Condition monitoring needs hands-on diagnostic expertise

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Expertise is needed to correctly interpret CM data that is collected
Expertise is needed to correctly interpret CM data that is collected

Related tags: Technology

An overreliance on collecting condition monitoring (CM) data could be hampering maintenance teams in their quest to improve plant operational efficiency, industrial service provider Eriks UK has warned.

An overreliance on collecting condition monitoring (CM) data could be hampering maintenance teams in their quest to improve plant operational efficiency, industrial service provider Eriks UK has warned.

Recent technological innovations have enabled maintenance engineers and facilities managers to measure and monitor the performance of their plant more than ever before, according to David Manning-Ohren, a CM expert at Eriks UK.

However, UK industry risks making vital mistakes if first-hand diagnostic work is phased out in favour of extensive data analysis, he warned.

“Our ability to capture vital data has really advanced the potential of condition monitoring in recent years, yet we now find ourselves in a position where we’re almost overloaded with it,”​ said Manning-Ohren.

‘Guilty of data-grabbing’

“Given the increase in available information, some in the industry may be guilty of data-grabbing, and trying to let computers undertake the diagnostics rather than a trained engineer.”

Manning-Ohren added: “If you don’t have the diagnostic capabilities of an engineer equipped with extensive thermodynamic, vibration analysis or flow technology knowledge, then the data you’ve gathered will be redundant.”

He used the example of an inverter that could add noise to a motor that could easily be misconstrued as a bearing defect.

Until you understand vibration signatures and evaluate these with respect to electrical noise versus mechanical noise, you wouldn’t necessarily know the difference between the two, he warned.

“Ultimately, the devil’s in the detail, not the data when it comes to condition monitoring,”​ he said.

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