Asset Management

Condition-based maintenance: Definition, CBM strategy, and more

Condition-based maintenance uses sensors to monitor asset conditions in real-time and report faults as they start to appear, enabling you to schedule necessary maintenance, repair or replacement tasks before it fails completely and disrupts normal operations.
What is condition based maintenance?

Asset maintenance, repairs, and overhaul (MRO) are critical aspects to ensuring facilities are efficient, safe, and cost effective.

Facility management teams use different maintenance strategies and technologies for different asset classes and use cases to plan, execute, and optimize the MRO process.

An increasingly popular maintenance method is condition-based maintenance (CBM), which is deceptively similar to predictive maintenance (PdM).

In this article, we discuss the difference between the two and how you can use condition-based maintenance effectively at your facility.

What is condition-based maintenance?

Condition-based maintenance uses sensors to monitor asset conditions in real-time and report faults as they start to appear, enabling you to schedule necessary maintenance, repair or replacement tasks before it fails completely and disrupts normal operations.

Essentially, it notifies you of potential failures (P) based on real-time operating conditions, and predicts time to complete failure (F). It helps understand the PF curve (by predicting the time between fault and failure) for each asset and helps maintenance teams tend to them in time.

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What is the goal of condition-based maintenance?

The goal of CBM are the same as any other maintenance management system:

  • Reduce downtime
  • Increase asset efficiency
  • Increase equipment life
  • Improve safety for workers

What is the difference between predictive and condition-based maintenance?

The key differences between predictive and condition-based maintenance come down to the following:

  • Which data is used to predict failures: The data for predictive maintenance is historical failure rates tracked over time. It helps predict when the asset will start showing faults based on its operational and maintenance history. The data for condition-based maintenance is real-time sensor readings of machinery and equipment.
  • When the system goes into action: Predictive systems are set up, so they go into action before a failure occurs. With condition-based maintenance, you only know when a failure will occur once the asset starts to show faults or abnormal operating conditions.

So which one should you use?

It depends on what makes sense for your business. For example, if you have an older piece of machinery or equipment that has had problems, then predictive could be a good option for maintaining its health without having to shut down production every month or two because something didn't work right.

Condition-based maintenance is more of a "what you need when you need it" type of system. You don't have to worry about setting up your equipment for regular checkups because everything is monitored in real-time.

This can be especially useful for facilities that are constantly running machinery and equipment.

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Benefits of condition-based maintenance

  • Reduce maintenance costs: CBM helps reduce the frequency of unscheduled service and maintenance, which results in improvements in equipment uptime, reliability, availability, and performance.
  • Improve equipment reliability: CBM identifies when an asset is approaching failure so that you can take preemptive action before it stops working completely.
  • Improve equipment availability: By reducing unplanned shutdowns through proactive maintenance or replacing components before they fail, CBM can help improve the availability of your equipment by making sure that it's available when users need it most (e.g., during peak times).

Disadvantages of condition-based maintenance

Condition monitoring systems do not provide information on how long an asset will last before failure occurs, unlike predictive maintenance systems (PdM), which monitor performance over time and define failure modes and exact times of future losses.

Other disadvantages include:

  • Initial and operational costs are often higher due to the need for additional sensors and equipment.
  • Different assets require different sensors, which can make implementation more complex.
  • False positives may lead to unnecessary maintenance activities, resulting in cost overruns.

Types of condition-based monitoring

There are several different ways to monitor a component's condition. The most common methods include the following:

  • Vibration analysis
  • Oil analysis (including magnetic particle and fluorescent dye)
  • Infrared analysis
  • Ultrasonic analysis
  • Acoustic emission monitoring

In addition to these physical inspection methods, there are several other ways that you can monitor equipment for signs of wear and damage.

For example, installing accelerometers on machines that vibrate a lot is common. These devices measure the frequency and amplitude of vibration, which can indicate problems with bearings or other moving parts.

Another common type of monitoring device is a temperature gauge. These can be used to measure the temperature of various liquids and gases, including lubricants and combustion products.

If you notice that one of these temperatures starts to rise above normal levels, it could indicate a problem with either your equipment or its environment.

When should you use condition-based monitoring?

Condition-based monitoring (CBM) is most beneficial to critical assets  that significantly impact production or operations.

Conduct a criticality analysis to determine which equipment is most likely to fail and what impact it will have on your operation. This will help you identify the best places to start with CBM.

Another important consideration is the type of equipment in question. If a large piece of equipment needs to be monitored 24/7, predictive maintenance could be a better option than CBM.

Consider using condition-based monitoring (CBM) on smaller pieces of equipment that don't require constant monitoring and are inexpensive to replace.

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Industry examples for CBM

  • Manufacturing: Most CBM systems in manufacturing are used on pumps, compressors, and motors. These items often have a long lifespan, so it makes sense for companies to monitor their condition closely before they fail.
  • Retail: In the retail industry, CBM is often used on refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioning units. These items are large and expensive to replace when they break down, so it makes sense for companies to monitor their condition closely before they fail.
  • Higher education: In higher education, CBM can be used on anything from air conditioning units to elevators. Some universities are even using CBM to monitor the condition of their dorms. Students often complain about outdated technology, so this is one-way schools can ensure they're providing students with the most up-to-date facilities possible.
  • Facility management: CBM can also be used in facilities management, as it allows you to monitor things like temperature and humidity levels. This is especially important for companies that rent out their premises to different clients throughout the year. It's easy for an HVAC unit or air conditioning system to break down between tenants, so using CBM will help you identify issues before they become serious problems.
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How to use condition-based monitoring effectively?

To use condition-based maintenance effectively, you must first map out your assets, failure modes, and baselines using a computerized maintenance management system software (CMMS).

Then, knowing what is typical for your equipment and how it should perform over time, you can build a picture of the asset's overall health. Then you can use this information to determine when maintenance is required.

CMMS software can help you keep track of your equipment's health and when it needs maintenance. It can also help you identify trends in failure rates, which can indicate when a piece of equipment is due for replacement or repair.

In addition, by understanding the normal operating ranges for each piece of equipment in your fleet, you'll be able to detect anomalies that could indicate a problem with a specific machine or process.

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Make the most of your CBM strategy with a CMMS

The biggest blockers to adopting of CBM technology are cost of large scale implementations and their perceived complexity.

While this is true, using a powerful CMMS like Facilio empowers you with the data you need to understand what assets will benefit most from different maintenance methods, including CBM strategy.

While a robust CMMS guiding and informing your maintenance strategy and effectiveness, you're on the path of delivering high performing building and asset portfolios, now and forever!

Want to learn how you can get started with proactive maintenance?