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How long does it have? My equipment is failing!


industry-94448_1920.jpgAs a reliability specialist you often get asked the question, “How long does it have?” or "How long will it last?" after you have determined an issue such as, bearing fault, gear tooth damage, or even imbalance? If you have asked the question or been asked then you’re in the same boat many others have been in before you. The short answer is NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE! Typically, we can compare similar situations of past experiences and determine an estimated answer, but not a definite period of time.

The truth is even though someone may have a knowledge in predictive service items such as, age, environment, load, mass, speed, lubrication, and many other factors play a huge role in determining life expectancy after an issue is discovered. For example, if you have two exact applications (Same motor, bearings, lubrication, load, etc...) one being an 80-degree ambient temperature environment and the other being in a 120-degree ambient environment.The temperature difference applied will generally cause the damage to occur in the machine with higher temperature at a faster rate. This is due to temperature changing metal fatigue rate, lubrication viscosity, and other factors.

What it really comes down to when you get asked or are asking the question “How long does it have?” is that you really need to take in account the experience of the specialist. Here are some simple questions to ensure you are getting the right individual for the job.


What level of certification do they hold and what does that level encompass?

  • Levels of certification means A LOT when it comes to predictive services (vibration analysis, oil analysis, etc.). It is the difference between basic knowledge and an extensive background with years of on the job training required between each level of certification. Most reputable Institutes will have extensive documentation on their websites that describes each level and what it takes to become certified.


What certifying agency is it from?

  • There are many places to become certified but some hold certifications to a higher standard such as institutes that don’t just comply but certify individuals through ISO standards.


How long have they been performing the type of work in the field you are requesting?

  • When asking this question make sure what industry/type of equipment you are looking for is a part of their answer and how often the services to a facility or equipment like yours has taken place.


What other types of industry have they performed services for?

  • This will give you an idea of how comprehensive their background is in the related field.


So, there is NO WAY to definitively determine the length of a machines life after an issue has been discovered. However, if the specialist has the years of experience in the related industry, certification, and can use the determining factors listed above. A relative time line should be able to be created and give you the best and worst-case scenario of your machines life. In Conclusion, if you want the best answer for your equipment you must start with the specialist that is giving the analysis.


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Adam Smith, CMRT



Adam Smith, CMRT is a Reliability Specialist with HECO PSG and an ANSI/ISO Certified Vibration Analyst, Category II. He is a Certified Reliability and Maintenance Technician (CMRT) through the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP).

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