Among modern maintenance strategies, condition-based maintenance (CBM) stands out as one of the main options for maintenance teams looking to ensure the longevity and efficiency of their assets. As James Binckly, Product Manager at Fiix by Rockwell Automation says, “Condition-based maintenance isn’t just a strategy; it’s a tool for maintenance managers to use. It empowers them to proactively address potential issues, optimize performance, and ensure our products not only meet but exceed expectations.”
This blog is your criteria guide as a decision-maker in maintenance for selecting the best condition-based maintenance solution. We will also share some tips for CBM implementation, training, and change management. Let’s get started.
Understanding the need for a tailored CBM solution
Decision-makers can, unfortunately, find themselves facing challenges when selecting the right condition-based maintenance solution that aligns with their organizational needs. For example, you may find an overload of different technology to choose from, or maybe your organization’s operations don’t fit into the one-size-fits-all solution, or maybe your team is facing budget constraints.
In addition, one of the biggest considerations is IT’s support in implementing the condition-based maintenance solution. Since all CBM solutions are accessing data on the plant floor, ensuring that IT is aware and comfortable with the different tools from a data perspective is critical. This is because any kind of installation or firewall changes to allow certain domains access can pose a security risk, so IT’s support is required for the success of any CBM solution implementation.
It’s important to remember that maintenance teams need to go from having data living in a PLC, to have something read from the PLC and read the data, and then finally, send that data to a CMMS like Fiix to understand it. So having IT’s evaluation of the data translation, security, and risks are part of the overall challenge that some decision-makers can face, especially since it takes time for IT to review these solutions from all angles.
Whatever challenge you’re facing, a tailored CBM solution will ensure alignment with your existing operational framework and can maximize your maintenance team’s effectiveness. Integrating a CBM solution offers maintenance teams cost efficiencies, since it minimizes unnecessary maintenance and cuts downtime. It also increases equipment availability, by monitoring the condition of the equipment and targeting maintenance interventions.
As a decision-maker, you’re responsible for creating a business case. If you have team members in the plant taking daily meter readings, you can use that to build your ROI. Focus on the key equipment you want to connect to. Don’t try to connect to everything, focus on key machinery.
That said, there are some key criteria that help evaluate the best CBM solution for your team, which we review below.
Key criteria for evaluating CBM solutions
Okay, so, what are the key criteria for evaluating a CBM solution, and why does it even matter? According to our Solutions Engineer Manager, Jason Afara, “Using criteria to evaluate a condition-based maintenance solution isn’t just best practice; it’s good maintenance management. Criteria can act like a compass to help leaders understand their options.” Essentially, criteria for evaluation help guide you to choose the best option based on your organization’s needs and probably saves you a lot of time in the process. Here are the criteria for evaluating a CBM solution:
- Your organization’s specific needs
Understanding your requirements is the first step in the process. This needs to be mapped out and solidified with the different stakeholders in your organization (i.e., finance and operations teams). Once it’s defined, you can compare your needs to the CBM solution offers.
- Capabilities for scalability and seamless integration
Take the time to really explore the importance of scaling and integration at your organization, and make sure that the CBM solution you choose aligns with your existing systems and future systems. A CBM solution can take operations seasonality into account, and you won’t be over PMing your equipment – thus saving on costs.
- Real-time data capabilities
Ask yourself: Does this CBM solution offer real-time data? Is that important to my team’s operation? If you answer yes to both questions (as most maintenance leaders will), you must see if the CBM offers real-time data and how the solution contributes to asset criticality analysis.
The next step is to review the comparison factors. “Most decision-makers will want to do an in-depth vendor comparison before committing, so you want to make sure you get it right,” says Jason.
Vendor comparison serves as the litmus test and lets decision-makers like yourself seriously scrutinize the solution and decide if it aligns with your operations and needs. As Jason puts it, implementing a new solution incurs costs, so you want to be as precise as possible.
He adds, “Vendor comparison lets you see if the solution aligns with your needs, and a cost-benefit analysis is your map to see if it fits within a maintenance team’s budget, or not. Maintenance leaders and decision-makers need to see in the cost-benefit analysis if it’s going to max returns.”
So that brings us to our next point.
The two big comparison factors for your CBM solution evaluation
- Vendor comparison
Compare and contrast CBM solution providers to make an informed decision on the vendor that best suits your organization’s needs.
- Cost-benefit analysis
Conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis to ensure your chosen solution aligns with your budget constraints while maximizing returns.
Once you get through these comparison factors, you can feel a lot more confident in making your selection for a CBM solution. As a maintenance manager, you’ll make a recommendation to the group based on the tools available, price, and the proposed benefits and ROI. Let’s review some real-world success stories.
Real-world success stories
Tom, the maintenance manager at Perth County Ingredients (PCI), successfully implemented changes at his facility that led to a 54% reduction in reactive maintenance, a 47% decrease in after-hours call-ins, and a $40,000 annual savings in maintenance costs. Tom achieved this by introducing a building automation system (BAS) and a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), specifically using Fiix.
Initially facing a scenario where 100% of maintenance was reactive, Tom implemented Fiix to shift the focus to proactive, scheduled and condition-based maintenance. The CMMS, combined with the facility’s existing BAS, streamlined work orders, scheduled maintenance, and improved troubleshooting efficiency. Tom provided tablets to the maintenance team with the Fiix app, enabling quick access to information, standard operating procedures, and the BAS.
Recognizing the success, the VP of operations expanded the implementation of Fiix to seven other facilities, allowing centralized monitoring and automation across multiple locations. Tom collaborated with Fiix’s integration partner, Majik Systems, to connect PLCs to the CMMS, enabling real-time data collection on equipment conditions. This integration resulted in a $40,000 annual cost savings within nine months, with a 300% return on investment.
“We’re saving $40,000 a year with condition-based maintenance.”
The integration with Majik Systems allowed Tom to monitor equipment conditions, track machine readings, and automatically generate work orders based on predefined thresholds. The success prompted Tom to further optimize the maintenance schedule and explore smarter capital expenditure decisions. The integration also facilitated remote monitoring and maintenance, supporting the facility’s 24/7 operation.
A 54% drop in reactive maintenance
A 47% reduction in after-hours call-ins
A $40,000 decrease in maintenance costs
Zero employee turnover in six years
In a later update, it was reported that after-hours call-ins reduced from 47 to just 8, and PCI continued to enhance efficiency. The integration of Fiix with operational technology automated data collection, and Asset Risk Predictor was introduced for predictive maintenance measures. Tom emphasized the importance of achieving a healthy work-life balance for the maintenance team and credited Fiix and Asset Risk Predictor for contributing to PCI’s success and zero employee turnover.
Implementation and training
Implementing a condition-based maintenance (CBM) solution requires a lot of careful planning and strategic execution. One of the biggest mistakes decision-makers can make is poorly planning their implementation and training program for their maintenance team.
This section will guide you through the key steps involved in the implementation process, emphasizing the critical role of training and change management for a seamless transition.
The steps to implement a CBM solution
- Plan for implementation
- Conduct a thorough analysis of your current maintenance processes and systems to identify areas where CBM can be integrated effectively. Have your assets and meter readings ready and know what you want to connect to.
- Clearly outline the goals and objectives you aim to achieve with the implementation of CBM. Whether it’s reducing downtime, extending equipment lifespan, or optimizing maintenance costs, having well-defined objectives is crucial.
- Choose CBM tools and technologies that align with your organization’s specific needs and equipment types. This may include sensors, data analytics platforms, and predictive maintenance software.
- Ensure a smooth transition to the new CBM solution
- Before full-scale implementation, consider running pilot programs to test the CBM solution on a smaller scale. This allows you to identify and address any potential challenges or issues.
- Ensure that the CBM solution seamlessly integrates with your current maintenance management system, and other relevant software.
- Have a plan for training and change management
- Develop comprehensive training programs for maintenance teams to familiarize them with CBM principles, tools, and technologies.
- Celebrate the wins. Share impactful success stories with team members.
- Emphasize the importance of data interpretation and understanding the insights provided by CBM tools to make informed maintenance decisions.
- Emphasize the importance of training programs for staff
- Recognize that CBM is an evolving field. Encourage continuous learning and provide resources for staff to stay updated on new developments in CBM technologies and methodologies.
- Consider providing cross-functional training to enable collaboration between maintenance, IT, and data analysis teams, fostering a holistic understanding of CBM across departments.
- Create strategies for managing organizational change during CBM implementation
- Develop clear and consistent communication plans to keep all stakeholders informed about the changes. Highlight the benefits of CBM and address any concerns or misconceptions. Review changes monthly or quarterly and report back to team members with the new changes.
- Identify and empower change champions within the organization who can advocate for CBM, answer questions, and support their colleagues through the transition.
- Keep a record of data from equipment
- Establish standardized protocols for collecting and storing data from equipment. Ensure that data is consistently and accurately recorded to maintain the integrity of CBM insights.
The significance of condition-based maintenance (CBM) cannot be overstated. As James Binckly puts it, CBM is not just a strategy but a powerful tool that empowers maintenance managers to proactively address potential issues, optimize performance, and surpass expectations.
Real-world success stories, like Tom’s transformative experience at Perth County Ingredients, underscore the tangible benefits of CBM implementation. Achieving a 54% drop in reactive maintenance, a 47% reduction in after-hours call-ins, and significant cost savings demonstrates the potential impact of a well-chosen condition-based maintenance solution. These success stories serve as compelling evidence of CBM’s transformative power.
The journey toward effective condition-based maintenance is a dynamic process that demands strategic decision-making, careful evaluation, and seamless implementation.