Using condition monitoring to forecast and diagnose problems

Careful condition monitoring by keeping track of any subtle changes in machines overtime can help avoid failures and costly downtime.


One of the many factors in establishing an effective maintenance program is the ability to diagnose problems. Having the ability to fix those problems early is key before they become a larger issue. Having the proper maintenance techniques in place allows for the repair or replacement of equipment on your terms. You no longer have to wait for them to fail, this results in unexpected and costly downtime.

Condition monitoring

Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaOne maintenance method gaining popularity in recent years is condition monitoring. In reality, condition monitoring is nothing new. It is the process of monitoring a piece of equipment and determining if the condition is changing over time. Changes include an increase in temperature or vibration as well as a decrease in power or productivity. Even a slight change in the condition of the machine signifies potential problems.

An important factor to consider when using condition monitoring is that it is not a sole tool to use. It is a potent tool in detecting and diagnosing problems within the machinery. It is also a method of last resort. Once problems are discovered with equipment, it may already be too late.

One piece of the toolbox

Using other preventative maintenance techniques helps rule out problems before they become detectable. Those different types of maintenance techniques include infrared and ultrasound technology.

Write down information about the condition of the equipment. Don't expect the equipment operator to recognize changes. Changes in the equipment's operation might be gradual and undetectable. Comparing notes over time goes a long way in helping detect problems.

Another important factor is routine maintenance. Maintaining the equipment on a regular schedule helps to delay issues. Lubrication and regular cleaning are some everyday tasks that work with an established condition monitoring program. Using a combination of these tools may be part of the preventative maintenance program, but it also is good operating procedures.

Finally, it is important to get the operators on board with the program. They need to voice their concerns and opinions about the equipment they are operating. Provide regular instruction and a means of communication that works for everyone involved.

A plant must be run efficiently with data and schedule maintenance strategies to avoid failures and costly downtime.

David Manney is marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on Watt's New, the official blog of L&S Electric. L&S Electric is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Carly Marchal, content specialist, CFE Media,  

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