The integration of condition monitoring is crucial to developing a robust, condition based maintenance strategy or predictive maintenance approach for machinery and equipment used in industrial applications.
Condition monitoring starts with using permanently installed sensors to collect data which is then used to analyse changes in the performance or condition of a machine component while it is in operation. Any change in the performance or condition of the component that deviates from its standard parameters can be an indication of early-stage wear and deterioration. Condition monitoring not only describes the present state of a component, but also provides objective data which can be interpreted to predict its remaining useful life while in operation.
Operators are able to use this knowledge to shape maintenance schedules and inform component repair before catastrophic failure occurs. Condition monitoring, therefore, plays a vital role in both avoiding unplanned downtime and in calculating the life expectancy of an overall plant.
The following techniques can be used solely, or in combination, to monitor the performance of machinery or a component whilst in operation or offline: vibration analysis; acoustic emission testing; thermograph; visual inspection and wear debris analysis such as ferrography and spectrography.
TWI has a dedicated group of highly skilled engineers who use state-of-the-art equipment – such as the Fluke Ti 30 portable thermal imaging camera, the LOT Oriel/Thermal wave imaging Inc system and acoustic emission testing equipment from M/s Physical Acoustics – to undertake a wide range of condition monitoring activities.
Benefits of condition monitoring
The application of data supplied by condition monitoring techniques has many benefits. By informing root cause analysis, when to take preventative action to avoid failure and assessment of a component’s full lifecycle capacity – it enables operators to manage risk more effectively, and optimise their maintenance and service activities,. This leads to increased reliability and production output, helping to eliminate unplanned shutdowns by up to 75% (in a typical plant with proper implementation) and minimised maintenance costs.
Condition monitoring informs the detection and checking of leaks, cavitation and flow. It is widely used in the oil & gas industry for management of pressure vessels, storage tanks, pipelines and piping. It can be applied to aircraft and aging vehicles, and has been implemented by TWI in the rail industry using vibration analysis for train door control systems and wireless for railway condition monitoring. TWI has also used condition monitoring to evaluate the overall operational condition of a wind turbine's machinery and rotating components; generator, gearbox bearings and main shaft.
For more information, please explore the following projects to read examples of condition monitoring as applied in industry:
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