How to Successfully Switch to a Condition Based Monitoring System

Condition-based monitoring (CBM) is the backbone for plant reliability, maintenance, and overall function. With condition monitoring, plants have the capacity to understand the health of the assets, allowing practitioners to understand machine availability and capacity. This foresight also prevent asset failures, unplanned downtime, and determine the timing and the type of maintenance that will be required.

However, not all plant organizations have a condition-based monitoring system in place. This inhibits their knowledge of asset health in real time and reduces their ability to take proactive measures. When switching to a CBM system, there are important steps that need to be implemented.

The Objective of Condition Based Monitoring Systems

Before looking at the best ways to integrate a CBM system, it’s important to understand the major objectives.

First and foremost, proactive intervention.

Condition-based maintenance is a strategic approach to re-calibrating performance and monitoring activities. It uses sensors to collect real-time data that identifies when an asset’s performance or condition reaches an undesirable level. When paired with a Computerized  Monitoring Management System (CMMS), this data can generate a maintenance work order, allowing technicians to respond quickly with higher quality and consistency in repair actions. 

Automation and Working with Large Teams

When operating with a full-scale workforce, it can be easy for confusion and errors to occur within maintenance team assignments, work orders, parts orders and delivery, and more. 

With the average development costs for companies ever-increasing, it’s important for plant managers to re-evaluate how they automate, scale and manage the resources and tools within their plant. CBM systems offer streamlined yet flexible processes that optimizes teams’ efficiency, minimizing their deliberation, down time and unnecessary repairs. 

Uniformity in Metrics

Another objective of a condition-based monitoring system is to keep data and stats consistent over time, across various projects and different architectural designs. In order to manage and organize data effectively and efficiently, it should be simple to analyze at all levels of the plant, from the operator to the monitor, to maintenance and beyond. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Condition Monitoring System

Before choosing a Condition-based monitoring system, it’s important to consider the key factors that may influence your decision. There are now many wireless choices to review when searching for a system to fit your needs.  Any CBM system you choose will involve these three major steps:

1) capturing sensor data

2) communicating data

3) performing maintenance work

When choosing a CBM system, make sure you consider the following capabilities:

Data Captured

Not all sensors capture or report the same information. For example, sensors may capture OA, or Overall Value only, which is a value of vibration measured at the sensor. These types of sensors might not be great at diagnosing the problem or the severity. Other sensors capture a full-time waveform (TWF). These can diagnose the problem and ensure both a timely and informative strategy. 

Installation and Maintenance

A simple installation is always better than a timely and complicated endeavor. Wireless sensors have the upper hand in this category.  Your supplier can help you understand the installation requirements and process.

Required Expertise

In order to install, maintain, and interpret sensor data, in-depth technical knowledge and trained staff are required. Reviewing CBM systems and the education required for them could be a determining factor for your plant.

Power Input

This can be determined by preference or architecture. You can choose from battery-powered, wireless options (non-replaceable and replaceable) or standard power cord connections. 

Overall, an effective CBM system should monitor vital conditions of an asset such as temperature, vibration, pressure and humidity. In terms of plant operations, a CBM system should minimize overall plant management costs and improve the maintenance structure.

The Importance of Installing a CBM System

A common objective and challenge for maintenance and engineering managers is to balance efficiency improvement goals while reducing cost. Most facilities operate continuously, so there is little to no time or resources for unplanned downtime or reduced reliability. Machine availability is crucial for meeting bottom lines. For any plant, recovery is often expensive and time-consuming. Yet, many of these companies rely on reactive maintenance.

Reactive maintenance is essentially ‘run to fail’, and while it might cost less on the surface, this basic strategy can result in significant downtime, reduced productivity, and higher repair or replacement costs. CBM is a form of proactive or predictive maintenance. Converting from a reactive method to a proactive method can be challenging, yet rewarding.

Condition-based maintenance is a maintenance strategy within which the current of assets is closely monitored to ensure peak performance at all times. Measuring symptoms to uncover the causes of faults and prevent them from becoming a regular occurrence. Condition-based maintenance involves various techniques and data reading including visual inspections, thermal monitoring, vibration monitoring, ultrasonic monitoring, and oil monitoring. These inspections require specialist equipment and training to read correctly.

Initially, yes there is an investment cost of time and money when switching to a proactive maintenance system. It involves in-depth planning and management to ensure the time and effort put into implementation is sustainable. Unlike reactive maintenance that only addresses equipment at the point of failure, proactive maintenance involves four strategies that can be mixed and matched or used altogether. These four strategies are breakdown maintenance, planned/preventative maintenance, condition-based maintenance, and design out. Time and funds must be invested to determine what combination of strategies is best for your plant and produces the optimum results of cost and productivity, availability and reliability. While this may seem like a lengthy task, the benefits of switching to a CBM system significantly outweigh the initial outlay.

The Benefits of Switching to a CBM System

With the right technologies and training, condition-based monitoring provides crucial insights to identify machine malfunctions and prevent or delay equipment failure. If maintenance is required, it can be scheduled as soon as or even before it becomes a significant production problem. This is why specially-trained technicians are needed to understand readings, asset failure rates, and degradability. 

Condition monitoring analyzes potential failure modes, their indicators, and monitors various signals from the asset. This gives practitioners the ability to get to the root causes of small problems before they become significant and serious. This is the philosophy of condition-based monitoring. 

Reduced Required Maintenance Time: Similarly to reactive maintenance, Condition-based maintenance is performed as needed so maintenance professionals can optimize the use of their time. Unlike reactive maintenance, the health of the asset is usually far better with CBM because this method helps cut the time it takes to complete routes. Rather than making serious, time-consuming alterations, most condition-based maintenance is quickly and simply done. CBM also increases the chances of identifying and quickly reacting to the sudden spikes or drops in condition levels that often go unnoticed and lead to decreased asset performance or outright failure.

Decreased Asset Downtime: CBM can read and register specific failure modes if configured correctly. This is a key benefit for the maintenance team as it allows them to quickly diagnose possible causes, and respond faster. Also, CBM systems can run diagnostics and provide measurements without shutting down the piece of equipment or halting production. Overall, CBM reduces the downtime to fix an issue. This allows practitioners to:

  • Easily get accurate measurements from machines
  • diagnose individual machine issues
  • monitor assets/machines on-site
  • avoid potentially unsafe working conditions

Minimal Disruption of Production: With faster maintenance and reduced downtime, the production of an asset can remain high. Many times, maintenance required by condition-based monitoring can be rectified without shutting down equipment, ensuring maximum availability for production.

Decreased Likeliness of Complete Failure: Condition-monitoring sensors can identify problems the moment they happen, allowing technicians to respond quickly before more significant problems occur.

The other major benefits of condition-based monitoring include:

Reducing waste, safety hazards and incidents, and environmental impact. 

Technical and industrial plant industries work with large, multiplex machines that require regular monitoring and maintenance. Condition-based monitoring covers every piece and stage of an asset. From installation onward, it provides a company with the ability to maximize the use of its assets. While failure can happen, it is important to be avoided.

When You Have Questions or Need Help with Your CBM System, MOBIUS CONNECT Can Help!

Condition-based monitoring is important to the overall production and success of your plant as it helps to reduce costs of maintenance, care, and unavailable assets. When you need more assistance with or have questions about your condition monitoring system, or if you’re a CBM technician that is looking to learn more about the latest CBM news, sign up for your free MOBIUS CONNECT account. 

MOBIUS CONNECT is the one-stop mobile app for education and information-sharing about condition-monitoring, reliability, and other key factors of the industrial industry. The Mobius Institute saw a critical need for professionals and practitioners in these complex career fields to connect, share, and learn - thus, MOBIUS CONNECT was created. You can find answers to your questions via forums, articles, live streams, and much more. Visit www.mobiusconnect.com to find out more!

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