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Machine Condition Monitoring

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What is Machine Condition Monitoring?

Unlike machine monitoring which just tells you whether or not a machine is online, machine condition monitoring provides more detailed information into the health of a piece of machinery. This includes things like efficiency, wear and tear, number of defective pieces produced, as well as maintenance and usage statistics. 

Machine condition monitoring is generally used to help factory managers better understand when machines require maintenance so that they can be more proactive in scheduling preventative care. 

The Benefits of Machine Condition Monitoring 

A large portion of a factory’s budget is spent on machine maintenance. With ongoing machine condition monitoring, factory manager’s can have a better handle on when to schedule preventive maintenance, when to fix certain parts of a machine, and when it’s time to replace the entire thing.

By identifying potential issues in advance, before they turn into major problems, machine condition monitoring provides numerous benefits including:

  • Reduction of downtime 
  • Increased efficiency
  • Better cost predictions
  • Easier management of spare parts
  • More effective maintenance scheduling
  • Accurate predictions of production

How to Monitor Machine Conditions

There are three ways that factories can monitor machine conditions:

Manual Condition Monitoring

Using this method entails manual inspections of each machine and documentation of any issues, failures, and relevant details. This is a very time-consuming process that is prone to human-error and many inaccuracies. 

Sensor-Based Condition Monitoring

Using sensors attached to each machine, it is possible to collect an assortment of performance data that can then be used to track performance and maintenance issues. The challenge with some sensors is that they can easily be knocked out of place or provide inaccurate readings due to environmental conditions. 

IoT-Based Condition Monitoring

By taking advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), condition monitoring can be taken to the next level. Using a solution like Matics, for example, allows for continuous remote monitoring of each machine with real-time information being fed into cloud-based software that can analyze the data and provide customized reports on a huge array of parameters.  

Types of Conditions to Monitor 

Each factory management team has to decide for itself which are the conditions that are most important to monitor depending on their unique circumstances and goals. Some of the key conditions that are most beneficial to monitor in order to best predict potential failures include:

  • Vibrations – a machine’s vibration patterns can provide insight into how durable the parts are with changing vibration often being the first sign of impending failure.
  • Ball bearing wear – ball bearings face a lot of wear and tear especially when machines are starting up and shutting down. Monitoring this wear and being aware of when to replace the ball bearings can prevent unplanned downtime and expensive maintenance.
  • Load – increasing load indicates the dulling of a machine’s blade requiring it to work harder in order to ensure accuracy.
  • Acceleration – when the acceleration rate of a machine’s axis starts to slow down or exhibit other abnormalities it can be a sign of an impending breakdown. 
  • Temperature – an overheating machine is not operating efficiently and could even cause a fire or other dangers. Similarly, a machine that is not heating up the way it’s meant to can also indicate a problem.
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