Meet the Key Pillars of Equipment Condition Monitoring
Condition monitoring is a rising area of interest for manufacturers in every sector. Keeping a sharp eye on equipment and its performance can stave off breakdowns and defects leading to downtime. But condition monitoring methods differ depending on the equipment in question. As manufacturers seek to ensure the condition and performance of their equipment, there are numerous variables and methods they should consider. Condition monitoring methods include:
- Acoustic analysis. This approach involves the use of high-frequency soundwaves to monitor equipment and detect faults like leaks and cavitation. Acoustic analysis can detect slight changes in friction forces other analysis methods can miss.
- Electrical monitoring. Electrical monitoring finds faults and defects by measuring degradation trends in a particular electrical system. This method monitors induction, pulse response, resistance failure, and frequency response.
- Electromagnetic measurement. Electromagnetic measurement creates an electromagnetic field within an object which causes disturbances technicians can later analyze or measure. Through the measurement of eddy current changes and magnetic fields, techs can identify possible defects, including corrosion and cracks.
- Laser interferometry. Used to identify defects in composites and similar materials, laser interferometry uses an accurate wavelength of laser-generated light to measure changes in wave displacement. The laser creates interference in light waves, which technicians measure with a device called an interferometer. Manufacturers use laser interferometry to check for surface defects and corrosion.
- Motor circuit analysis. This method of analysis uses a series of computerized tests to thoroughly inspect an electric motor’s condition. By using voltage- or current-based tests, technicians check for electrical imbalances and insulation degradation — the main causes of electric motor failure.
- Performance monitoring. In performance monitoring, technicians use visual and tactile inspections to track output, check manufacturing performance, and identify deviations in results. Since this method doesn’t utilize advanced technological testing, it relies on accurate record keeping.
- Radiography. Corrosion and other machinery flaws absorb radiation differently. Technicians use radiography to identify equipment flaws through radiation imaging. Many manufacturers prefer this method of equipment condition monitoring as it’s less invasive than others.
- Thermography. Technicians can study heat patterns emitted from equipment to catch failures before they occur. By examining images showing thermal radiation patterns, data analysts check for misalignment, improper lubrication, imbalance, worn-out components, and several other potential issues.
- Tribology. This approach allows technicians to determine the condition of equipment by testing its oils and other fluids. Over time, contaminates can get into machine fluids and cause overheating or mechanical failure.
- Vibration Analysis. This method involves monitoring the vibration patterns of equipment to identify defects caused by misalignment, design flaws, and wear-and-tear. Techniques for vibration analysis include shock pulse analysis, fast Fourier transforms (FFT), and broadband vibration analysis.
Condition monitoring provides real-time insight into the essential factors that contribute to machine performance. As soon as variables rise above — or fall below — acceptable operating thresholds, manufacturers can act to prevent serious problems. It’s both a gateway to better preventive maintenance and an unprecedented level of factory automation.