Focused Monitoring: A Strategic Approach to Preventative Maintenance and Condition Monitoring

Submitted by Corey Foster || Valin Corporation
Preventative maintenance and condition monitoring are not only independent concepts, but they are also ones that should not be treated with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It’s all about the application.

In order to prevent a potential issue from arising, we must not only know what we are trying to prevent, but we also need to understand the conditions leading up to the failure. Analyzing the challenge and the circumstances surrounding the challenge is the only way to be successful. Because these two concepts are so tightly connected, however, too often they are co-mingled into one effort. 

Preventative maintenance and condition monitoring

Often, an approach that many prefer involves measuring everything. Well, maybe not absolutely everything, but certainly enough factors so that the exercise is both cost prohibitive and labor intensive. When you get into the practicality of it, sensors can be expensive and so can integration into your system. Furthermore, finding a way to display all this information in a useful way can also be costly.  It just isn’t very practical to try to measure “everything.”  It makes much more sense to zero in where the failure points are most likely to occur and monitor those areas specifically.

To better focus on the failure points, start with what you know. For example, if there has been a past problem that you know you need to prevent, it is much easier to estimate what elements should be monitored.  In these situations, it is well worth the investment to install condition-monitoring sensors.

There is a great example of Valin helping a company in a very similar situation. We had a customer that operated in a dry environment and ran north of 120 variable frequency drives (VFDs) in its process.  They didn’t believe that they would need to monitor for humidity in climate they operated, but sure enough they began to see their VFDs fail.  After a spike in humidity, they would need to replace 8-10 of these VFDs. Once everyone realized it was the humidity that was causing these failures, our team helped them select and install the proper sensors.  Now they can rest assured that protections are in place should the issue arise again. 

I had an article published in Design News last year on this subject, where I outlined the complete case study regarding the customer mentioned above. I encourage you to give it a read if you have the opportunity.