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Condition-Based Maintenance

Preventing unscheduled downtime while minimizing maintenance costs.

What is condition-based maintenance?

Condition-based maintenance (CBM) is a proactive maintenance strategy that involves monitoring the actual condition of an asset to determine what maintenance needs to be done. Unlike calendar- or meter-based maintenance, which occurs on a fixed schedule, CBM is only performed when certain indicators show signs of decreasing performance. These indicators include equipment depreciation, usage, and mishaps. 

Equipment monitoring as a maintenance strategy

Equipment assessments, known as condition-based monitoring, can range from simple visual inspections, sensors, meter readings, to scheduled and automated tests using condition-based monitoring tools and techniques. 

Condition data can be gathered at intervals or continuously (this is done automatically when a machine has sensors). As more and more equipment is equipped with IoT capabilities, devices are more likely to feature sensors that collect performance data. Eventually, patterns will emerge from the data and show when a machine may be starting to fail. From here, you can escalate your condition-based maintenance strategy into a predictive or preventive maintenance strategy. 

Compared with preventive maintenance, CBM increases the time between maintenance repairs and ensures maintenance is done only on an as-needed basis rather than a preventative schedule.

Note: Condition-based maintenance comes with a slight risk as the indicators of failure may not be detected early enough. However, for less valuable assets, CBM decreases maintenance spend.

Examples of condition-based maintenance

  • Monitoring the temperature of computers and machinery to prevent overheating or using smart HVAC units to control building temperature and save energy. 
  • Monitoring pressure in a water system to predict when a pipe could fail. 
  • Monitoring oil particles in construction or fleet vehicles.
Monitoring with condition based maintenance
Condition-based monitoring techniques

Equipment assessments can be quite labor-intensive and may lack precision. The use of condition-based monitoring tools like sensor equipment helps automate part of the process. 

  • Oil analysis – Collecting and testing machine oils, equipment lubricants, and other fluid samples to ascertain the condition of the fluids and the machines. As machines wear, contaminants are deposited in operating fluids. Technicians will typically test oil samples for the presence of contaminants like sediment, water, or microbes. You can also test properties like the viscosity, or perform an ICP or atomic emissions spectroscopy to identify the presence of contaminants.  Avoiding contamination using condition-based monitoring system decreases bearing failure by 75%
  • Pressure analysis – Measuring pressure within fluid, gas, or air to make sure it’s moving through a pipeline or hydraulic hose properly. If the pressure drops in a piece of equipment, it can indicate an internal problem requiring maintenance. A spike in pressure can be a sign of breakage or an imminent explosion. Conducting pressure analysis for condition-based maintenance allows maintenance teams to see these issues in real-time. 
  • Motor circuit analysis Assessing the condition of electric motors through a sequence of computerized tests on an electric motor to ascertain the motor’s overall condition and sources of potential failure. Some tests are go/no-go tests, while others must be tracked over time to identify failure development. Tests are generally grouped into voltage-based or current-based tests. MCA can be used to cut energy costs and improve equipment efficiency by 10-15%. 
  • Electrical analysis – Finding deviations in electrical parameters to identify faults. Characteristics such as resistance, induction, capacitance, pulse response, and others are used to detect potential maintenance issues. 
  • Ultrasonic analysis – Using high-frequency sound waves to detect part defects such as leaks, parts seating, and cavitations (the formation of small, vapor-filled cavities in places where the pressure is relatively low). These small deviations can be missed with vibration analysis, so UM can be used along with it for maximum cost-effectiveness. Condition-based maintenance systems provide an early warning for machine parts deterioration that might otherwise be masked by ambient plant noises and temperatures. 
  • Infrared thermography – Studying heat patterns in machines and objects. Generally, equipment and parts will heat as parts begin to fail, so heat patterns are a good proxy for impending equipment failure. Images capture thermal radiation patterns emitted from equipment. Thermal anomalies detected by condition-based maintenance software can indicate misalignment, imbalances, improper lubrication, worn components, and mechanical stresses. 
  • Vibration analysis Measuring vibration frequencies and levels of machinery. Rotating equipment such as compressors and rotors exhibit a certain degree of vibration. Wear on machine parts, bearings, rotors, and shafts cause these parts to vibrate with specific patterns that can be recorded and analyzed for condition-based maintenance. Worn or out-of-balance parts have unique vibration signatures that can be tracked and used to predict part failure. Techniques include shock pulse analysis, fast Fourier transforms, broadband vibration analysis, ultrasonic analysis, time waveform analysis, power spectral density (PSD), and spectrogram/spectrum analysis. With the right techniques, condition-based monitoring can detect misalignments, imbalances, and wear about 3 months before they cause a breakdown. 

Benefits of condition-based maintenance


Maintenance is performed only when needed.


Less expensive and time-consuming than preventive maintenance.


Suitable for assets that need to run continuously—even during maintenance.


The use of sensor equipment and other condition monitoring tools reduces labor.

How to integrate condition-based maintenance into your maintenance plan

  • 1. Determine baseline standards for CBM - What metrics indicate that an asset needs maintenance?
  • 2. Install sensors and other condition-based monitoring tools to track asset health
  • 3. Collect and monitor asset data
  • 4. Identify conditional data anomalies
  • 5. Create a corrective action work order

 6. Perform condition-based maintenance

You need a scheduled maintenance strategy and a condition-based maintenance system to make CBM effective, where technicians regularly inspect equipment to spot anomalies. The point is to ensure that the indicators trigger maintenance sufficiently in advance of equipment failure so corrective action can be taken before the asset fails or performance falls.

Create a system for reporting problems

Tip: The goal of CBM in maintenance is to spot upcoming equipment failures so maintenance can be proactively scheduled when needed—and not before. 

Without the right systems, processes, and procedures in place, CBM can cost you more time and money than it’s worth. 

When deciding whether or not to use condition-based maintenance on an asset, consider the following: 

  • How critical are potential failures?
  • What does it cost to resolve failures?
  • Are those failures likely to recur?

Condition-based maintenance is typically used in large, asset-intensive organizations including automotive suppliers, oil and gas, facilities with complex building automation systems, utilities, and organizations that rely on fleet vehicles. 

Technicians using CBM in maintenance

Here's where a CMMS becomes vital.


What is the difference between preventive maintenance and CBM?

Predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance share a few similarities. Both are forms of proactive maintenance in that they rely on data to determine whether or not upkeep is necessary and prevent unplanned downtime, but that’s where the similarities end. 

  Condition-based maintenance Preventive maintenance
Definition A proactive maintenance strategy where assets are maintained on an as-needed basis (based on signs of impending equipment failure). A proactive maintenance strategy where assets are maintained based on a predetermined schedule.
Triggers Time intervals or meter readings.

Warning signs of impending equipment failure.

  • Maintenance work is performed only as needed.
  • Improved prioritization of maintenance time.
  • Fewer unplanned downtime events.
  • Maintenance is predicted in advance.
  • Improved automation of maintenance tasks.
  • Reduces maximum unscheduled downtime.
Cost Medium/high (startup cost) Medium/high
Use case Highly critical production assets with high repair and replacement costs.  Assets that need to be run continuously—even during maintenance.


What is the difference between predictive maintenance and CBM?

Condition-based maintenance and predictive maintenance are both forms of proactive maintenance that occur before equipment breaks down. Predictive maintenance relies on precise formulas—often derived from historical data on equipment failure—in addition to sensor measurements to predict when an asset will fail.

  Condition-based maintenance Predictive maintenance
Definition A proactive maintenance strategy where assets are maintained on an as-needed basis (based on signs of impending equipment failure). A proactive maintenance strategy where work is scheduled in the future based on historical data insights on equipment failure.
Triggers Time intervals or meter readings.

Predicted date of failure and/or other warning signs.

  • Maintenance work is performed only as needed.
  • Improved prioritization of maintenance time.
  • Fewer unplanned downtime events.
  • Maintenance is predicted in advance
  • Improved automation of maintenance tasks.
  • Reduces maximum unscheduled downtime.


Cost Medium/high (startup cost) High
Use case Highly critical production assets with high repair and replacement costs. 

Assets with an unpredictable failure rate that require high-precision maintenance.



Condition-based maintenance software

Condition-based maintenance1. Streamline the reporting process

Condition-based maintenance software provides a fast and easy way to aggregate condition monitoring data so you can create work orders and track the success of your CBM strategy. 

Reports allow you to see how frequently an asset is maintained, how much it costs, and how much money is saved by using preventive maintenance. With all your data stored in one place, you can effectively manage work orders, purchase orders, inventory, and maintenance records —  all of which are required for a successful preventive maintenance program.

Condition-based maintenance2. Optimize the workflow

Create a set of standard maintenance procedures technicians can follow when dealing with complex assets. Even if these assets aren’t currently under a preventive maintenance plan, you can still minimize downtime and maintenance costs by preparing for the asset’s eventual degradation. 

CMMS features help facilitate this process by providing quick access to maintenance logs for every asset, a spare parts management system that helps control inventory so you never run out of replacement parts and centralized information about each asset (OEM recommendations, fault patterns and maintenance procedures).

Condition-based maintenance3. Manage scheduling

A CMMS automatically provides notifications to all concerned parties when a condition-based maintenance task is due, as indicated by sensors, meter readings, or historical data. Using Micromain's mobile technician app, maintenance workers can view information about the work order and provide status updates while working onsite or remotely. 

A CMMS gives you insight into the following information:

  • List of active corrective tasks
  • List of tasks that still need to be scheduled
  • Which technicians are assigned to cover which tasks
  • Who is available to cover corrective tasks that still need to be scheduled 
condition-based maintenance4. Create communication channels

Remember that condition-based maintenance doesn’t only concern the maintenance team. Employees who work with assets that are waiting to be repaired need to be updated on the progress of maintenance work.

For example, say the maintenance manager didn’t notify the line manager that a technician is coming. The technician would have to wait around until production stops or the space is clean and ready for him to start.

A mobile CMMS comes with a built-in chat function that makes it easy for managers to communicate with each other onsite, as well as push notifications that notify managers of important changes.


Although condition-based maintenance can be the proper maintenance strategy for certain types of assets and situations, it is not the best approach for all assets and situations. It can often lead to costly downtime, shortened life of assets, unsafe working conditions, and more.

An effective maintenance strategy should also include preventive and even predictive maintenance, and there is no better way of implementing preventive and predictive maintenance than with a CMMS.

Condition-based maintenance

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