Condition Based Maintenance – Monitoring Tools


I keep getting updates on new products used in the maintenance field through various online subscriptions.

Here is a link that shows the us of Ultrasound devices in the condition based maintenance strategy. I am not trying to sell the product, but am just trying to propagate the techniques involved. Please connect to the link given below and learn more.



Energy Audits in multiple Phases

Hi all,

Energy conservation and energy audits are two catch phrases that are flogged to death on many fora.

Is it possible to deny the need for us to adopt energy conservation measures? The answer is a big know.

So, how do we go about doing an audit and bringing in measures to achieve good results.

Today I went through the part 1 of a very well written article on the topic. The link is given below:

Break Energy Audits into Phases | Chemical Processing.

Please read and be enlightened.


Mitigate electrical harmonics: Improves System Reliability, Uptime and Energy Efficiency

Hi all,

I recently read an article on the effect of electrical harmonics on system reliability, uptime and overall effectiveness. The link to the article is given below. Please read for more details.

Motor Efficiency | Control harmonic distortion to reduce energy consumption and extend asset life — Mitigate electrical harmonics: It improves system reliability, uptime and energy efficiency | Plant Services.


Predictive Maintenance and Energy Savings

A predictive maintenance road map to energy savings

The connection between maintenance and energy savings is not well understood. In fact, many of us view energy savings as just an electrical issue rather than a holistic approach to all energy usage. We need to consider energy measurement as part of a predictive maintenance system; to save time, money and energy throughout the facility.

All facilities tend to lose energy (cost involved) through overheated electrical distribution systems, overloaded and misaligned rotating assets as well as lose expensive compressed air and steam through leaking pipes/fittings. We need to improve equipment reliability by fully leveraging predictive maintenance (PdM) technologies.

Step 1 – Assets Listing

It is crucial to gain a complete picture of all assets within a reliability program or at least the equipment targeted in the pilot project. Keep in mind that from an electrical standpoint, many organizations don’t breakdown the electrical systems to the component level (i.e. relays, breakers, and lighting panels).

If you are finding information gaps while compiling the assets lists, the best way to get the full is by walking through the facility with a simple facility layout drawing and notebook to capture asset name plate data.

Step 2 – Get the Energy Bill

This step requires review and analysis of energy invoices for two to three years to establish consumption patterns. The consumption pattern need to be broken up for all the specific major energy using equipment groups (HVAC, Compressors, Ovens, Blower groups etc) and groups geographical or logical location (Utility group / Data center / Paint shop / Pharmaceutical production modules / Major office floor / Lunch room etc

Step 3 – Prioritise Your Efforts

A simple prioritisation approach is to divide the gas, electric and oil bills into two usage categories; by building type or use and by equipment types which are common to a variety of process and applications, compressed air, pump and fan systems, etc.

The facility may have hundreds of fractional horsepower motors that cumulatively consume a lot of energy, but the labor, analysis and reporting costs of deploying PdM to each is more than the replacement costs. The PdM approach will be cost-effective on lesser number of critical equipment.

An asset criticality ranking process creates weighted scores based upon probability of failures, failure severities, value impact on associated personnel, systems, buildings and the overall organisation.

Ultimately, you end up with a comprehensive site equipment list and corresponding criticality score that can be easily sorted to identify the most critical equipment by asset classification, building, and cost center.

The list will be used to identify which equipment to focus on first with specific maintenance strategies. Equipment having a high-ranking will likely have more advanced PdM equipment strategies and analysis performed; whereas equipment having the lowest ranking may have a lower maintenance strategy such as “run-to-failure”.

Each organisation has a different profile. For example, industrials have a higher number of process related motor loads, pharmaceuticals more HVAC loads and commercial buildings more focus on the electrical, HVAC and roofing systems.

Step 4 – Calculate the Energy Savings

Electrical Savings – The key process requires capturing power consumption measurements taken when an anomaly is identified and after equipment is put back into service. The savings in energy will give us the annual cost savings for a given maintenance effort.

Steam Savings

Steam savings calculation will involve the collection of large data covering boiler efficiency, loading, losses, number of boilers, fuel cost per 1,000 BTU, steam pressures, water treatment chemical costs, labour burden, etc.  Further costing for PdM efforts to critical boiler components could be made to achieve cost-effective maintenance with equitable energy savings.

Electrical distribution Systems

Electricity and electrical distribution systems are the backbone of any infrastructure. The issue at hand is that much of the electrical generation and distribution systems age without too much maintenance effort at sub assembly or component levels. Many sub systems cross the designed life and become susceptible to failure and low reliability. Some of the problems faced are:

  • Unstable utility supply / line surges
  • Transient voltages
  • Unbalanced and overloaded transformer banks
  • Short circuits
  • Unidentified single-phase ground faults
  • Faulty power factor correction equipment
  • Upstream and downstream relay faults and tripping
  • Un-calibrated relays and meters

The above variables are often hidden but can manifest themselves as single phasing, shorted windings, overheated transformer banks and partially tripped over current protection. Such component level failures are caused due to lack of maintenance.

IR thermography

IR thermography captures thermal anomalies and variances in temperatures. It is ideal for capturing high resistance, overload, phase imbalance and loose electrical connections that cause overheating and wasted energy.

Ultrasound Scanning

Ultrasound scanning of steam, fire fighting water and compressed air systems will help in identifying leaky components such as isolation valves, traps etc, without physically opening the systems for maintenance.

Thus PdM initiatives will work towards holistic infrastructure energy savings.

Adapted from an article by Dale Smith, CMRP, in Plant Maintenance Aug 2010 Issue

Power Quality and Energy Efficiency

Hi all,

Low lagging power factor (PF) is one great problem. Many users find it difficult to cope with the system Power factor due to poor system design and the types of down stream loads. Ways and means to optimise the system PF are available and are not necessarily expensive. The long-term savings and benefits of using these systems far outweighs the initial expenditure.

Leading PF is a more recent problem, again caused due to down stream loads such as Blade Servers etc. This could cause catastrophic failure of standby Gensets due to over loading, if the loads are transferred to them suddenly due to mains failure.

Here is an article that deals with power quality, remedies and recommendations. Read and be educated.

Beware the bite
Paul Studebaker, CMRP, Editor in Chief,
What to do when power quality eats into energy efficiency.


Sub-Meters Minimize Energy Waste, Boost Bottom Line

Increasing utility rates and ever-increasing energy demands eat into the operations budget and the increased greenhouse-gas emissions spells disaster for the environment. Institutional and commercial organizations cannot assume that they can operate as they always had or that the environment will be able to sustain the ongoing facilities operations. Energy use will continue to increase, hence maintenance and engineering managers need to monitor and control energy use in facilities.

The key to this effort is to understand the energy consumption trend in any given facility. Power sub-metering plays a huge role in achieving this goal by helping managers better understand facilities’ overall energy use and take essential corrective actions.

As a front-line data-gathering tool for energy-using systems, sub-meters can improve a company’s overall bottom line dramatically by bringing tremendous visibility to the overall energy footprint. By introducing energy profiling at the source, such as a lighting panel or power panel, down to the individual piece of equipment, a manager can truly begin to understand a facility’s energy profile and design energy conservation

One area in which sub-metering technology excels is measurement and verification. Since we can install a sub-meter almost anywhere in the electrical-distribution or branch-circuiting system, managers can specify meters for use in energy intensive equipment / system clusters.  To understand a building / factory overall energy profile, these meters can help by monitoring individual pieces of equipment, such as chillers, pumps, air handlers, air compressors, large blowers, conveyors etc.

We can identify operational inefficiencies through analysis of the collected data. This step can reveal interesting trends, such as two or more large motor loads starting at the same time, which causes system spikes. By alternating or staggering these loads, we can eliminate spikes and also improve efficiency.

Sub-meters can also be used as a condition based maintenance tool. Monitoring the current drawn by a piece of equipment generates a profile. Once that piece of equipment starts to draw more than the recorded profile current, we can program an alert to let us know about potential problems. The technology allows us to take preventive measures before catastrophic failures occur. The resulting savings in downtime and maintenance costs can more than pay for installation of the sub-meters.


Adapted from an article by David Rosenberger in PE April 2010

Ten Tips to Cut Energy Costs

Recession or in life of plenty, energy produced from hydrocarbons is finite. We need to conserve energy use so that the availability of such resources could be stretched farther.

Renewable and alternative energy sources are still catching up.

There is big question mark on nuclear energy after the latest Japanese disaster.

Even in a comparatively poor country such as India, changing life styles and global warming have added on to the per capita energy consumption.

  • Gone are those days when people used to walk or cycle to work; or mostly use public transportation.
  • Homes without refrigerators are rare.
  • Most urban homes have at least one air conditioner.
  • Two wheelers and televisions are essential commodities these days.
  • We need electrically operated treadmills to exercise, rather than walking for free on the roads or a park.
  • The list will go on……….

It is more difficult to change adapted or adopted individual life styles. Increasing the awareness on the impending energy crisis through events such as “Earth Hour” etc would help individuals in shaping their energy consumption.

When it comes to commercial buildings (offices / factories / hospital complexes / hotels / amusement parks / public utility buildings etc) that account for a large chunk of energy consumption, it is no different except for some parameters. Here are some tips to save energy and with that the operations cost.

  • 1 Reduce Site External Illumination. Keeping in mind the safety and security needs, reduce the non essential lighting.
  • 2 Revamp Your Facility Operations. The measures would include:
  • Scheduling equipment off time when not needed
  • Periodic calibration and resetting of all automatic controls
  • Adding features to existing controls to improve system efficiency
  • Repair insulation, seals, dampers and valves on equipment or systems to reduce or eliminate energy wastage
  • 3 Make Energy conservation a community initiative. When you get the top management, occupants / users, security personnel, maintenance groups, IT teams involved in the initiative, the results are better.
  • 4 Turn off vending machine lights. Per machine save may be minimal, but the total long term benefits are large.
  • 5 Encourage use of stairs where possible. Keep it as a challenge, that people will take up. Highlight the benefits to individual health through using stairs regularly.
  • 6 Improve Kitchen Processes to reduce Energy Use. Energy consumption of commercial kitchens could be reduced by optimising the usage for the most effective and efficient output. Revisiting oven preheat time, cooking temperature settings, just in time supply of frozen foods to reduce refrigerated storage mass, week end reduction of logistics supply, optimizing the menu spread etc.
  • 7 Reducing solar heat gain and loss. By controlling the radiated heat entering the premise during summers and losing the stored heat within the room in winters through installation of double glazed windows, sunscreen films, textile drapes, vertical or horizontal blinds etc.
  • 8 Reduce Air Conditioning (Cooling) Costs During Cooler Months. Use the cooler fresh air to cool the building interiors. High dust or hazardous environments may hamper this initiative.
  • 9 Increase Space Temperature in Summer. By increasing the space temperature within the buildings, the occupants are not likely to make out the difference much since the temperature differential compared to external ambient air is high. This is applicable to non critical comfort AC spaces only.
  • 10 Reduce overall fresh water consumption. Reduced use of water would indirectly reduce the energy cost of water processing, pumping and grey water treatment costs.