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Why You Need to Implement a Condition-Based Monitoring Process

Last week, we talked about the importance of investing in tools and technology, but equally as important would be the process that you use in your facility. There are a lot of facilities that don’t really have much of a process but instead approach with the old-fashioned way – they either go with the flow and make educated guesses or wait for the problems to occur before they react. This is not efficient and will only create headaches. If you want to hold your facility up to a high standard of quality that will lead to long-term success, I recommend taking the time to implement a condition-based monitoring (CBM) procedure throughout your facility, and that starts at the top of the hierarchy.

There are 5 different tiers of procedures and processes involved when it comes to CBM. In fact, in our very own Maturity Matrix chart (see below), we matched many of the suggested metrics to the SMRP’s Best Practices metrics. For example, a facility in the Level I tier would have no formal CBM process established. However, in the top tier, World Class, a facility would have a CBM program in place with routes, data collection, documentation and analysis, reporting and follow-up, and tracking downtime cost avoidance. This process should also be shared at the corporate level to ensure all knowledge is distributed and practices are made standard throughout the facility. With 3 tiers in between the lowest and highest tier, most facilities will fall in the middle, but we should all be striving to be in the World Class tier.

Why should you strive for this? The answer is easy – you will get better results. The common saying is if you do something for 21 days in a row, it becomes a habit. Well, the same can be said for this – if you develop and implement a process that your staff follows every day, it will naturally become a habit and each day will be a little easier. Plus, if you have a standard procedure in place, you will find that you will not only be able to prevent issues more efficiently from happening in the first place, but you will also be able to trace your steps back to figure out where and how the problem began in the first place.

Another step to this process that often gets overlooked, however, is documentation and reporting. You may have a process in place, but what happens after the problem occurs and is solved? There needs to be documentation that a particular event happened, how it happened, when it happened, how it was solved, etc. This is important because this will allow you to know and understand the history of issues with a certain piece of equipment, pipe, bearing, etc., and it will lead you in the right direction of how to fix it. It will also allow the information and knowledge to be spread throughout the company – for example, when you are dealing with turnover and are hiring new employees. Proper documentation and reporting of your plant’s history will allow employees to pick up right where another person left off and offer a better understanding of what they are working with.

Arguably the biggest reason to strive for the World Class tier of the Maturity Matrix with implementing a standard process is that it allows you to have a better sense of control over things you previously had no control over, particularly when it comes to unexpected downtime. Unexpected downtime exists in all plants and factories, and it always seems to come at the most inopportune times. With a standard process of CBM in place, you are setting yourself up for not only less downtime in general because you’re addressing the problems before they become a failure, but you will also get an idea of when something is beginning to get serious, and downtime could occur. In other words, it will allow you to adjust and prepare for upcoming downtime, and it’s going to be a lot more manageable.

In conclusion, there are several benefits to taking the time to set up a proper CBM process in your facility. In fact, CBM is so important to the success and efficiency of all facilities, that the SMRP’s Best Practices Committee recommends a target value of at least 15% of all maintenance hours be dedicated to CBM. While it may seem like a lot of work to set the process up and slowly alter habits already present, taking the time to properly implement a CBM process will be worth your while. It won’t just be your current and future employees thanking you for having set a standard of quality and accountability – your machines and equipment will be thanking you, too. And running a lot longer.