The machine condition-monitoring market is expected to grow from $2.38 billion this year to $3.5 billion by 2024, according to the MarketsandMarkets, mainly due to the increased availability of condition monitoring sensors and the growing number organizations looking to implement advanced maintenance strategies like Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) and Predictive Maintenance. For such projects, the right preparation is half the battle.
CBM is an aspect of "predictive maintenance" that relies on monitoring and networking technologies; it’s sometimes known as "Condition-Based Monitoring." CBM maintenance is the procedure that follows when indicators show critical equipment performance is declining or nearing a catastrophic incident.
The best way to ensure the successful implementation of Condition-Based Maintenance is to understand the challenges and pitfalls that companies may face when first deploying this maintenance strategy.
High upfront costs — Implementing CBM can be expensive because it requires the machine operators to install condition-monitoring sensors to measure degradation, which can be particularly costly if you need to retrofit them on some old assets.
This doesn’t mean that CBM is not for you, only that you should determine which equipment will give the highest returns on this investment. Carefully select which assets will get CBM based on asset criticalities, such as safety, environmental and operational impact, and failure rates of the equipment.
In case you do not have the in-house expertise necessary for this analysis, consult an expert who can help you make the most cost-effective strategy using failure modes, effects, and criticality analysis (FMEA) and RCM analysis.
Another challenge you may face is choosing the right condition-monitoring sensors, as you will have to ensure that it will be able to cope with the operating conditions and help your company’s bottom line.
Of course, you can’t get those sensors for free, which is another reason that the initial implementation cost may seem high.
Training the staff — While the sensor readings will give you a real-time insight into the condition of your equipment and warn you of upcoming failures, that information will be useless if your staff cannot react to it in a timely fashion. Each detection of a fault may trigger some questions:
• Does a part need to be replaced?
• Is it in stock?
• How long do we have before the equipment reaches functional failure?
• Does the replacement need to be done by a vendor?
To make the most of your CBM strategy, train your employees so that they are able to use the technology effectively and leverage the intelligence to make informed decisions.
Keep in mind that this is an added expense, and it may involve pulling some employees from normal duties in order to train them.
Along with training, effective "change management" is crucial to help your business fully benefit from CBM. Change management consists of activities and steps you can take to help your organization and team adapt to changes in a technology and workflow.
Operating conditions — The accuracy and performance of condition-monitoring sensors sometimes depend on the environment and operating conditions in which they are installed. In harsh operating conditions, the sensors may not work properly or they may even get damaged, so it is a good idea to double-check the results from time to time, when you know the conditions are not perfect. For example, in some plants, high heat and humidity levels affect electronics, while in others corrosive chemicals may damage sensors or other components that help you get the accurate readings.
Because sensors play a critical role, you should evaluate the various options available and get the appropriate sensors that take into account both the type of equipment you’re using it on and the operating conditions they have to endure.
The unpredictable volume of maintenance work — Unlike scheduled periodic maintenance, maintenance work based on a CBM strategy is carried out whenever the sensors warn you about impending equipment failure. Unpredictable maintenance periods will cause costs to be divided unequally, so you need to factor this into your annual budget.
For instance, it is possible that multiple assets will need maintenance at the same time, so your team should be prepared to deal with managing repairs or parts replacement with a time crunch.
Software requirements — To have an accurate insight into the current condition of your machines, you need to be able to handle all of the data that is coming in from the various sensors you have installed.
A modern CMMS or another specialized software can help you achieve this by tracking, collecting, and analyzing the data gathered from the condition-monitoring sensors.
This leads us to another challenge. Despite getting some help from the software you use, you will need a person with a specialized set of skills to analyze the data and make accurate fault predictions. In an ideal situation, that would be your maintenance manager. However, it is common for companies to hire a third-party expert until they can handle it in-house.
Lastly, don’t forget that you need to have a stable Wi-Fi network implemented in your plant if you want the sensor data to actually reach your selected software.
Is it worth it? — After getting to know all the challenges you can face when implementing CBM you may be wondering, "Is it worth it?" Introducing CBM is not cheap and it can take some time to fully implement the processes, but the reason many organizations decide to adopt it is the value of the benefits CMB delivers great.
When implemented correctly and leveraged by a well-trained team, it can lead to increased system reliability, increased productivity, and decreased maintenance costs. That means it has the potential to provide a high return on investment — which is appealing to every business that wants to remain competitive in their market.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.