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Condition-based maintenance and its advantages

Condition based maintenance is a type of preventive maintenance that monitors the actual condition of an asset to prevent failures.

If you’re an AECO sector professional, you surely know about the various types of maintenance to choose from in relation to asset characteristics and the the maintenance requirements. Intervening on an asset is always a delicate and complex process, so I recommend you always rely on a professional facility management software that allows you to create intervention requests (tickets), maintenance plans and request collaboration sessions with the maintenance teams.

In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at condition-based maintenace (CBM), which is defined as a type of unscheduled preventive maintenance.

What is Condition-Based Maintenance?

Condition-Based Maintenance, denoted by the abbreviation CBM, literally means “maintenance according to conditions”.

This type of maintenance takes its name precisely because the implementation strategy is to monitor the real conditions of an asset to decide what intervention to perform. CBM requires that maintenance should only be performed when some indicators show signs of decreased performance or imminent failure.

Unlike scheduled maintenance (PM), where maintenance is performed at predefined scheduled intervals, condition-based maintenance (CBM) is performed only after a decrease in asset performance has been observed.

The objective of Condition-Based Maintenance is, therefore, to continuously monitor the activities and performance of the asset to identify possible imminent failures. In this way, maintenance can be planned proactively, when performance decreases are already in place but no failure has yet to occur.

Constant, real-time monitoring will give the maintenance team sufficient time to study the mode of intervention and act before a fault occurs or performance drops below an optimal level.

Condition-based Maintenance workflow

Condition-based Maintenance workflow

What is the difference between Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) and Predictive Maintenance (PdM)?

Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) and Predictive Maintenance (PdM) are often confused because both:

  • rely on data to determine whether maintenance is necessary or not;
  • prevent unexpected downtime.

While the similarities end here, in the table below we indicate the differences between predictive maintenance and maintenance according to condition:

Condition based Maintenance (CBM)Predictive Maintenance (PdM)
It is based on diagnoses highlighted by the analysis of the conditions (vibrations, temperature, pressure, speed, voltage) to determine when a maintenance intervention is necessary.It combines the diagnoses highlighted by condition analysis with complex predictive formulas to predict when maintenance may be necessary.
It is based on static rules for decision making.It is based on dynamic rules for decision making.
The optimized form of preventive maintenance based on continuous detection, diagnostic and prognostic algorithms.Technologically advanced preventive maintenance based on the algorithmic recognition of machines.
Notify the technicians at the exact moment when something is wrong.Predicts future failures through the use of advanced technologies.

We could say that predictive maintenance is a more advanced, accurate and reliable version of condition maintenance. On the other hand, however, Predictive Maintenance bases its operation on technologies that provide a significant economic investment and not yet sustainable by everyone.

How many types of condition based maintenance are there?

A bit like for predictive maintenance, there are different types also for maintenance according to conditions, in relation to the asset to be monitored, its characteristics and the technologies implemented. Here are the most useful and the most widespread:

  1. vibration analysis: many different types of equipment under normal operating conditions, may emit a certain degree of vibration, the change of this vibrational behaviour may indicate loss of performance or malfunctions;
  2. infrared: IR cameras intercept points of the property or equipment where there is the presence of abnormal high temperatures that can therefore indicate possible malfunctions;
  3. ultrasonic analysis: an equipment in optimal operation, produces a certain sound. The change in the sound produced could indicate changes in the machine’s operation;
  4. acoustic analysis: used to detect liquid or gas leaks;
  5. oil analysis: measures the number and size of particles in a sample to determine asset wear;
  6. electrical analysis: through ammeters it is possible to detect anomalies in the flow of current of the equipment;
  7. operational performance: asset performance is determined through different devices and sensors that monitor different parameters according to needs (pressure, temperature, flow, etc.).
Condition based Maintenance types

Condition based Maintenance types

Examples of condition based maintenance?

Based on the Condition-Based Maintenance technology that applies, there are various examples that we may report. However, to give us an idea of the application of maintenance according to specific conditions, here are some examples:

  1. temperature monitoring of computers and machinery to prevent overheating or the use of intelligent HVAC units to control the temperature of the building and save energy;
  2. monitoring the pressure in a water system to detect any leaks;
  3. monitoring of oil particles in machinery or vehicles, in this way it is possible to proceed with the intervention not according to predetermined deadlines but only when really necessary.

There would be hundreds of other examples similar to those just reported, as there are hundreds of parameters that can be monitored with this type of maintenance, avoiding breakdowns and more substantial and expensive repairs.

The 6 Steps of a Condition based Maintenance Program

To implement a valid condition-based maintenance plan, these are the 6 essential steps that should neve be ignored:

  1. identify which parts or equipment have priority of intervention over others;
  2. identify which failures might be encountered most frequently by assets as previously identified;
  3. select the most appropriate monitoring methods based on potential faults;
  4. determine the time limit that may elapse between malfunction detection and the intervention before the failure actually occurs;
  5. analyze data collected through monitoring and work towards designing the intervention methods;
  6. determine roles and responsibilities for interventions within the maintenance team.

What are the benefits of condition based maintenance?

Condition-Based Maintenance can lead to a number of advantages including:

  • reduction of faults;
  • greater safety at work – maintenance teams end up intervening to fix malfunctions and not to repair faults;
  • shorter downtime as preventing the fault will not be subject to interruption of operation caused by the fault itself;
  • reduced maintenance times and costs as intervention on malfunctions or small defects require less investment in terms of resources compared to an actual failure that has already occurred;
  • targeted choices for the interventions to be carried out, once the single issues have been identified, it is possible to choose to intervene, without urgency reducing inconveniencies to users;
  • increased performance and useful life of the asset.

Intervening for the maintenance of an asset or parts of it is always a delicate phase that needs, to be efficient, the support of professional and reliable software. That’s why I’d really recommend trying a facility management software for yourself to find out how it can help you improve the productivity of your maintenance processes and reduce the time and costs associated with management.