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SimpleFM | Facilities Maintenance Insights

What is Condition-Based Maintenance?

a busy cafe or bar with lots of people in

In a previous blog, we talked about the benefits of preventative maintenance over reactive maintenance in Facility Management.  As the name implies, reactive maintenance is waiting until there is a problem and being forced to handle it on an emergency basis.  Preventative maintenance aims to prevent problems by regularly inspecting, cleaning, and maintaining all of your system’s components to make sure everything is in good working order.  The latter approach consistently lowers costs and minimizes downtime in the long run.

Today, we focus on a type of preventative maintenance called condition-based maintenance or CBM.  CBM involves making maintenance decisions based on the actual condition of a system as determined by remote sensors or on-site inspections, as opposed to performing maintenance on a rigid schedule.

To clarify, let’s consider the analogy of changing your car’s engine oil.  Reactive maintenance would mean waiting to change your oil until blue smoke is coming out of your exhaust pipe or the “check engine” light comes on.  At this point, damage may have already taken place, shortening the engine’s lifespan.  While this approach may reduce your expenditure on oil changes, it is also likely to require much more expensive repairs in the long run, leaving you much worse off.

In contrast, preventative maintenance in this analogy would mean changing your oil on a regular basis to prevent problems.  The traditional approach is for the manufacturer to provide a mileage or time-based schedule such as every three months or 3,000 miles.  This works well in many cases, but comes with some inherent limitations.  First, you may be changing your oil more often than is really needed, leading to additional downtime (taking a morning to go to the shop) and extra expense.  Conversely, if you are driving in extreme conditions you may not be changing the oil often enough, risking some of the problems associated with reactive maintenance.

Using a CBM approach would mean making the decision to change your oil based on the actual condition of the oil over time.  The condition could be ascertained either by a manual inspection or by the use of built-in sensors that transmit information remotely in real-time.  By using CBM, you change your oil when it needs to be changed – not before and not after – resulting in an optimization of performance and cost.

IoT as Condition-Based Maintenance Enabler

CBM has historically been limited to large-scale operations such as power plants or factories – places with sophisticated instrumentation built into their processes.  However, the explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) is making real-time remote sensing increasingly affordable and accessible.  In fact, IoT is consistently listed as the most important emerging trend in facilities management by industry leaders.  If you have a refrigerator that allows you to see the condition of your water filter and change your temperature settings from anywhere in the world via your smartphone, then you have seen IoT in action.

Taking Your Preventative Maintenance Program to the Next Level 

SimpleFM is in the business of helping your organization optimize your facility management and take advantage of the latest thinking in facility management.  If you’re ready to explore how we can help you take your FM programs to the next level, reach out to us today.  Sign up for a Demo or email us at sales@simplefm.com.

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