5 steps to effective condition monitoring: an enabler for predictive maintenance


The idea of predictive maintenance can be daunting for some manufacturers as it represents a significant cultural shift in how they plan, prioritize and perform maintenance activities. The benefits of doing so can be huge but if this shift isn’t properly managed, there can be serious consequences.

To help remove some of the mystery, we have created a straightforward 5-step guide outlining what manufacturers should be considering when implementing a condition monitoring program. You can download more information from our white paper: Effective condition monitoring: An enabler for predictive maintenance.

1. Set clear, achievable goals

iStock-610749374_smallBefore thinking about implementing a condition monitoring program, you need to understand exactly what you are looking to achieve. Go into the process with a clear aim to ensure it delivers on your expectations.

For the food and beverage sector, for example, competition on price is a huge issue, therefore making the production line more efficient and minimizing maintenance costs can be a major source of competitive advantage, all whilst being able to maintain quality and ensure provenance. The pressures in automotive are different – the pressure there is to keep the production line flowing as even a minute of unplanned downtime can cost in excess of $50,000.

2. Qualify and quantify your metrics

It might sound obvious but qualifying the goal is key to working out the validity and return on investment of condition monitoring. These programmes don’t have to be measured on an economic basis, but cost is one of the best ways to quantify potential savings and justify the use of condition monitoring. This isn’t always a straightforward process as downtime can have many hidden costs beyond simply the loss of production, including the price of spare parts, labor and scrap product.

 Saving downtime may not even be the most important metric, your key metrics could be one or a combination of:

  • Reducing wastage
  • Reducing spares inventory
  • Ensuring uptime (a subtle difference)
  • Extending asset lifetime
  • Reducing planned maintenance or extending its intervals
  • Ensuring quality

3. Consider your current exposure to condition monitoring

It’s important to consider your organization’s current exposure to condition monitoring, as the initial implementation and follow-up is where many fail. This can be due to a variety of reasons including: lack of commitment from the management level across operations and engineering, no knowledge of CM practices, unclear objectives, budget constraints which don’t support even basic training, overspending any initial budget on instruments that are never used or inappropriate, or a reluctance to change.

4. Perform a cost / benefit analysis

The gains from condition monitoring must outweigh the cost, but there is more to consider than simply the cost of implementation and downtime avoided. You must determine the total potential savings, including extending the lifespan of your assets as part of your return on investment figures. Also, consider that the initial financial gains will increase over time due to continuous improvement. Be prepared for a long journey and remember that the gains are cultural as well as material.

5. Decide what to measure

The final stage is deciding what to measure in order to achieve your goals. In time, it will make sense to monitor pretty much every asset but in the short term, pick something where a pilot can make a difference. We’ve seen too many organizations pick assets that are highly instrumented and watched, and that they never have issues with – don’t do this! – you won’t be able to measure any return on investment and the project could be considered a failure.

Download Effective condition monitoring: An enabler for Predictive Maintenance white paper