Condition-Based Maintenance Program

What Is A Condition-Based Maintenance Program [CBM]?

Will you receive the critical phone call in the middle of the night notifying you that a major asset at your company failed?  You may ask yourself how long will the downtime be or, what will it cost to fix?  When calls like this wake you up, forget about going back to sleep.  Either you are tossing and turning while thinking about the problem or, you are getting dressed and heading into work.  Is there a solution?  Could I have foreseen this failure before it occurred?  The answer is MAYBE!

Historically, companies have performed maintenance inspections of critical assets based on a calendar-type program.  In other words, they would set up an inspection calendar to evaluate the health of their assets every month, every quarter or even annually, depending on the complexity of the asset inspection process.  But, do these calendar-based inspection programs detect an asset that will fail in 1 month or 3 months or 9 months?  As assets become more technologically advanced, any disruption or failure of these assets can cause downtime to your business, possibly affecting your customers, resulting in huge recovery costs and lost customer revenue.

Is it possible to predict asset failures before they happen?  Can I increase the reliability of my operations?  Many assets will display errors, or some type of indicator of deterioration, long before they fail.  A condition-based maintenance program is defined as maintenance when the need arises.  Performing frequent inspections of mission critical assets and performing trend analysis of inspection data over time may help pinpoint an asset that is beginning to show signs of deterioration.  Once an asset has been identified as a potential failure risk, preventive maintenance can be scheduled and performed before a failure occurs.

Learn how a utility company prevented a major failure

Pros and Cons

Adopting a condition-based maintenance program is an important tool for optimal plant operations.  Improved reliability of overall operations, decreased downtime due to asset failure and cost management of maintenance are all advantages of adopting a condition-based maintenance program.

However, there are some challenges such as increased costs of implementation or a complete overhaul of the maintenance procedures requiring organizational change from top management down to the hourly employee.  A critical assessment of the advantages and disadvantages should be performed.

Will a condition-based maintenance program work for my company?

Questions to consider before deciding if a condition-based maintenance program would work for you:

  1. What is my company’s dependence on the asset?
  2. How many mission critical assets does the company have?
  3. What are the consequences of an unplanned asset failure?
  4. How long will it take to recover from a failure?
  5. What will it cost to fix and recover from a failure?
  6. Have I caused a disruption to my end-user customers? If yes, have I lost revenue?


A thorough analysis of the company’s critical assets needs to be performed.  Costs of implementing a condition-based maintenance program versus costs from unplanned downtime and failures is a critical part of the analysis.  Change is often difficult but necessary, especially when it hits a company’s bottom line.

Middle East State Owned Utility Company, Fault Prevented

The Middle East based State Owned Utility company use the IRISS Sonus PD instrument to test for Partial Discharge in their medium voltage Switchgear and accessories. In March 2014, high levels of discharge were detected on a Ring Main Unit using the Sonus PD and in response to this an offline investigation was carried out. Significant PD damage was found on the fuse holder, indicating that the asset was close to failure.

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