What is Condition Monitoring?
Condition monitoring is the basis of modern maintenance. It focuses on measuring equipment parameters to detect significant changes. In this way, the technology helps to detect and prevent imminent failures. But what is condition monitoring and how can it be profitably applied in the company?
How does condition monitoring work?
A condition monitoring system uses sensors to continuously record the condition data of machines, plants or processes. The basis for this is formed by relevant variables such as acoustics, acceleration, the magnitude of vibrations, position or oil level. The associated software then analyzes this measurement data and records it in the condition monitoring report.
All the values measured by the sensor system are used to record the condition. To this end, the measurements must always be taken at the same point in order to provide meaningful results. The technology then transmits the collected data to the computer via cable or remotely. Which factors are relevant for the evaluation and how they are weighted is determined beforehand. This means that condition monitoring services can be used for a wide variety of areas and companies.
However, empirical values play a central role in applied condition monitoring. This involves the condition comparison between the actual and reference values. After all, deviations can only be detected if the normal condition is sufficiently known. If this is the case, diagnoses can be made and decisions taken on the basis of the recorded data. In this way, condition monitoring enables predictive maintenance of plants of different types.
Condition monitoring: What are the goals?
The questions of what is condition monitoring and how does it work are followed by the question of the goals. The most important task of condition monitoring is to identify faults at an early stage. The focus is on problems that could lead to unplanned downtime or damage. Violence or vandalism are external influences and therefore do not fall within the scope of the condition monitoring system.
The goals of condition monitoring are to maintain Overall Equipment Effectiveness and personnel safety. At the same time, condition monitoring services form the basis for condition-based maintenance and predictive maintenance.
The advantages of condition monitoring
A condition monitoring system is a benefit for companies, which is reflected in lower downtimes. In addition, condition monitoring offers additional advantages:
- One of the most important advantages of condition monitoring is the continuous collection of data. This data can be used to generate comparative values that provide important information through analysis.
- Problems on machines or systems can be detected at an early stage with condition monitoring. This facilitates maintenance and reduces downtime.
- Another advantage of condition monitoring is that it takes into account a large number of assets. This makes it possible to keep an eye on the impact of individual machines.
- Since condition monitoring minimizes the number of breakdowns, plant productivity increases.
- The service life of machines can be extended because condition monitoring indicates irregularities at an early stage. In this way, unscheduled maintenance by experts is not a problem.
Companies that address the question of what is condition monitoring do not only encounter advantages. There are also challenges. The most important challenges are:
- Older machines, dating from the first half of the 20th century, require extensive retrofitting. With modern models, the necessary sensor technology is usually available.
- To use condition monitoring services effectively, it must first be defined what needs to be monitored. In particular, analyzing risk factors can be a challenge.
- Available space and sufficient power supply can be a problem in some industrial environments. Wireless data transmission also presents a challenge for many companies.
- To fully utilize a condition monitoring system, integrations with other systems should be made. For companies with many small stand-alone solutions, this task can take a lot of time. Additional custom modules for condition monitoring can increase this effort.
- The advantages of condition monitoring are especially profitable when a large amount of data is available. However, not all machine manufacturers are willing to provide direct and unfiltered access to the data.
TeamViewer IoT Success Story
Kelch GmbH ensures the availability of tool presetters
with TeamViewer and TeamViewer IoT.
TeamViewer IoT enables Kelch GmbH to upgrade their devices with little effort by a useful service based on data communication. In this way, the company helps its customers to prevent machine downtime and the production of scrap and thus actively contributes to their quality assurance. This increases the added value potential for the customer and thus also the utility value of the Kelch devices. In a first step, Kelch plans to connect approximately 500 systems worldwide with TeamViewer IoT.
Techniques for condition monitoring
Although condition monitoring can be easily integrated, implementation can vary from company to company. Basically, however, they are standardized techniques. These are defined by ISO and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The following methods are among the most important for applied condition monitoring.
Measuring the vibration level and frequency of a machine. This is a good method to analyze its condition. By continuously monitoring the vibration, many problems can be detected early: Unbalance, mechanical looseness, electric motor faults, misalignment as well as cavitation are just some of them. These warnings can occur with a lead time of three months before failure occurs.
Oil analysis is central to condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. It analyzes machine wear and oil contamination, but also reveals the condition of machine lubricants. Therefore, it includes a wide range of parameters to provide a detailed condition monitoring report. For example, regular spectrographic oil testing can help control chemical composition and predict problems.
Using a thermal imaging camera, companies record the radiation that machines emit. This data can be used to identify and visualize the temperature distribution in rooms. At the same time, the information indicates where insulation and cooling mechanisms are needed. Additionally, abnormal heat patterns within equipment can be quickly identified and eliminated.
For mechanical applications, ultrasonic testing is a common technique in condition monitoring. Among other things, ultrasound measures high-frequency signals on which a history can be built. It helps companies understand how friction or other bearing defects can increase. At the same time, it is the common measure for condition monitoring using shock pulse measurement.
Acoustic emission monitoring is a subset of vibration analysis. However, it involves much higher frequencies. The aim is to look for signals that could have their origin in shocks or cracks. In doing so, they are independent of many mechanical factors. They provide the company with an effective means of detecting problems at an early stage.
Condition monitoring increases predictability by detecting troubles
One of the most important advantages of condition monitoring is that companies can detect problems at an early stage. Based on the measured real-time data, reliable statements can be made that promote preventive maintenance. Based on the continuously collected data, it is also possible to reduce unforeseen failures to a minimum. After all, such situations are already noticeable in advance. The condition monitoring report brings them to the fore.
This approach follows the principle that failures are not always linear. For this reason, the focus is on different asset aspects that together provide a meaningful overall picture. Based on these measurements, predictive and reliability-oriented maintenance can help to detect defects at an early stage. Applied condition monitoring helps companies in this endeavor. It continuously collects data on the relevant assets.
Stock failures contribute to the decline of assets in the company. Continuous data collection makes it possible to create a history for such scenarios. This makes it possible to determine, for example: The failure occurs when the temperature exceeds 21 degrees Celsius for an extended period of time.
If the warehouse is no longer operational from this point, the company must take active measures. This could consist, for example, of inspecting the warehouse daily or every other day. Now the temperature factor is accurately recorded. In this way, condition monitoring helps to determine the specific circumstances of a failure.
IoT and condition monitoring
The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming increasingly important in everyday business. It is a network of connected devices that includes both computers and machines. Data can be transferred via this connection without the need for manual intervention.
The great advantage of this approach is that the integration of several plants and systems is completely independent of location. Since applied condition monitoring transmits real-time data from the sensors, the two technologies go hand in hand. For companies, this means:
- IoT-connected condition monitoring services allow monitoring of different assets.
- The combination of both technologies helps to identify performance and detect problems at an early stage.
- It is possible to automate maintenance based on threshold values. Remote monitoring management allows experts to access the relevant data at any time.
- Data storage in the cloud reduces the company’s workload, as it does not require its own data center. This also means that the data can be viewed anywhere and at any time.
- Condition monitoring systems can implement machine learning algorithms. This technology contributes to improved analytics and provides better diagnostic accuracy in the condition monitoring report.
- To enable predictive maintenance with condition monitoring, a large amount of data is required. Therefore, it is advantageous to collect information from as many plants and machines of the same type as possible.
- Human activity decreases by combining both technologies. IoT-based systems can be monitored via remote management, and the number of devices does not matter. Location independence is a significant advantage, especially for companies that need to monitor remote assets.
Conclusion: Condition monitoring allows predictive maintenance
Condition monitoring is an important part of the digital transformation strategy of companies. Only continuous monitoring of the condition of technical equipment enables predictive maintenance. The reason for this is that predictions regarding the optimal time for maintenance and repair depend on reference values. Companies that know the normal condition can detect anomalies before they lead to problems and take immediate action. This makes real-time data acquisition a key factor in predictive maintenance. And thus for maintaining their own productivity.