Part 2 of this series on the components of a successful vibration program describes the skill sets and attitudes that are most appropriate for those who want to run successful vibration monitoring or condition monitoring (CM) programs.
Read Part 1: Right Goals
Figure 1: 10 components of a condition monitoring program
1. Right Goals
Having clearly defined and achievable goals that may evolve over time.
2. Right People||
Having the right people in the right roles with the right training.|
3. Right Leadership||
Inspiring continuous improvement.|
4. Right Tools
Having the right tools and technology to help reach the goal.
5. Right Understanding
Equipment audits, reliability and criticality audits, FMECA, maintenance strategies, etc.
6. Right Data Collection
Collecting the right data at the right time to detect anomalies, defects or impending failures.
7. Right Analysis
Turning data into defect or fault diagnoses.
8. Right Reporting
Turning data into actionable information and getting that information to those who need it at the right time and in the right format.
9. Right Follow-up and Review
Acting on reports, reviewing and verifying results, benchmarking, auditing and improving, etc.
10. Right Processes and Procedures
Tying together: people, technology, information, decision-making and review.
ISO18436-2, which covers training and certification of vibration analysts,
recognizes four levels of certification that roughly translate into different roles
in the program. Category I certified analysts are typically involved in data
collection and simple alarm checking on pre-defined routes. Category II certified
analysts are responsible for the day-to-day running of the program,
including data analysis, reporting and general database management. Category
III analysts are usually responsible for the initial program setup and
overall management of the program. This includes everything from choosing
which assets to test to defining test points, test setups, determining which
monitoring technologies to use, developing
baselines and alarms, etc.
Category IV people are a rare breed
and their focus is more on rotor dynamics
and monitoring large process
equipment. The different roles
involve different skills and different
pay scales, thereby making a division of labor a more cost-effective way to
manage a program.
Certification from an accredited organization is important. It ensures that
personnel have at least a minimum degree of understanding of the subject
matter. Certification is also important for compliance and liability reasons. But
does having certified personnel on staff ensure the program will be a success?
Is certification enough?
There is a difference between a condition monitoring program and a guy
with a tool. CM technologies are often used for troubleshooting known problems.
This is considered reactive maintenance and it is the worst possible use
of the technology. The whole point of having a CM program is to reduce emergency
or reactive work. The difference here implies that the people running
the program will need a program
management mind-set and skill set,
rather than a troubleshooting mindset.
The skills required to analyze data
or troubleshoot a mechanical problem
are often different than the skills
required to run a program.
Some people suffer from the “hero complex,” whereby a maintenance
professional sees himself or herself as the person who gets called in an emergency
situation to solve a difficult problem. He or she uses vast troubleshooting
skills to save the day and keep the plant running. But after the celebration
and parade in the person’s honor subsides, one should stop to reflect that
although it is much less exciting, the goal of having a CM program and other
reliability measures in place is to avoid having this emergency situation arise
in the first place!
To give an example, a great mechanic who loves fixing cars drives an
old VW bus. When you go on a road trip with him, you are glad he is such a
great mechanic and is able to keep the bus running. Compare this to someone
who drives a new car, in particular a model that is a much more reliable
vehicle. When you go on a road trip with this person, you don’t worry about
the car breaking down or requiring a mechanic. Likewise with the plant, the
broader goal is to evolve it into a much more reliable state rather than just
keep repairing things all the time.
Vibration analysis works best when data is trended over time. For
trends to be meaningful, the data must be collected the same way every
time. This means the same test conditions (e.g., speed and load), test points,
test configurations, sensor, sensor mounting, etc. Data collection must be a
well-defined, well-documented procedure that anyone can follow. Because
trending is essentially looking for change, you can get your software to do
most of the work if it is set up correctly. This involves creating good alarms or
baselines and utilizing all the alarm
and reporting features of the software.
The trick here is to essentially
tweak the software until it gives you
the diagnosis that you want. As you
get better at tweaking the software,
assuming it has advanced alarm capabilities,
and refining the alarms
and baselines, you begin to trust the
reports the software generates and
spend less and less time doing manual
analysis. This makes the program
more efficient and the diagnoses
more accurate. What this implies in
terms of personnel is that they need to have good computer skills and enjoy
spending a lot of time in the office tweaking the software.
A barrier to creating a program with well-defined processes and procedures
and getting the software set up to do most of the analysis work is the
“expert complex.” The expert is the one who wants to make the plant reliant
on him or her, or wants to hide or keep secret what he or she is really doing.
The main cause of this is usually fear: Fear that if other people can do the job,
this person might get fired, or fear that if anyone actually looked too closely
at what he or she is doing, it may be discovered this expert is not much of an
expert after all. Even if the expert does provide accurate results, the truth is
that many programs fail when the so-called expert leaves. This isn’t because
the person is so great that he or she cannot be replaced, rather it’s because
there is no documentation of what the person did. Therefore, no one knows
how to test the machines in the correct way to keep the baselines and trends
meaningful. No one knows which machines in the database match the machines
in the plant, or which alarms and baselines are set up correctly, that is,
if there even are baselines and alarms configured in the system.
The expert complex is also common in consultants. When looking for an
employee or a consultant, it should be clear that you are not hiring to become
dependent on the person. You are hiring the individual to help you set up a
program that can eventually be run in this person’s absence. You are hiring the
individual to be transparent, to teach and to share. An employee or consultant
who does this will never lack work. There are always more problems to solve.
In the case of a consultant, make it clear in the contract that you own the
data and the database. It should be noted that a large part of the program is
defining repeatable test conditions and creating alarms or baselines around
them, in other words, defining procedures and setting up a database. This is
what you are investing in, not just a monthly report.
What is condition monitoring and proactive maintenance really about?
It’s about changing how you make decisions and solve problems. It is about
getting out of a run to failure, reactive mind-set and ultimately, it is about
organizational and cultural change. Nobody likes change, which is one reason
so many programs fail. In terms of personnel, this means the program
is going to need a champion; a leader. Someone who believes that change
is possible and is willing to put up a fight, document both the financial and
technical benefits, and make the case over and over again that these efforts
are benefiting the company’s bottom line.
When employees keep getting pulled away from their work setting up
the condition monitoring program to react to machine failures and put out
fires, it takes a strong leader to rein
them in and keep them focused on
the goal. Right leadership is all about
keeping your eyes on the prize and
keeping your team focused on the
work that is the most beneficial, not
the work that is screaming for the
The best person for any job is
someone who loves the work. Vibration
analysis is not an easy technology
to master, nor is it something
people can master in the little bit of
free time they have between putting
out fires and completing their other work. Running a vibration program requires
a diverse set of skills (although they can be divided among the group),
a large commitment of time, resources and expertise to get a program up and
running, and consistency to keep it going over time.
But people and leadership are only part of the puzzle. To have a successful
program, one needs to have all 10 components in place: Right goals, right
people, right leadership, right tools, right understanding, right data collection,
right analysis, right reporting, right follow-up and review and right processes
Continue to part 3