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Condition monitoring – smart maintenance in advance

Published: · Last updated: · 8 min reading time

In today’s world, machines have to be able to do more and more. Mass production, rapid manufacturing of goods, and, in many cases, 24-hour running times push machines to their limits. It is essential to act with foresight to ensure that devices continue to perform stably under this constant load. Otherwise, there is a risk that the machines will often suffer from downtime. This would be fatal for smooth production. Condition monitoring is the magic word for clever advance maintenance planning. Therefore, this blog article takes a closer look at everything to do with the term condition monitoring.

What is Condition Monitoring?

Condition monitoring deals with the comprehensive monitoring of machines in industrial production. This involves measuring the machine parameters at regular intervals. The devices and systems are checked for faults frequently, and these are rectified in the event of a fault. In this way, failures within the production can be prevented, which saves time and cost. Sensors installed directly in the machine constantly provide results about the condition of the device.

These values include, for example, the frequency of vibrations of a machine or its temperature. If anomalies are detected when evaluating the measured values supplied, it is possible to intervene and take countermeasures in good time. In the best case, the error is corrected in advance before the machine breaks down. Condition monitoring is a reliable monitoring tool in emergency systems, compressor machines, process technology, and many other systems.

Condition monitoring enables industrial companies to detect changes or impairments in machines at an early stage. As a result, machine maintenance cycles can be better planned.

What Condition Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance have in common

Predictive maintenance is one of the significant drivers of Industry 4.0. Predictive maintenance opens up excellent opportunities to plan care preventively. As a result, machines remain in good condition and do not wear out as quickly as they would without the option of predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance primarily uses state-of-the-art systems that constantly monitor the state of the machines, which includes condition monitoring.

Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance working together

To keep costs as low as possible, industrial companies take advantage of the opportunity to use machines as much as possible. This pushes them to the limits of their load. This calls for alternatives to keep the devices running stably with the help of modern monitoring systems and thus reduce costs. Thanks to condition monitoring, an ideal foundation has been laid for maintaining machines with foresight. The regular maintenance routine is therefore replaced by a forward-looking, innovative alternative to condition monitoring. As a result, devices can be utilized to their limits without compromising the safety of employees and machinery.

The data is not only recorded but also digitized, processed, and transmitted. Condition monitoring in combination with predictive maintenance also stores, analyzes, and evaluates the data. When faults occur, the data is recorded and used as the basis for future fault forecasts. The machines and plants must be equipped with sensors and techniques for real-time analysis to make this possible. To handle these massive amounts of data, a modern database solution is needed that the system can access quickly so that data can be analyzed accordingly.

The strengths of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance as a dream team

Predictive maintenance and condition monitoring is an unbeatable dream team. Both offer the following advantages when used together:

  • Maintenance can be precisely predicted.
  • The cost of repairs is reduced.
  • Sudden failure of machines and systems is reduced or eliminated.
  • Times during which devices are out of service due to repairs are reduced.
  • The life expectancy of devices and systems increases as possible repairs are detected at an early stage.
  • The entire procurement process for spare parts is improved.
  • The safety of devices, procedures, and people is increased.
  • Accidents are reduced.

Use of sensors

Only the use of sensors makes it possible for Condition Monitoring to be applied to machines and plants. Among others, there are the following types of sensors:

  • Pressure sensors
  • Vibration sensors
  • Sensors with Hall effect
  • Sensors with infrared technology
  • Sensors that can measure temperature

Application areas of the sensors are, for example:

  • Machines that use injection molding technology as well as forklifts: sensors control the amount of hydraulic oil.
  • Cooling units: sensors measure the temperature of gases and liquids of cooling units.
  • Machines that produce packaging: Sensors check whether the air consumption and pressure always have the correct values.
  • Centrifuges: Here, the sensors check whether the speed of the rotating axis is correct.

Goals: What should be achieved?

Condition monitoring is mainly used for two specific goals:

How is the condition of the machine monitored?

Sensors mounted on the machines and equipment allow them to be checked for their condition. In this way, any errors that may occur are detected in advance.

The following points are necessary to monitor the condition of machines:

Achieving ideal control with condition monitoring systems

Condition monitoring systems (CMS) evaluate the transmitted data from machines and serve as a data collection point. They then pass on the collected data to various end devices on request. This makes it possible for personnel to provide the required data of specific machines. These data are of high importance for employees of maintenance, process management as well as quality management. The evaluated data can be used to draw conclusions about sources of error and to eliminate or avoid them in the future. But this data is also helpful to building management because it can be used, for example, to check and improve the temperature of buildings and the condition of security doors.

These are the benefits you get by using condition monitoring

  • Reduction of planned maintenance
  • Intelligent and predictive replacement of faulty tools
  • Prerequisite for industrial Internet of Things
  • Increase availability of equipment
  • Reduce service losses
  • Improve staffing levels
  • Reduce risk

What is Collaborative Condition Monitoring? A look into the future

So far, regular condition monitoring has been discussed. In a supply chain, the manufacturing process of a machine looks like this; for example, the various individual parts of the device were delivered by an individual parts manufacturer to the manufacturer of the machine. They, in turn, assemble the machine and make the finished machine available to an industrial company. The whole thing makes up the supply chain. Conventional condition monitoring exchanges the acquired data with each other. It is only visible to one part of the chain, for example, between the industrial company and the machine manufacturer. The individual part supplier is left out. This makes optimization of the entire condition monitoring process impossible.

This is where Collaborative Condition Monitoring comes in. The data from condition monitoring is available to individuals involved in the value chain and to all those involved in the value chain. This is realized through digital access that all participants can use. In this way, the value chain is improved by the newly added collaboration. Everyone has the same insights into any malfunctions that may occur or into the monitoring process. In the future, this will enable machines to have a longer life expectancy, as the data from condition monitoring is available for each part of the supply chain.

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