Is Condition Based Maintenance Right for Your Industrial Electronic Equipment?

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Yep, we’ve heard that a time or two or three.  On the face of it, Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) theory might seem like just another version of that casual approach to maintenance.  But not exactly, as this would be way over simplifying and CBM is anything but simple or casual.

In reality, CBM is a first cousin to Preventive and Predictive Maintenance since they use some of the same techniques.   As we see it, the CBM approach appears to be experiencing a new jump in popularity.

In simple terms, CBM is maintenance initiated based on the asset or equipment’s actual condition at any given moment. The more modern spin on this is that companies that practice CBM are using continuous test meters on each piece of equipment.

If this sounds expensive to you, you would be right.  But used selectively on the most expensive and critical assets, the higher cost of CBM can outweigh the potential catastrophic breakdown that sometimes even a small failure can cause.  Better control equals better results and, theoretically, longer life for your equipment.

If CBM isn’t right for your plant, and it isn’t for many plants, than what other approaches might you use?  Here’s a very brief breakdown of the common options (definitions do tend to vary by industry):

  • Predictive Maintenance (PdM) – Measurements of in-service equipment to statistically predict when maintenance should be performed to prevent unexpected failures (typically nondestructive testing such as infrared, acoustic, vibration analysis, etc.)
  • Preventive Maintenance (PM) – a system of checklists and OEM recommendations to create a program of regularly scheduled maintenance
  •  Failure Based Maintenance – this is the extremely common  “run it ‘til it breaks” approach which doesn’t usually mean zero maintenance; it is “reactive” while the other three listed are “proactive”
  • Condition Based Maintenance –  Continuous measuring (such as thermography, vibration, oil, heat, and electronic load testing) of specific assets from industrial electronic equipment to roofing systems, all based on established norms for each so that failures can be averted. (some consider PdM and CBM to be the same however, we respectfully disagree)

So, which one is best for your industrial electronic equipment?

It all depends on variables including:   your budget, the value of your equipment, whether you have a computer maintenance management system (CMMS), your staffing capabilities and training, your corporate culture toward maintenance and change, he level of satisfaction with your current maintenance effectiveness, production schedules and demands.   You and your team will need to spend a little time analyzing all of these variables and the costs associated before making an educated decision.

Whatever choice you make, you will at some point require the services of an industrial electronic repair service.  Circuit board repairs, encoder repairs, and other similar repairs can be quickly and easily done by expert technicians.  Choose a company that best suits your needs.  The best service companies will provide free evaluations, a warranty that covers both parts and labor, and rush service when needed.