How will tech advances impact conditioning monitoring in 2023?
Maintenance departments have historically used condition monitoring to make maintenance decisions based on machine health and failure signals.
March 29, 2023 | By Bryan Christiansen
Condition monitoring (CM) has evolved considerably from using human senses for monitoring sound or vibration. The advance of digital technology in the 20th century enabled handheld monitoring devices, closely followed by hard-wired sensors using Ethernet networks.
Today, converging technology has further control and monitoring techniques. Wireless communication, product miniaturization, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence have all revolutionized CM capabilities.
What does this technology mean for CM in 2023 and beyond?
CM market forecast
The CM market has always enjoyed steady growth, although in low single figures, with a historical compound annual growth rate of around 3.8 per cent. In 2022, the market size was approximately US$2.6 billion.
However, new technology and increasing competitive pressures are behind a growing manufacturing momentum for creating smart factories through digitalization. This pressure promises to double the growth in CM over the next decade, with forecasts suggesting the market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent between 2023 and 2032. The 2032 market size calculated from these figures will be US$5.5 billion.
What factors are transforming the market?
This aggressive growth makes sense when we understand the wider context of the technology that enables and encourages business adoption.
The 1990s heralded wired sensors to replace the handheld devices used to that point. These permanent fixtures reduced handheld detector errors and poor repeatability, but at a cost. Large Ethernet and power networks needed to be installed, with strategically located data collectors.
The emergence of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication lowered network costs significantly, covering a large expanse of the factory floor with a few small wireless repeaters. System redundancy also improved, with some networks capable of choosing the strongest communication route.
Secure cloud computing
Moving data storage and application management to the cloud revolutionized maintenance automation. Removing on-premises server centres and scaling back IT departments was a benefit. However, the true power of cloud computing lies in accessing unparalleled computing capability for complex computations — relieving end-users from needing high-end devices while offering rapid and almost limitless scalability.
Integrating equipment with IIoT
Third-party, purpose-built industrial Internet of things (IIoT) devices have accelerated the shift to remote control and monitoring capabilities. Today, system integrators only need to mechanically install a new sensor, connect power, and link the device to the wireless network using onboard connectivity. This true plug-and-play capability has removed the cost and turnaround time for installing smart systems. Reliance on OEMs has been reduced, allowing legacy equipment to be smart-enabled and removing the difficult issue of disconnected or islanded assets.
Improvements in the technology used to collect and analyze data have moved businesses beyond simply querying data to describe past events. Powered by cloud computing and advanced mathematical modeling tools, businesses can now gather, organize, and analyze large volumes of data to make predictions about an unknown issue. The results unlock data-driven decision making to reduce cost and risk while improving profits.
What to expect in 2023
Packaging together multiple technology solutions and adding advanced manufacturing capabilities has transformed machine control and monitoring capabilities. The following condition monitoring trends will continue to accelerate in 2023.
Increased wireless CM
Micro-machining capabilities create micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) of a few millimeters in size consisting of microscopic moving parts. This miniaturization creates sensors of reduced size, weight, and power, at low cost. Operated by battery, they have in-built processors, sensors, and wireless capability with a low power requirement, a simple installation, and reduced deployment costs.
While data quality may not match that of piezo-electric sensors, MEMS-based sensors offer a cost-effective option for applying smart monitoring to legacy equipment. The ready availability of small, rugged, purpose-built third-party sensors will accelerate the implementation of CM in manufacturing and maintenance industries.
PdM and prescriptive maintenance
Using machine learning and AI to analyze operating equipment was once the domain of oil companies and aerospace organizations, requiring big budgets to monitor the condition of critical applications. Cloud-hosted machine learning and AI algorithms, coupled with commercial off-the-shelf solutions, have enabled companies of all sizes to reap the benefits.
Cloud-based predictive analytics interrogates equipment service history and monitors equipment condition feeds in near real-time to identify nascent defects. The software predicts when the operating performance will degrade to a point requiring intervention but before failures and stoppages occur.
Soon, you can expect to move beyond predictive maintenance to prescriptive maintenance, where the analytics engine doesn’t just suggest when a failure will occur — it runs a range of scenarios and suggests the appropriate response through modifying operations or effecting a repair. Even now, we see automated actions taken without operator or technician intervention.
Increased data integration needs
Plant-wide CM and increased digital transformation efforts create large data volumes and information silos. Expect to see organizations seeking greater integration between data from monitoring sensors, SCADA systems, HMI devices, and scheduling software.
A current trend is the use of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to provide this integration service. Modern CMMS has evolved to challenge the role of enterprise resource planning systems and enterprise asset management systems.
They contain the necessary integration and analytic capabilities to discern data patterns that inform maintenance and manufacturing decision making. Through 2023, organizations will seek to extend the capability of their CMMS as a rapid, low-risk, low-cost way to integrate their burgeoning data to allow greater insight.
Evolving competitiveness in manufacturing is driving businesses to exploit the opportunities IIoT-enabled CM offers. As technology costs continue to reduce and turn-key third-party solutions proliferate, 2023 will herald considerable growth in the CM market — businesses seek greater production efficiency through reduced maintenance costs, increased equipment availability, and enhanced product quality.
Bryan Christiansen is the Founder and CEO at Limble CMMS (a mobile CMMS software company). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.