Condition-based monitoring (CBM) is the backbone for plant reliability, maintenance, and function. Condition monitoring allows plants to understand the health of the assets - allowing practitioners to understand machine availability and capacity, as well as prevent asset failures, unplanned downtime, and determine what maintenance will be required and when.
Condition-based monitoring also helps to reduce costs of maintenance, care, and unavailable assets. Reducing waste, safety hazards and incidents, and environmental impact are also key benefits of condition monitoring. The technical and plant industries work with highly complex machines that require focused responsibility and review. It’s not just about the health of the individual machine, but also the many components that make up the machine. From gears and bearings to the installation and proper lubrication. Condition-based monitoring allows a company to maximize the use of its assets. While failure can happen, it is important to be avoided.
Equipment “communicates” and warns when there is a problem with signals such as vibration, sound, etc. The principle of condition-based monitoring is to track, trend, and measure for the asset’s functionality. If, and likely, when, an asset begins to defect and degrade in health the potential for failure begins. Many tools are used for monitoring an asset such as infrared thermography, vibration analytics, oil analysis, and ultrasound. These metrics are extremely important to review to prevent degraded asset performance as they hint to the location of the required attention and maintenance.
Vibration is a key indicator of the functionality of the equipment. Too much vibration can mean there’s extra wear on parts or flaws in components such as imbalances and misalignments. Vibration analysis detects rotational and structural issues. Common techniques include shock pulse analysis and broadband vibration analysis.
Assessing the lubricants, oil, and other fluids can give practitioners information about the wear of components in a machine. Things such as metallic particles, water contamination, viscosity, and more are considered in oil analysis. Too many contaminants in lubricants and other fluids can stipulate an upcoming failure.
Friction creates heat. If there’s too much heat coming off of an asset, this could indicate insufficient lubrication, misalignment, or wear. This is often referred to as infrared thermography.
Just as when there’s a squeaking or clanking in your car and you immediately know there’s a problem, assets will warn you of a malfunction or interference with uncommon sounds. A sonic analysis is one form of acoustic analysis that can be registered simply with the human hearing range. Clanking, unusual humming, and squeaking are common types of these. Ultrasonic analysis requires sensors for sounds that may be too high-pitched for humans to hear.
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.
This method of testing is a type of preventative maintenance. Electrical parameters need to be measured to ensure the whole of the asset is receiving the correct amount of power. For example, too much power can cause an overload, leading to melted wires, and other potential fire hazards. Degradation in electrical components can also lead to failures. Testing is done with induction, pulse and frequency response, capacitance, and resistance.
This is quite distinct from electrical monitoring, which looks at circuits and their characteristics. Electromagnetic measurements instead measure distortions in the magnetic field and current changes to identify issues. In essence, a field or current is induced either inside the equipment or to its surfaces. An electromagnetic analysis will show where defects are causing disturbances in the field.
The use of radiation technology is crucial to condition-based monitoring as it provides thorough testing that may not be seen with the naked eye. For example, corrosion of asset material will have different radiation readings than the “healthy” material. Like an x-ray can see low-density in bones, radiation analysis can help plants catch an issue earlier and make the necessary fixes before the problem gets worse.
Precision in asset materials and components is key for optimal function. Lasers are used to measure defects in both the surface and subsurface of many materials.
These testing methods are crucial to maintaining the health of an asset. The sooner an issue is identified and addressed, the planning time from the point of protection through to a point of failure is much larger.
With the right technologies and training, condition-based monitoring provides vital insights to spot machine malfunctions and prevent or delay equipment failure so maintenance can be proactively scheduled when it is needed. This is why analysts need to understand asset failure rates and degradability. While condition monitoring looks at potential failure modes, their indicators, and monitors signals, it is important to implement this knowledge for taking precursory action for condition improvement. Getting to the root causes of small problems before they become bigger problems is the philosophy of condition-based monitoring.
As the assets and machinery continue to advance in the industrial field, so do the leaders and practitioners of condition-based monitoring need to be updated and educated. MOBIUS CONNECT exists to help leaders and practitioners of the reliability improvement, condition monitoring, and precision maintenance fields to connect for problem-solving, continued learning, and sharing experiences. Whether accessed online or through the mobile app, MOBIUS CONNECT offers live feeds and forums with highly valuable information and updates. MOBIUS CONNECT is also linked to RELIABILITY CONNECT and CBM CONNECT where there are articles, case studies, videos, and podcasts. MOBIUS CONNECT also hosts live conferences for learning and progressive certifications.
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