The following five steps will help you determine whether condition-based maintenance is right for your organization, which type you require, and what to look out for during implementation.
As the name suggests, condition-based maintenance 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 using sensors. 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 first step is to determine which assets are most suitable for condition-based maintenance, as not all assets are suitable. For example, a non-critical asset where a component can be replaced quickly might be better served by a different maintenance strategy (such as corrective maintenance).
To begin with, choose a range of assets for which it will be fairly easy to quickly achieve positive results. The more of these assets you can identify and monitor, the greater the positive result will be. This will help to grow confidence in condition-based maintenance within your organization.
Once you’ve decided which of your assets are suitable, you need to determine how you’ll measure those assets’ condition. As noted above, condition-based maintenance 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.
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 a 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 condition-based maintenance project off the ground.
Implementing condition-based maintenance may require some changes in the way your team operates. That’s why it’s important to generate support for your project from all those involved. It’s important to showcase how the technology will directly benefit each stakeholder’s KPIs. For example, when talking to the:
- maintenance manager, you should emphasize the fact that a move from a preventive maintenance system to a condition-based one will ultimately enable maintenance resources to be deployed more efficiently. Rather than scheduling maintenance preventatively, which often results in the unnecessary replacement of perfectly functional assets, condition-based maintenance systems give teams foresight into which assets are developing faults (and even what those faults are). This enables maintenance teams to focus on fixing/replacing faulty assets, rather than replacing healthy ones.
- production manager, explain how condition-based maintenance will reduce the number of downtime events, which will in turn help the organization to consistently meet production targets.
- health and safety officer, highlight that fact that if the maintenance team has the insights needed to fix/replace faulty assets long before the asset breaks, potentially dangerous situations can be avoided. For example, if a pump transporting hazardous sewage were to break, this could become a threat to employee safety.
- innovation manager, identify how the system uses cutting edge technology which will contribute to the digital transformation of the organization. Some systems (like SAM4) also use the machine data acquired to help maintenance teams detect and remedy assets that are running inefficiently, therefore helping to improve the sustainability of the organization – which is an important KPI for innovation managers.
Condition-based maintenance provides several benefits to a range of different stakeholders, and it’s important to support that with clear results. A delayed or prolonged implementation period can make it difficult to paint a positive picture of your project. Through a fast and effective implementation, you can keep enthusiasm for the project at a high while quickly collecting evidence that the project is ROI positive. So ensure to work closely with the technology provider to ensure a smooth implementation.
And don’t wait too long to sign on the dotted line; not investing in condition-based maintenance 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.
After 6 months to a year you should have a clear picture of the assets in your organization that benefit from a condition-based maintenance strategy (and have a list of successes to back it up). At this point it is worth examining where similar assets and processes exist in your organization, with a view to scaling up your implementation and increasing the value across the organization.
Download the condition monitoring technology comparison guide below. The guide contains:
- the historical development and inner workings of popular condition monitoring techniques
- how each technique fares in terms of sensor technology, sensor location (incl. performance in harsh environments), fault detection (incl. fault types and failure warning times), and energy and performance insights
- the key differences between each technique, presented in a handy quick reference summary table
Fill in the form to download the guide.