What is Condition Based Maintenance?

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  • Condition based maintenance (CBM) is real-time monitoring that uses a combination of software technology and connected sensors to assess and predict when maintenance needs to occur.
  • There are two types of CBM; periodic and continuous monitoring. Periodic is lower cost but comes with greater limitations. 
  • CBM can optimize your plant floor and heavily relies on powerful, next-gen maintenance management software to do so. See how real-time data can transform your plant floor with a CloudDispatch demo

We’ve been monitoring the condition of our assets for decades now–and it’s not a new practice, especially in manufacturing plants. 

But recent developments have set the stage for today, where the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, tablets, VR/AR, AI, additive printing, and wearable devices are intersecting with businesses around the world. These mark the move toward digital manufacturing

Each epoch brings a greater number of changes, and they’re happening at an accelerated rate. This rapidity is simply a feature of technology–the more you have, the more you get. 

Yet, there’s now a similar shift needed in the maintenance of these technological advancements. As equipment itself evolves, so do the methods for monitoring and maintaining these assets. 

That’s why condition based maintenance (a.k.a., condition based monitoring) is so innovative. It empowers factories to employ machine learning and remote monitoring to reap the benefits of predictive maintenance. 

Ultimately, condition based monitoring allows businesses to scale up their operations with greater simplicity and ease. 


What Is Condition Based Monitoring?

A condition based monitoring program is a form of real-time monitoring that uses a combination of software technology and connected sensors to assess and predict when maintenance needs to occur.

Through predictive maintenance, you can optimize multiple factors, reduce the overall cost of production, and eliminate significant areas of operational waste. 

These benefits narrow down into several, visible, and felt effects–not least of which is to improve customer satisfaction at the very end of the chain.

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Condition based monitoring requires a program to collect data from a machine (or several in conjunction) while it’s operating. Sensors are responsible for collecting data and detecting changes in the machine. 

These changes are then able to predict imminent failure, and the program will flag the problem early on. The next steps generally look like this:

    • Early stage problem flagging
    • Program tells user when (and where) to perform maintenance
    • Prevents unexpected shutdowns and subsequent downtime
    • Boosts productivity by avoiding the consequences of machine failure
    • Improves quality since machines/equipment are always running on optimal capacity

This process short-circuits what used to be time-consuming and costly repairs and preventing them a much simpler occurrence you can plan for. 

Thus, condition based maintenance has a clear advantage over the break-fix method. 

Condition based maintenance has real-world applications where results consistently cut service costs, improve up-time, cut shrinkage, and help to track assets like stock, plant, and equipment both on-site and in the field. 

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As a form of predictive maintenance, condition based maintenance is very intuitive. It naturally builds on the success of the previous fix and gets smarter every time. 

And the best part is that factors like the complexity of the asset or the presence of actual individuals are not a major factor once the system is properly installed. Through methods like ultrasound or remote monitoring services, data can keep flowing in to trigger the processes that enable a fix. 


Types of Condition Based Maintenance: Periodic vs. Continuous Monitoring

There are two types of condition based maintenance. The first is periodic, and the second is continuous. 

Let’s examine periodic first, and then compare it to its counterpart. 

Periodic monitoring is considered a reactive approach, where you fix your machines only when broken, or when you have a planned downtime. This calls for managers to schedule maintenance, but not with any sort of real data

 These are at Level 1 and Level 2 of equipment efficiency. 

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One of the major factors in favor of periodic monitoring is the low cost barrier to entry–all you need is basic diagnostic functions. Yet, it still only provides a limited window into your production machinery. 

Continuous monitoring works exactly like it sounds: continuously. It’s a method of data collection that occurs in an ongoing manner. It requires a truly integrative approach, and that’s why it comes under predictive maintenance. 

It also pushes you into levels three and four above—proactive and predictive maintenance. 

In continuous monitoring, machines and situations are counter to the factors of periodic monitoring:

  • Machines run 24 hours a day, which makes them the linchpins of many operations 
  • They’re not always replaceable, and are crucial to the operation
  • If they were to fail, there would be a high level of consequences–including posing a risk to personnel safety
  • They’re already expensive to maintain, so replacement could be catastrophic

Predictive monitoring relies on advanced analytics and sensory data to assess machine reliability, which means you can run more efficiently and with less errors. 

What Types of Condition Based Maintenance Do Manufacturers Work With?

The life of assets goes through a predictable series of stages. Predictive maintenance extends the life of these assets in a much more responsive way. The data collected through specific methods of condition based maintenance can help machines make decisions about warning signs. 

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The key factor here is time. If a predictive maintenance program can zone in on and bring the defect to the attention of a technician or manager, then this lead time means that any “fix” is actually a matter of maintenance, rather than repairs.

As the life of the assets progresses, this trend continues. Technicians and managers can use multiple methods of maintenance, including:

  • Route-Based Monitoring: A technician records data intermittently with a handheld device. This is a preliminary test to figure out if there’s a need for further analysis

  • Portable Machine Diagnostics: Portable machinery helps monitor the health of machines located in diverse areas. The health of the machine is monitored using sensors, which are attached to the machine permanently, then read by the portable device. 

  • Online Machine Monitoring: Through this method, the process of machine monitoring moves online and occurs continuously, as the machine runs in real-time. An embedded device captures and analyzes the data, then transmits it to the main server for further analysis and scheduling.

  • Factory Assurance Test: This method is less about maintenance and more about tracking failure. Managers will verify that the finished product meets its design and quality specs, determining possible failure modes.

  • Online Machine Protection: This condition based monitoring method is closely related to online machine monitoring. Here, the machine actively runs, and its limits settings are turned on and off remotely, to control the machine during crises.

  • Remote Monitoring Services: Rather than having in-house teams dedicated to analyzing the incoming data, some manufacturing firms will choose to outsource their monitoring to independent consultants or external business. The benefit of this is that the entire operation of protection, monitoring, maintenance, repair, analysis, and replacement is offloaded onto the contractor and can significantly free up the manufacturing business’s human resources.

  • Ultrasound Remote Monitoring: Ultrasound monitoring is both a method and a tool. Like vibration measurements, ultrasound waves will help technicians look for patterns and then identify inconsistencies with running assets. Use cases include leak detection, electrical inspection, and monitoring of equipment like bearings, rotating equipment.


With condition based maintenance on your side, the advantages are real, and can show results such as:

    • Reduction in maintenance costs
    • Reduced mean time to repair
    • Reduction in spare parts costs
    • Reduction in downtime / increase in asset availability
    • An extension of asset life
    • A resulting increase in production

It would be wise not to ignore condition based monitoring, which as shown above, can lead to increased efficiency, greater responsiveness, optimized assets, reduced downtime, and a reduction in “waste” on all fronts. 

Implementing the benefits of condition based maintenance relies heavily on powerful, next-gen maintenance management software, designed to integrate these functions and bring large data sets together for visual analysis. 

Connected factories are the future because that’s what our present demands. See how real-time data can transform your plant floor with a CloudDispatch demo. 

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