Ultrasound and the CBM Journey

Ultrasound CBM
Condition Monitoring with Ultrasound

Look beyond the acronyms and discover the true destination of your CBM journey.

Too philosophical for you? Then ask yourself, “what is the goal of any journey but to arrive at your destination?” Not any destination, YOUR destination. Yes… that means you need to know where you want to go before you leave the start line. Once your destination is locked in, defining the steps along the way becomes much easier.

Still not sure? I can help.

Start by asking yourself why? Why CBM… Why now? Is it to save money? Increase reliability? Increase productivity? Reduce stress? Improve product quality? Elevate morale and create a culture of excellence?

How about all of the above? Certainly they are all important. Which ones rank highest in priority? You could argue they are all intertwined. We want to improve reliability, productivity, morale and quality in order to reduce stress and make more money. And there’s the bottom line. “Make more money.” That’s what sells our ideas to those that foot the bill for their implementation. Always remember, the boss doesn’t care so much about what it is; he wants to know “how much money will it save.”

It is easy to be too engaged in the process such that we completely lose sight of the “make more money” goal.

Condition-Based Maintenance changes the way maintenance tasks are driven. No longer do work orders get pushed out just because a predetermined amount of time lapsed since the last task. (We see this happen in motor bearing re-lubrication all the time). By the very definition of CBM, call to action is dictated as a response to changes in condition-based indicators. For this to happen you need a reference to measure condition against. Technology that compares similar machines to each other and identifies anomalies. This is the point in your CBM journey where Condition Monitoring (CM) meets CBM.

Condition monitoring requires tools to gather the data you need to make tough decisions. Implementing CM into your CBM strategy requires careful and thoughtful planning. Like your CBM journey, that first perilous step must not be reckless. Here is a quick list of things NOT to do first:

  1. Buy stuff just because there is budget allocated (do your homework)
  2. Take it all out of the box
  3. Don’t worry about training – the salesman said it was “user friendly” and would give you results “right out of the box.”
  4. Install the software and start creating databases without thought or consideration to the outcomes you are after.
  5. Take a bunch of readings
  6. Stare at the screen and wonder what it all means

This is a shotgun approach and I see it all too often. More often it spells a death sentence for your CBM program. It lacks focus, direction, planning, and education. Success requires a plan It requires focus and clarity. And most important, managerial support – and support is more than just a fat checkbook.

A better starting place is to draw a list of the small day-to-day problems that continually erode productivity and profitability. There are things that bite hard every hour of every day and cost you more money in the long run. The problem is that most of those problems are now almost invisible to the business. They are just considered the cost of living.

Some examples:

Diablo Aug 2014 009

This list represents four huge daily drains on company resources. Targeting each of these will yield almost immediate justification for an investment in CM tools like ultrasound.

Are they difficult to do? No, not really.

Do they need a long history of trend data and complicated technology? No again.

Do they require a huge investment in labor and technology? Once again, “No”.

I can hear some of you saying, “But this is not what CBM is about!” Really? Isn’t it? Fixing these four examples will save a fortune. You stand the chance to reduce maintenance cost, improve plant efficiency and reliability, reduce energy waste, and unite stakeholders thereby improving morale. That sounds a bit like the road map we set out earlier, doesn’t it? So yes, this is exactly what CBM should be about.


Expand the list above to include monitoring all your rotating machinery and inspecting your electrical systems and add in the one technology that can perform all six; ultrasound. Now the point of this post is not to jump on the ultrasound bandwagon. Because it is not enough to simply say, “your CBM program needs ultrasound” (by the way, it really does). You need to understand WHY you need ultrasound. More importantly, how it will become the supporting pillar of your CBM program.

By Allan Rienstra,
SDT Ultrasound Solutions

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