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Machine failure. Unplanned downtime. Emergency shutdown. No matter what it’s called, each of these phrases is always unwelcome by any maintenance team or building owner. But it’s a reality that facilities managers frequently have to deal with.

In order to minimize the risks of equipment shutdown, maintenance teams often turn to proactive strategies that can help them identify and rectify problems before they are blown out of proportion. With the power of proactive thinking combined with continuous advancements in technology, many advanced maintenance techniques are now available, especially for monitoring mission-critical and complex assets.

Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) is one of these proactive maintenance strategies that relies on the monitoring of an asset’s baseline functioning metrics to identify any potential problems before they start.

This article will discuss Condition Based Maintenance, including the benefits, disadvantages, and best practices for implementation.

What is Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM)?

Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) is an advanced and proactive maintenance strategy that monitors the current condition of assets in real-time to get information about when maintenance needs to happen.

By allowing facilities teams to track specific equipment parameters such as pressure, temperature, mileage, or vibration, Condition-Based Maintenance guides them on how to get maintenance frequency just right for their critical assets. Performing maintenance on critical assets based on current data as provided by CBM results in the optimization of a facilities team’s key maintenance resources.

Condition-Based Maintenance works by collecting information on the condition of an asset either continuously or in set intervals. The indicators tracked will vary depending on the nature of machinery but usually, this information is gathered through non-invasive measurements, performance data, and inspections.

IoT sensors can also be configured to do external monitoring of the asset, or some machines come with built-in internal sensors. When drastic measurement changes are noticed in certain equipment parameters, this notifies maintenance teams to assess whether an asset needs an inspection or repair.

Considering that this is a proactive type of maintenance strategy, Condition-Based Maintenance significantly reduces unplanned equipment downtime or asset failure. Maintenance managers are able to track the pulse of the machine and provide service before the asset deteriorates beyond a repairable state.

What is a Condition-Based Maintenance Workflow?

In a Condition-Based Maintenance workflow, the initial triggering event of the workflow is the breach of a baseline condition for an asset as identified through some sort of monitoring process. The breach triggers a work order, which leads to maintenance service being performed on the equipment.

In order to set up this type of workflow, a few key decisions need to be made beforehand. First, a team of experts and decision-makers need to determine the conditional thresholds for each asset, that when exceeded, would indicate the need for machine servicing. These indicator levels should be based on key functioning metrics for the equipment.

Then, it is important to determine how these metrics will be measured on a regular basis. Equipment conditions can be checked through different tests, visual inspections or data collected by monitor sensors that have been installed to interact with the equipment.

With the proper thresholds determined and a condition assessment system in place, a Condition-Based workflow is now ready to begin.

What is the Difference Between Condition-Based Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance, and Planned Maintenance?

Condition-Based Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance, and Planned Maintenance are all different types of preventative maintenance – the type of proactive maintenance that occurs before machine breakdown instead of reactive maintenance that merely responds to machine breakdown. However, there are key differences between these different types of preventative maintenance that should be considered:

The major difference between Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) and Planned Maintenance (PM), is that whereas maintenance is performed on assets based on predetermined calendar intervals in Planned Maintenance, maintenance is only performed on a machine after indicators reach a threshold that signals a decrease in equipment condition in Condition-Based Maintenance.

Thus, while PM may be more comprehensive and thorough, CBM may save more time and money because maintenance only happens on an as-needed basis and thus is conducted less frequently than in the case of planned maintenance.

The key difference between Condition-Based Maintenance and Predictive Maintenance is that Condition-Based Maintenance relies on conditional thresholds based on tangible machine measurements to trigger maintenance, while Predictive Maintenance uses complex AI formulas in combination with conditional measurements to predict exactly when in the future a machine is going to need maintenance.

This means that while Condition-Based Maintenance may be easier to implement, Predictive Maintenance is a more accurate strategy for precise maintenance timing.

The Benefits of Condition-Based Maintenance

There are many benefits that come with implementing a Condition-Based Maintenance plan. The real-time monitoring of assets that is at the heart of Condition-Based Maintenance ensures that essential maintenance is being conducted on equipment before performance drops, but in a calculated and strategic manner so that machines are not being over-serviced.

The resulting benefits of a Condition-Based Maintenance Plan are many, of which include:

  • Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Reduced time and money spent on maintenance
  • Reduced inventory costs
  • Reduced amount of equipment downtime and/or failure
  • Increased equipment lifespan
  • Increased machine productivity and performance
  • Increased machine reliability
  • Increased worker safety

Further, Condition-Based Maintenance can be extremely beneficial in industries that have zero allowance for failure, such as the aviation industry.

The Drawbacks of Condition-Based Maintenance

While there are many benefits that come with implementing a Condition-Based Maintenance Plan, there are some key drawbacks that need to be considered as well. Condition-Based Maintenance is a complex and comprehensive system that will have initial costs that need to be taken in order to reap the benefits in the long run.

Some drawbacks to consider with Condition-Based Maintenance include:

  • Considerable time and intellectual resources are needed to plan and execute a proper Condition-Based Maintenance strategy that fits the specific needs of an organization.
  • Choosing the best monitoring systems for equipment and assets can be challenging and time-consuming.
  • Considerable costs come with buying and installing the right condition monitoring tools.
  • Additional costs arise when monitoring equipment needs to be modified or replaced.
  • Considerable time and money are needed to thoroughly train maintenance teams on how to use the monitoring equipment and how to execute the Condition-Based Maintenance workflow.
  • Additional investments may need to be made in order to best implement a Condition-Based Maintenance workflow – such as by purchasing a CMMS software solution.

How to Implement a Condition-Based Maintenance Program

A Condition-Based Maintenance program provides many organizations and companies with an excellent way to monitor and take care of their assets. However, it is key to understand that it takes a considerable amount of planning and preparation in order to successfully implement a Condition-Based Maintenance program.

The time and costs for implementation will vary for each organization, and will depend on the number and type of assets, the complexity of the assets, and how fast a maintenance team can adjust to the new program. For many teams, it can be a slow start when transitioning from old systems to new systems, especially when it involves an increase in technological features. This means that patience and precise execution will be key throughout the entire implementation process.

Condition-Based Maintenance Implementation Checklist

Before a maintenance team can carry out a Condition-Based Maintenance plan, they need to make sure they have everything it takes. The non-negotiable essentials needed for implementation include:

  • A maintenance manager and/or team of experts that best understands the assets, how to monitor them, and how to interpret the data and corresponding maintenance needs
  • A willing and open-minded facilities team that will put in the effort it takes to learn and adjust to the changes in their maintenance system and workflow
  • A proper training system that ensures that key facilities staff understand how the CBM system and technology work and how to read sensors and use the monitoring tools
  • High-quality condition monitoring sensors and tools
  • A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software solution that will track and analyze data coming from machine sensors and connect the data to the maintenance workflow

Condition-Based Maintenance Implementation Steps

Once an organization is ready to move forward with a CBM plan, it is important to carry out the implementation process for Condition-Based Maintenance in a series of steps:

1. Select the assets that will be monitored.

A successful CBM program starts with an asset-criticality assessment to help identify the most critical assets. When deciding which assets to include in the CBM plan, it is important to concentrate on assets that are the costliest to repair and the most important to organizational success.

2. Identify asset failure modes.

After deciding on which assets to include in the CBM plan, it is important to determine the failure modes – or the different possible ways of equipment failure – for each asset.

This can be done by conducting a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) analysis, a form of potential failure analysis that focuses on preserving system functions rather than the equipment itself.

3. Choose the proper asset monitoring parameters.

After asset failure modes are established, a maintenance team should select the parameters that will be used to detect each failure mode early enough to allow for repair before functional failure occurs.

There are the various parameters that condition-monitoring sensors can use to track each failure mode in a machine. The most common ones include vibration, oil analysis, infrared, acoustics, electrical current, temperature, and pressure.

4. Determine condition thresholds and purchase monitoring tools.

Upon selecting the appropriate parameters, it is time to determine the condition thresholds that signify the initial deterioration of an asset. It is important to make sure these thresholds are set so that there is enough time to perform maintenance before equipment failure.

After these limits have been set, a facilities team should purchase the monitoring tools and sensors that will best measure selected parameters and limits for each asset.

5. Establish the Condition-Based Maintenance System within a CMMS.

Collecting and recording measurements for each asset, and creating corresponding maintenance work orders, lies at the center of a Condition-Based Maintenance Plan. In order to do this realistically and successfully, there needs to be a software that collects the monitoring data and connects it to the facilities team workflow.

A modern computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) like Axxerion CMMS easily collects and analyzes asset monitoring data and then incorporates it into customized maintenance workflows.

The Bottom Line

If implemented carefully and thoroughly, condition-based maintenance helps reduce operational costs, improve safety, and minimize asset downtime. The large amounts of optimization that result from a strong condition-based maintenance plan will improve equipment reliability and minimize the amount of time spent on maintenance.

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Want to learn more about how a CMMS can help you carry out a condition-based maintenance program? The Axxerion team is waiting to guide you through the process and answer any questions you might have in a free demo.

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