Remote condition monitoring is a popular buzzword in industry today -- is it time for you to switch?
How Remote Condition Monitoring Works
Remote condition monitoring allows you to track the condition and performance of all your rotating equipment remotely in real-time and download the data for visualization and analysis. In addition, it can be configured to send you alerts when certain conditions are detected.
When used with rotating equipment, these systems can provide invaluable information about vibration, temperature, balance, and performance for fans, pumps, and motors. Many facilities are investing in remote condition monitoring for their equipment ... but is it right for your company?
Using the Data
It won't come as a surprise that you can collect a tremendous amount of data with this type of equipment monitoring. The sheer amount of data can be overwhelming, but the use of analysis software and visualization tools can take that raw data and turn it into actionable information. This information can indicate when your rotating equipment is about to go out (allowing you to take action preemptively), recognize trends in performance, or have data to justify the replacement or refurbishment of an electric motor, pump, or fan, for example.
Benefits of Remote Condition Monitoring
Used correctly, remote condition monitoring has the potential to really overhaul your maintenance program for the better. Here are some of the most common benefits to maintenance programs that use them:
- Provide continuous monitoring for all your rotating equipment
- Speed up the trouble-shooting process
- Setup alarms for certain parameters so that a problem or impending failure doesn't get out of hand
- Monitor your equipment from anywhere
- Evaluate the overall health of your rotating equipment
- Reduce average downtime and mean time to failure
In addition, remote condition monitoring can serve as a integral part of your PdM (Predictive Maintenance) program.
Notice in the previous section that I used the word "potential." There are many remote condition monitoring deployments that fail, and you don't want to be in that group. There are key considerations that you need to take into account when even considering one of these systems for your equipment. One of the most important ones is whether you are going use the data generated.
If you already perform traditional CBM (Condition-Based Maintenance), how consistent is your maintenance team in implementing the items that it flags? If you don't follow up on that data, why would you follow up on the data provided by remote condition monitoring?
Do you or someone on your team have the technical skills to properly analyze the data and make recommendations? If the data is not analyzed and interpreted correctly, it will essentially be useless to you.
If you are performing remote monitoring of vibration conditions, do you have a certified vibration analyst that is setup to review the data and make recommendations? Once again, it makes no sense to gather data that you cannot use correctly.
Taking a Long Term View
There are a quite a few remote condition monitoring solutions on the market today and more are being engineered. Investing in a remote condition monitoring system is a significant investment for your company. That's why it is so important to choose the right one.
A good analogy for this is the market battle that took place between Blackberry and Apple, and we know who won. Which solution will still be around providing support, updates, and improvements in the next five years? Be smart when choosing a remote condition monitor for the rotating equipment under your care.
Looking at it in the Short Term
In the short term, the choice to invest in a remote condition monitoring system essentially boils down to a financial decision. Does the equipment cost or downtime cost legitimately justify the expense? If the cost is too much, keep in mind that the cost of sensors and data analysis are coming down and it may be affordable in the future.
When Not to Switch
Before purchasing a remote monitoring system for your rotating equipment, you must establish that you will do something with the data. You also need someone on the maintenance team that can analyze and interpret the data correctly, especially when it comes to vibration data. You must commit to taking action based on the data -- if you and your team cannot commit to this, then a remote monitoring system would be a waste of time and money because if you don't use the data it is impossible to reap the benefits.
When to Switch
If you are willing to put in the research to find the most promising remote condition monitoring system, commit to using the data it generates, and have people on the team who know how to analyze and interpret the data, then it may well be time for you to make the switch.
You want to minimize the downtime of your electric motors, pumps, and fans while getting the best possible performance out of them. While remote condition monitoring may work for you, it's not a case of "one-size-fits-all." If you need some advice, contact HECO today -- we would be happy to put our experience to work for you and recommend the best solutions to all your rotating equipment maintenance and monitoring needs.