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Condition-Based Monitoring: The Phrase That’s Here to Stay


Condition-based monitoring.

Maybe you’re a fleet manager, and you’ve heard this term before. But you’re not quite sure what it refers to.

Or perhaps you’re a parts supplier for heavy-duty fleets. You know that condition-based monitoring is the wave of the future, but you’re finding it difficult to explain the benefits to your clients.

The good news is…

While the term “condition-based monitoring” sounds highly technical, what it means and how it improves fleet management are actually quite simple to understand.

In this article, we’re sharing what condition-based monitoring is, where it belongs in maintenance philosophies, how it benefits maintenance practices, and more!

Where Does Condition-Based Monitoring Fall in the Spectrum of Maintenance Strategies?

Condition-based monitoring actually belongs to a specific category of maintenance practices. In other words, not all fleet management strategies use condition-based monitoring.

Before we dive into what this means, let’s start with a quick definition of what condition-based monitoring is. Here’s how Inspectioneering explains things…

“Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) is a type of predictive maintenance that involves using sensors to measure the status of an asset over time while it is in operation. The data collected can be used to establish trends, predict failure, and calculate the remaining life of an asset.”

For this article, we had Daniel Foreman—one of Senzit’s experts—weigh in. When it comes to understanding condition-based maintenance, Daniel explains there are four types of maintenance methodologies. These are…

  • Reactive maintenance: As its name suggests, reactive maintenance is simply responding to equipment emergencies as they come up.

Reactive maintenance can be helpful for pieces of equipment that are NOT costly, failure-prone, and critical for operation.

For instance, if you’re a fleet manager, you might use reactive maintenance to fix a missing screw on the exterior of a dozer. That’s because this piece of hardware isn’t likely to cause engine failure…and it’s not something you expect to lose every five years.

  • Preventative maintenance: More than likely, you’re already familiar with preventative maintenance. That’s because this philosophy is the most widely used maintenance strategy in fleet management.

Unlike reactive maintenance, preventative maintenance uses a “if it ain’t broke, still fix it” philosophy. This is because fleet managers lack key data on the actual state of equipment. In turn, this forces organizations to service equipment to avoid potential failures…even if the equipment has a significant chunk of remaining life.

  • Predictive maintenance: This maintenance strategy fills the information void organizations experience with preventative maintenance. Instead of relying on an outdated schedule to determine maintenance activities, predictive maintenance rests on real-time equipment data.

And this is where condition-based monitoring comes in.

By using a predictive maintenance tool, you can deploy condition-based monitoring for a fleet—which provides visibility into the actual state of your equipment. In turn, this data helps with predicting likely equipment failures and informs your maintenance schedule.

  • Proactive maintenance:  Predictive maintenance acts like an alert, notifying you of potential problems. However, proactive maintenance takes predictive a step further: A proactive strategy will actually reveal the underlying problem behind your equipment issues.

What Are the Benefits of Condition-Based Monitoring?

At this point, we’ve covered where condition-based monitoring falls on the spectrum of maintenance strategies.

But if you already use preventative maintenance, you might wonder what’s the value of condition-based monitoring.

Here’s why condition-based monitoring is worth your attention.

Preventative maintenance helps you avoid equipment failures. But it also wastes resources.

Predictive maintenance helps you avoid equipment failures—while improving efficiency and maximizing your uptime.

For instance, when it comes to air filters, it’s common to replace air filters or, even worse, clean them, simply because they look dirty. However, this preventative maintenance philosophy can actually lead you to…

  • Replace filters before you need to.
  • Waste technician hours on unnecessary service tasks.
  • Increase downtime…which decreases your profitability.

As Daniel explains, “A dirty filter is more efficient than a clean filter.”

In contrast, using condition-based monitoring allows you to take action based on your air filter dustload.

Are In-Person Equipment Checks the Same as Condition-Based Monitoring?

As we wrap up our discussion of condition-based monitoring, some of you may be thinking…

I have a technician who routinely checks our heavy-duty fleet. Isn’t this condition-based monitoring?

That’s a great question.

When technicians service equipment, they’re making observations on the condition of your fleet. But it’s important to realize there’s a big gap between in-person monitoring versus software-based monitoring. Here are three important differences:

  • Qualitative data vs quantitative analysis. For instance, a mechanic might notice an air filter looks clogged…but he won’t know that your backhoe’s dustload is at 80% and can operate another 58 hours.
  • Hidden Not all equipment problems can be easily observed by a technician. It’s possible for big problems to remain hidden.
  • Knowledge or communication gaps. Even if a problem is apparent, you’re still dependent on having the in-house knowledge to pinpoint an issue…and reliable channels to properly communicate the issue to management.

In contrast, software-powered condition-based monitoring provides data that isn’t limited to a technician’s situational awareness, knowledge, or work ethic.

And even if you do have highly trained technicians…it’s simply inefficient (and virtually impossible) to allocate technician hours toward constantly checking equipment for maintenance issues.

And that’s the beauty of leveraging software for condition-based monitoring. Software isn’t inhibited by a busy schedule or limited hours—it’s practically self-sufficient, giving you the continuous monitoring your machines need.

Condition-Based Monitoring in Your Organization

At Senzit, we’re predicting that condition-based monitoring will (one day) replace preventative maintenance.

But we also recognize that this transition won’t be accomplished overnight.

For your company, it can start with something as simple as predictive maintenance for air filters.

Want to see condition-based monitoring in action?

Watch this video, and see how one Senzit client is leveraging condition-based monitoring to improve maintenance practices.