An industrial plant needs to function as smoothly and streamlined as the machinery and systems that work within it. When there’s a pause in production caused by one asset that needs repairs or malfunctions it affects the entire system. When a plant implements the right condition monitoring technologies and training, it can take proactive measures in spotting machine malfunctions and schedule light maintenance to be performed which can delay or even prevent equipment failure.
Condition monitoring comes in a variety of equipment options and techniques so you can ensure that you’re implementing a strategy that works for your plant and internal system. But first, it’s important to understand the goal and benefits of utilizing condition monitoring systems.
Condition monitoring, also known as CBM (condition-based monitoring) is a form of maintenance that utilizes specific tools and reports to monitor assets and identify upcoming failures and maintenance needs in assets and equipment. Condition monitoring allows for inspections that recognize necessary repairs. This allows maintenance to be scheduled proactively so machines are always working at their optimal level.
Condition monitoring does not slow or affect production unnecessarily as maintenance actions are only taken when certain indicators show signs of performance issues such as lubrication needs, gear defects, high-temperature readings, and other signals that upcoming failure is expected. The goal of condition monitoring is to fix the small problems before it becomes a large issue.
When implementing condition monitoring into your plant, it is important to have specialized analysts and practitioners that understand asset failure rates and degradability. When an asset’s conditions trigger an alert, these professionals can interpret these readings. Once they can decipher the cause of the alert and identify the issue, they can put in a work order with the repair and maintenance team and schedule maintenance at an interval where there is plenty of time before failure. This prevents the asset’s performance levels from falling under the optimal stage.
Condition monitoring alerts a plant to the root causes of small problems before they become bigger problems by looking at potential failure modes, their indicators, and monitors signals. When properly implemented in a plant system, it can provide a variety of benefits for your employees, your earnings, and your plant overall.
The value of condition monitoring is that it keeps assets in optimal health and increases their lifespan. It also provides other indirect advantages to maintenance plans, professionals, and industrial plants as a whole by monitoring assets and equipment parameters in real-time.
With this process, asset monitoring professionals can proactively avoid lengthy downtime and disrupted production caused by machine failures or motor breaks, which saves time, costs, and reduces lost production.
Other key advantages of condition-based monitoring include:
With correctly applied condition monitoring, a plant can significantly improve its overall functionality. However, since not all industrial and technology plants function the same, different techniques can be utilized to ensure optimal monitoring and maintenance.
Assets and equipment “communicate” and alert monitors to a problem through signals such as vibration, sound, higher than average temperatures, etc. Condition monitoring is used to read these “communications” and track, project, and measure asset health. When the health of an asset begins to deteriorate, and the potential for failure begins this is when condition monitoring helps to quickly remedy the issue. It uses sensor devices to collect real-time data and measurements of an asset - allows maintenance personnel to perform the required work at the precise moment it is needed, and completely avoids asset failure.
Most types of condition monitoring analysis for asset health are considered non-invasive, meaning maintenance specialists do not have to go into the moving parts of the machine to figure out the problem. Instead, they utilize various measurements including performance data, visual inspection, and scheduled test results.
This condition data can be collected at specific periods or be set to monitor continuously. Both mission-critical and non-mission-critical assets can be fashioned with condition monitoring tools, including pumps, mixers, fans, agitators, compressors, and conveyors.
There are various types of condition-based monitoring techniques. Here are a few common examples:
Vibration analysis measures the movement of an asset. Obviously, with an active asset, some level of vibration is constant, or normal. However, too much vibration can lead to excessive wear on parts and indicate imbalance or alignment issues. Vibration monitoring is also a key indicator of the functionality of the equipment because it detects rotational and structural issues. Common techniques of vibration monitoring include shock pulse analysis and broadband vibration analysis and these techniques are often used on highly active machinery such as compressors, pumps, and motors. Vibration sensors can be used to detect when this becomes immoderate.
Temperature/ Infrared Monitoring
There is a constant level of heat that an active asset is expected to exude at an optimal level. However, if there is too much friction it creates more heat, indicating to analysts that there’s an issue. This type of condition monitoring indicates to analysts if there is insufficient lubrication, misalignment, or wear. This type of monitoring is also known as infrared thermography. Infrared (IR) cameras are used to read the temperatures of equipment without having to stop its production.
This type of condition monitoring uses special imaging technology to detect defects that may be too deep for standard visual inspection or invisible to the naked eye. If an asset is beginning to corrode, it will have different radiation readings than the unaffected material. Just as an x-ray can register low-density in bones, radiation analysis can help plants catch issues like corrosion faster and easier.
Sound is another way that machines “communicate” an issue to analysts and condition monitoring equipment. Just as hearing squeaks, pings, or clanking in your car alerts you that you need to take it to a mechanic, a machine making unusual sound Ds means there’s likely a malfunction or interference that is resulting in this noise. Acoustic analysis can be registered with human hearing capabilities, such as clanking, unusual humming, and squeaking. Ultrasonic analysis measures sound that might be too high-pitched for humans to hear. Analysts can use these readings to detect gas, liquid, or vacuum leaks.
A well-oiled machine runs smoothly and optimally. Tracking and monitoring these fluids like lubricants and oils can give condition monitors information about the wear of components within a machine. Various substances can be present in the oils of a machine such as metallic particles. Condition monitoring analysts also measure water contamination and viscosity to determine if a failure is imminent.
This technique registers motor current readings. It’s important to monitor electrical readings to ensure an asset is receiving the correct amount of power. If an asset is receiving too much power it can lead to an overload, and result in melted wires, overheating, and other fire hazards. Electrical monitoring also registers the electrical components within an asset, as degradation can lead to failures and downtime. This type of monitoring is performed using induction, pulse and frequency response, capacitance, and resistance.
Not to be confused with electrical monitoring, which analyzes an asset's circuits and their characteristics, electromagnetic monitoring measures oddities in the magnetic field and currents. An electromagnetic analysis will show where defects are causing disturbances in the asset.
Motor Circuit Analysis
The motor is like the human heart, it keeps the equipment running. A motor analysis is an important component of condition monitoring because it detects common causes of motor failure such as electrical imbalances and degradation of insulation.
There are various ways that a machine can clue analysts to a problem. However, some plants do not have condition monitoring functions implemented into their organization. If an asset begins to degrade, there’s little to no maintenance performed until minute zero, and the asset is completely out of commission. This can lead to larger repair costs and longer repair hours.
If a plant does have condition monitoring equipment, then these professionals working to analyze them must be highly-trained in understanding the real-time data given. A sensor alerts to the by-product of the issue, but there are a variety of causes that can be linked to it. Condition monitoring professionals must be sure to maintain their education by staying up-to-date with the latest equipment knowledge.
Condition monitoring is a rewarding yet challenging profession that requires constant learning and exposure to problems to get better at problem-solving. MOBIUS CONNECT® is a social media platform developed by Mobius Institute designed to provide condition monitoring professionals, maintenance practitioners, and other plant experts with the ability to access resources for learning and sharing in your career.
MOBIUS CONNECT is a community that connects industrial plant professionals, condition monitoring practitioners, reliability improvement experts, and much more to other industry professionals around the world. We also provide new, engaging, and educational information in one easy-to-use platform. MOBIUS CONNECT uploads content, news, and information daily in multimedia formats including videos, articles, forums, and more. Best of all, you can customize the content that you see based on your interests and profession. You can download the MOBIUS CONNECT app from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store on your mobile device or sign up on your desktop via www.mobiusconnect.com.