What is Condition Based Maintenance (CBM)

What is Condition based maintenance?

Condition based maintenance (CBM) is an effective way to reduce maintenance costs and improve plant availability because it reduces unnecessary intrusive maintenance and prevents unplanned failures. Sensors are used to measure the operational behaviour of the components within the assets, which are then analysed and interpreted to allow an understanding of the machine health.


The picture above shows some examples of the similarities of human health monitoring and condition-based maintenance. Monitoring our heartbeat is like taking vibration data from a motor and the change in temperature is an indication of health in both humans and assets. Like blood testing, oil analysis can tell us a lot about the health of the bodies internal working system and the oil itself. There are hundreds of health tests at a doctor’s and CBM engineers’ disposal, the trick is to understand which one to use.

By measuring the equipment’s behaviour and parameter levels over time, engineers can understand the health of the equipment and predict failures before they occur.

Where can Condition-based maintenance be used?

The four main techniques of CBM are vibration, thermography, ultrasonics, and oil analysis, and can be used on a variety of components and assets such as motor, gearboxes, fans, pumps, electrical components and hydraulics. As well as these, everyday process conditions can also be used for condition monitoring, these include pressure, flow, temperature and current. There are also more specialist condition monitoring sensors that can also be considered for chain stretch, valve condition, and stress wave (metal on metal, slow speed rotation)

How to ensure it is cost effective

Although condition-based maintenance is more cost effective then reactive and traditional preventative maintenance, due to the benefits outline below, it is still a costly exercise. To ensure your CBM is cost effective it should be reserved for more critical plant, including that which is of high capital value, production intensive or where a safety issue exists.

Assets should be assessed by completing a criticality analysis which is aligned to the overall business objectives. The criteria on the scoring system can include cost to replace, downtime, redundancy, and anything else that can have a business impact.

What are the benefits of CBM?

The inadequacies in traditional preventive maintenance plans are highlighted when a major failure occurs, causing expensive machine damage and possibly lost business. The CBM approach allows failures to be avoided or mitigated by detecting early deterioration. CBM has the following benefits:

  • better planning of repairs is possible, i.e. out of production time
  • inconvenient breakdowns and expensive consequential damage are avoided
  • the failure rate is reduced, thus improving plant availability and reliability
  • reduced spares inventory
  • unnecessary work is avoided.
  • It is possible to prevent unnecessary strip‐down which can induce failure.
  • Support cultural move to proactive mindset.
  • Introduction of datums points
  • Priority of work based on component deterioration.

Is CBM a part of Industry 4.0?

 Traditionally a lot of CBM data was collected using handheld data collection devices by a service engineer. The cost structure of this traditional method is still not redundant and has a part to play in the transition to Industry 4.0. However, there are an increasing number of Industry 4.0 CBM solutions coming to the market. These systems offer cloud-based data collection and analytics, with integration to current plant control systems. With technology improving at an incredible pace, systems are becoming more cost effective and are starting to deliver good value on the most critical of assets.

The golden rules to setting up your CBM program.

There are a number of Golden rules for the introduction of your CBM program:

  • Carry out criticality analysis (linked to business objectives) to identify asset suitable for CBM.
  • Understand what can be predicted and what the system is capable of.
  • Don’t just use the traditional CBM techniques use process measurements as well.
  • Corroborate predictions of different technologies.
  • Understand the management/work load requirements of all of the CBM systems.
  • Modify your current maintenance practices (remove intrusive PM’s)
  • Trust the results and take action.

How can 53North support?

53North have an experienced team that have already supported over 200 FMCG sites to implement an effective CBM strategy. Our advantage is that we have the skills to understand the complete asset care requirements, including developing all maintenance requirements and creating a full lubrication schedule.  Our implementation strategy is aligned to the business needs and considers the current site culture. CBM can be 100% delivered internally, 100% delivered by us, 100% delivered using fixed systems or anything in between. Because we remain totally independent of technology suppliers, we only recommend what can detect the failure modes for the assets you have (We have lost count of the vibration systems installed on slow speed applications and failed to detect equipment deterioration). Our analysis centre can review data collected live or by your inhouse team and our application system bring together vibration, thermal, ultrasonic, and oil analysis into one reporting system.

If you would like more information about how we can support your asset care journey please contact us on +44 114 299 5007, enquiries@53northgroup.com