Condition-Based Maintenance, where to start?

SSG Insight
  • Published date: 20 June 2024
  • Author: Michael Edwards

Condition-Based Maintenance or CBM is everywhere at the moment and organisations are constantly talking about how it is transforming how they maintain their assets. But often customers and prospective customers will talk to the SSG Insight team about how to go about it. So if you’re thinking about CBM and where to start, here’s a bit of a beginners guide based on experience from across our global team and our customer.

Let’s begin with what it means…

In a nutshell, CBM uses real-time data to predict when maintenance should be performed. It involves a proactive approach to support you to minimise downtime, reduce costs, and extend the life of your equipment.

In our opinion, CBM does not come instead of following a rigid schedule, CBM goes hand in hand with scheduled servicing. Servicing your assets helps to maintain maximum uptime and efficiency whilst CBM can help to identify potential issues inbetween scheduled services that can then fixed there and then to avoid potential failure occuring. In addition, it can help to define and update service routines for specific assets, utilising the insight from CBM to inform your decisions on asset quality and care.

To go a step further, CBM relies on continuous or periodic monitoring of asset conditions to make maintenance decisions. Key parameters like vibration, temperature, and oil quality are monitored to detect signs of wear or failure. This approach helps in taking timely action, avoiding unnecessary maintenance, and preventing unexpected breakdowns.
Sounds simple enough right? But how do you implement it? Here are our Top 7 Tips to get you started:

1.Identify Critical Assets
Start by identifying which assets are critical to your operations. Perhaps you are already aware of this, but we suggest focusing on equipment that:

  • Has a high impact on production if it fails
  • Involves high repair or replacement costs
  • Shows a history of frequent breakdowns

2. Select Appropriate Monitoring Techniques
This is where we tend to get a few more questions in terms of what monitoring techniques to use, and we recommend that you base this on the type of asset and the potential failure modes so it could vary from equipment to equipment. The most common are:

  • Vibration Analysis: Ideal for rotating machinery like motors and pumps
  • Temperature Monitoring: Suitable for components where heat is an indicator of performance issues, such as bearings, electrical equipment, and engines
  • Pressure Monitoring: Essential for systems where pressure levels are critical, such as hydraulic systems, compressors, and boilers
  • Oil Analysis: Useful for machinery with lubrication systems

3. Deploy Sensors and Monitoring Tools
There are many sensors and monitoring tools out there, we work with a few and they integration with Agility CMMS so we would be happy to make some recommendations. Modern sensors vary, most can be connected wirelessly for example, but it is worth reviewing the different available specs and how you install them, before you make a purchase.
In terms of deployment, you’ll need to install them on your critical assets and make sure they are positioned correctly for accurate data collection. It helps to inform all staff that they are there, so you don’t end up with one being moved by mistake, we’ve known a few to get moved and send data through the roof so best to avoid a panic moment!

4. Integrate a CMMS
Managing the data you collect from your condition monitoring tools is of course vital, and a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) like Agility, can support you with this. Ensure your provider can like Agility, support the following:

  • Data Integration: Collecting and organising data from various monitoring systems
  • Automated Alerts: Setting thresholds for parameters and generates alerts when conditions deviate from normal
  • Maintenance Scheduling: Scheduling maintenance activities based on the condition data rather than fixed intervals
  • Historical Analysis: Maintaining a history of asset conditions and maintenance actions for trend analysis

5. Analyse Data and Set Thresholds
Once you have your data, and again this is another area where we often get asked for support, how do you analyse it? We recommend establishing baseline conditions and setting thresholds for example, defining acceptable ranges for vibration levels or temperatures. You can use historical data if you have any or build this up over time, use manufacturer guidelines, and there are various ISO standards available, to help you determine these thresholds. We’re taking a look at ISO standards for this in our next article.

6. Implement and Review
One of the things we always recommend is starting small, set up a bit of a pilot programme on a few critical assets and see how it goes. You can review the results and make necessary adjustments to the monitoring setup, the thresholds, etc. From there you will have a base to work from and you can gradually expand your CBM programme to other assets based on your insights and learnings so far.

7. Train Your Team
Sounds like an obvious one but as we’ve said above, we’ve heard more than one story where sensors were moved by mistake or pulled off by someone thinking “what is this?” and then put back in a slightly different position! Ensuring your team understand that the sensors are there, and why, as well as how to use the condition monitoring data, are all key to making your CBM a success. Your team should be able to interpret the data as well as understand the alerts, and of course be able to take appropriate actions when needed.
Ensure your maintenance team is trained to understand and use the condition monitoring data. They should be able to interpret the data, understand the alerts, and take appropriate maintenance actions.

In conclusion, you will need a systematic approach to asset monitoring and data management to start your Condition-based Maintenance. Integrating a CMMS like Agility with your CBM program will streamline the process, making it easier to manage, analyse, and act on the data. By focusing on critical assets and continuously reviewing and adjusting your program, you can achieve significant improvements in maintenance efficiency and asset reliability. Look out for our next CBM focused article which talks about navigating standards and benchmars for readings…

For more information about how the SSG Insight global team support customers worldwide with their Condition-Based Maintenance through our software and services, please contact us today. Our team would welcome the opportunity to talk about the specifics of your organisation and what you are looking to achieve through your CBM.

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