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Author: Adam Kimmel

If you want to prevent critical and costly downtime and product quality issues, having the right condition-based monitoring solution is vital. Condition-based monitoring predicts asset failures before they occur. During system operation, sensors collect performance data that engineers can then analyze and regress. The analyzed data identifies trends based on the component's performance to predict the likelihood of an asset failing or its remaining lifespan.

Downtime and product quality issues can negatively affect system operations by reducing production throughput and adding capital or maintenance costs to replace or repair the failed asset. Downtime can also lead to production interruptions and missed shipment dates, putting the reputation of your brand at risk. Employing the appropriate condition-based monitoring solution can extend the longevity of your equipment while eliminating downtime and improving customer relationships.

The four types of maintenance

Technicians can repair equipment at various stages of component failure, both before and after it occurs, rapidly bringing a failed asset back online. There are four types of maintenance that can mitigate the risk or event of an equipment failure.

1. Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance repairs an asset after it fails. It aims to restore the equipment to working order as soon as possible to minimize downtime. If a piece of equipment going down does not significantly disrupt production, this method might be a preferred approach.

While reactive maintenance requires you to allow an asset to go offline, it is typically a resource-friendly solution that is less capital-intensive and minimizes upfront cost. Downtime is the direct trade-off with this approach.

2. Preventative maintenance

To avoid any downtime at all, system operators can employ preventative maintenance. This method is a planned or scheduled series of inspections that target small issues before they become significant. By reducing or eliminating large problems, planned maintenance extends the useful life of the equipment. It also decreases the risk of production interruptions by reducing downtime.

A drawback of a preventative maintenance approach is that it still creates downtime, whether the system needs repair or not. Though you can plan the timing of the stoppage, there is an efficiency cost to conducting maintenance that may not be required.

3. Risk-based maintenance 

Taking a step toward predicting when to shut down an asset for necessary repair, operators can employ risk-based maintenance. This approach evaluates an asset for risk and defines a maintenance plan to reduce the overall risk of failure to the organization. Historical data shows engineers the sources and consequences of likely equipment failures. They can score the severity, probability and likelihood of occurrence for a failure using design and process failure mode and effect analyses. The combined score determines the relative magnitude of the identified risks.

The industrial and automotive sectors commonly use this method based on the collective experience of those assigning risk. Risk-based maintenance is somewhat challenged: though it considers historical data, it still relies on the opinion of technical experts to predict where a failure might occur.

4. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance is the most efficient way to diagnose the potential for equipment failure. It uses condition-based monitoring to assess equipment performance in real time, taking measurements of relevant operating parameters to compare with known equipment fatigue profiles.

While condition-based monitoring is not full predictive monitoring, it is a step to enable the use of data that can be used to keep a system running as long as possible before shutting down for maintenance, thereby decreasing repair cycle intervals. It increases the equipment throughput, reducing overhead costs per part produced, and it reduces costs from increased purchase and installation of unneeded equipment repair.

Though the best-in-class approach, predictive maintenance will take time to implement and requires an upfront investment in sensors, monitoring, analytic software and operator training before rolling out.

Choosing the right condition-based monitoring solution

Quality engineers know that assets have finite useful life cycles. To determine which asset monitoring solution to select, you have to identify non-negotiable metrics, such as part quality and demand fulfillment. You should also consider several questions to understand whether you have the appropriate solution:

  • What type of maintenance can your team perform?
  • Can you afford any downtime without significant disruption to operations?
  • How sensitive are performance variations to the asset's output?
  • Is investing in the technology worth the capital spend?

Asset health management provides real-time equipment performance to enable predictable operation. It also optimizes maintenance to eliminate downtime. Using an analytical approach to maintenance saves money and improves operational efficiency and customer relationships. These factors are essential to consider when calculating the full payback of your investment.

Learn more about how Verizon's condition-based maintenance solution can help you get ahead of equipment failure.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.