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Fueled by competition and the desire to make the best decisions possible, companies are fully invested in the data revolution. Condition-based monitoring (CbM) has become an effective way to enhance machine-based systems using rock-solid operational data – especially for companies focused on improving safety and reliability.

When properly implemented, the methods used in your condition monitoring program can become manpower multipliers that allow you to make better use of your maintenance team’s time. 

Read on to find out how to implement a high-impact CbM program within your organization.


What is Condition Monitoring?  

At its heart, condition monitoring involves gathering a complete picture of equipment characteristics at multiple industrial process steps to ultimately improve equipment performance.  

It uses a system of computers and sensitive instruments to track the health of a set of machines by measuring vibration, heat, strain, and other characteristics.  

Scheduled equipment condition measurements are compared to established optimal parameters to identify areas of concern and improvement. This allows for data-driven decision-making that can improve every level of the organization.

Components of a Monitoring System  

Condition monitoring systems have a set of elements in common. These systems can have an array of condition-monitoring sensors that mount in one way or another to the machines under consideration.  

Monitoring systems have a process for displaying their sensor data and calculations to the company’s relevant employees. Alarm features are often included to alert key personnel that areas of the machine or process have measurements outside the established thresholds and corrective action should be taken. 

Benefits of Condition Monitoring Systems  

Condition monitoring systems can produce a significant return on investment. Benefits can include: 

  • Optimizing equipment performance and uptime. 
  • Reducing maintenance costs by identifying issues before functional failure. 
  • Eliminating, minimizing, or delaying time-based preventative maintenance procedures. 
  • Managing risk tied to operator safety, equipment damage, and lost products.


Technologies to Consider for Condition Monitoring

Like most maintenance programs, technology can boost operational efficiencies and make things easier for your team. When implementing new tech into your CbM program, ensure they are properly integrated, secure, and aligned with your organization’s safety policies and procedures. 

Here are a few to consider:  

  • Temperature measurement: Collect surface or fluid temperature from select locations of a machine to identify developing thermal problems.  
  • Motor Testing (MCE/MCA): Evaluate the present condition of static or dynamic motors and generators by analyzing the current flow through the motor.    
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasonic inspection of rotating equipment and leak detection for compressed gas or vacuum systems. 
  • Infrared thermography: Identify and analyze thermal anomalies or hot spots indicative of developing problems in electrical and mechanical systems.  
  • Vibration analysis: Collect vibration data on rotating equipment at critical locations and frequencies to identify developing bearing, alignment, or anchoring issues. Targeting vibrations on a machine to determine potential failure points and the need to replace older systems.  
  • Fluid Sampling: A periodic sampling of lubrication oils to determine the condition of the oil and provide insight into the health of the machine being lubricated.  


Six Ways to Identify the Best Assets for Condition Monitoring

How do you know which assets to focus on when implementing new condition-monitoring practices?

Here is a short list of considerations:  

  • Failure modes: Potential ways a component or system can fail.  
  • Time to failure: How quickly would a system reach functional failure after a specific problem type is identified? 
  • RPM: The revolutions per minute or the speed of a rotating component within your system, such as a motor or gearbox. Higher RPM and duty cycle increase the risk of problems and shorten functional failure time.   
  • Environment: Your system’s conditions can greatly affect its reliability. Temperature variations, humidity, ambient vibration, and process contamination must be considered when considering assets for condition monitoring.  
  • Access: Is an asset difficult or not safe to approach to collect data manually? Is this asset a candidate for permanently mounted sensors? If an asset component that is not monitored fails, is it difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to replace it? 
  • Asset Criticality: Does the asset support a critical process? If the asset fails, does it impact the entire output of the system?   


Three Approaches to Condition-Based Monitoring  

Depending on your organizational setup and objectives, there are different condition-based monitoring approaches to consider. Here are a few we’ve helped implement for our global clients:  

  • Route-based / Manual data collection is a cost-effective and flexibleapproachfor your technicians to identify problems with equipment before it results in unplanned downtime. This process assesses the health and performance of your equipment periodically while your technician follows a planned route based on the criticality of the equipment. 
  • Continuous online monitoring is a technique that collects real-time data on physical and operational characteristics. A combination of sensors and instruments is installed on the equipment to collect data and identify potential deviations from normal operating conditions. For facilities that operate 24/7, this is a widely accepted approach. 
  • A Hybrid method combines the benefits of a route-based and a continuous online monitoring program. A manual approach is utilized for easily accessible and lower sampling frequency assets. Online monitoring is utilized for the assets that require higher frequency data sampling and may be difficult to access. 


Ultimate Data Control with ViewPoint 

When implementing new CM policies and procedures, proper data capture is key. SEAM Group offers ViewPoint, a simple, scalable technology platform used by customers across multiple industries, including distribution, logistics, hospitality, manufacturing, electric vehicle charging, data centers, food service, building management, and more.

ViewPoint includes a new carbon reduction analytics feature that gives customers access to environmental insights, helping them discover connections between their condition monitoring activities, operations, and sustainability initiatives.  

Since being implemented as a solution for SEAM Group customers, ViewPoint has been used by thousands of registered users and generated more than $1 billion in downtime cost savings by identifying and correcting issues quicker. 

Customers use ViewPoint as a multi-disciplined solution combining and analyzing data gathered from infrared, vibration, oil, ultrasound, and motor current testing, as well as safety services like arc flash hazards analysis and digital lockout/tagout programs. ViewPoint supports data management for one or hundreds of facilities and enables multiple users personalized levels of access – helping you truly level up your CM program effectiveness.


Comprehensive Condition-Based Monitoring Solutions  

Condition-based monitoring is a critical component of asset health. If you’re ready to learn more about implementing a wide range of offerings, from vibration analysis to asset performance management, SEAM Group is the right partner for you.

Call 866.772.6770 for more information.

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