used equipment waiting for mainenance

If it ain’t broke…

Anne Cunningham - 8 October 2015

Extending service life and cutting costs with condition-based maintenance

About the author

Ms Anne Cunningham
Anne Cunningham is a freelance member of Valve World magazine's editorial team and owner of Cunningham Text & Translation where she works as a text writer, (online) news editor and translator. Raised bilingual, she is experienced in writing about the process industries in both English and Dutch.
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Your car manufacturer has probably recommended an oil replacement interval for your vehicle. After a predetermined mileage is reached, a light flashes on your dashboard, reminding you that it’s time to bring your car in for servicing.

While the recommended interval is the result of years of experience and analysis, it basically boils down to an educated guess based on data averages and vehicle specifications. Depending on your driving style, environmental conditions, and your vehicle’s condition, that average guess could be way off and you could be servicing your car either too soon or too late.

The same holds true for system maintenance in all industries. Traditionally, routine maintenance is performed according to a planned maintenance schedule, which could mean potentially wasting time and resources performing unnecessary repairs and replacements. A component nearing failure earlier than planned could go unnoticed if that system is not due for scheduled maintenance, resulting in breakdowns and potentially shutting down operations.

Enter condition-based maintenance. Unlike planned scheduled maintenance, condition-based maintenance, or CBM, uses data collected from the system itself to determine when servicing is required. Maintenance is carried out as-needed according to the condition of the asset, rather than the date. By scheduling maintenance at the optimal time and working around production schedules when possible, CBM can prevent unnecessary downtime and increase equipment service life, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

Simply gathering the data isn’t enough, however. There is a lot of data to deal with and filtering out the irrelevant data is becoming increasingly important. A cargo ship typically generates a reported 2.5 gigabytes of data every day. That number is set to grow exponentially as systems become increasingly connected. In its recently published Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 report, Lloyd’s Register reports an estimated 4,300% increase in annual data generation by 2020, which will only have increased further by 2030. All that data has to be correctly interpreted into useable information to provide a clear picture on system health.

So it definitely has its ups and downs and switching to condition-based maintenance does take some serious planning. Installing sensors and other monitoring equipment on old machinery can be tricky, and it may not be possible to access all areas for spot measuring during operation. Initial cost of implementation can be high, as investments in measuring equipment and staff training will need to be made. As a result, CBM is often reserved for production critical systems which require a high level of reliability. This will change, however, as advances in technology will likely lower initial costs in the future, making condition-based maintenance more widely available.

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