located in a temperate, dry room—ideal conditions for collecting reliable data. To learn more about the differences between these two types of sensor, click here.

3. Choose the right business model

In addition to the choice of assets and tools, the underlying business model is an important factor to consider. There are usually two distinct options: either a one-off fee, or a subscription model.

The most significant downside of the one-off purchase model is that the customer will probably not receive future product upgrades (unless they pay for them). In rapidly growing field like condition monitoring, where technology is constantly improving, restricted access to future product improvements can severely hamper your ability to establish a competitive edge. Conversely, a subscription model will usually afford product updates at no added cost, helping your operation to stay competitive.

Subscription models also usually require a smaller short-term investment than one-off purchases, which in turn makes it easier to get your CBM project off the ground.

4. Create support within the organization

Implementing condition-based maintenance may require some changes in the way your maintenance team operates. That’s why it’s important to generate support for your CBM program from all those involved. Innovation leaders need to explain how the technology will directly benefit each stakeholder’s KPIs.

For example, when talking with a maintenance manager, the innovation leader should emphasize the fact that CBM will help the maintenance team to schedule maintenance more effectively. When talking with the production manager, the innovation leader should emphasize the fact that CBM will reduce the number of downtime events, and therefore boost productivity and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness).

5. Get started

CBM provides several benefits, including the reduction of unplanned downtime, fewer routine equipment inspections and the optimization of inventory planning through accurate insights into which new parts are needed and when.

Don’t wait too long; not investing in CBM on time could leave your organization at a disadvantage. A reported 20-40% of maintenance engineers will retire in the next five years, and the supply of new talent can’t keep up with demand. So any tools that can help your maintenance professionals put their expertise to more efficient use will stand you in good stead for the future.

Want to learn more about condition-based maintenance? Book a demo today.


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