Condition-Based Maintenance

What is Condition-Based Maintenance?

CBM is a proactive maintenance strategy that involves monitoring the actual condition of an asset to determine when maintenance is needed. 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.

Condition-based monitoring can range from simple visual inspections, sensors, and meter readings to scheduled and automated tests using condition-based monitoring tools and techniques. Condition data can be gathered at intervals or continuously. 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.

Note: CBM comes with a slight risk as the indicators of failure may not be detected early enough. However, for less valuable assets, it can decrease maintenance cost.

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.

Benefits of Condition-Based Maintenance

Maintenance is performed only when needed.

Less expensive and time-consuming than preventive maintenance.

Suitable for asset that need to run continuously, even during maintenance

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

What is the Difference Between Preventive Maintenance and CBM?

Predictive maintenance and CBM both prioritize operational reliability by using data to prevent unplanned downtime. However, while they share similarities in their proactive approach, they differ in their methodologies and application.

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.
  • 1.Maintenance work is performed only as needed.
  • 2. Improved prioritization of maintenance time.
  • 3. Fewer unplanned downtime events.
  • 1. Maintenance is predicted in advance.
  • 2. Improved automation of maintenance tasks.
  • 3. Reduces maximum unscheduled downtime.
Use case Highly critical production assets with high automotive repair and maintenance costs. Assets that need to be run continuously even during maintenance repair and operations.

What is the Difference Between Predictive Maintenance and CBM?

CBM 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.
  • 1. Maintenance work is performed only as needed.
  • 2.  Improved prioritization of maintenance time.
  • 3. Fewer unplanned downtime events.
  • 1.Maintenance is predicted in advance.
  • 2. Improved automotive repair and maintenance tasks.
  • 3.Reduces maximum unscheduled downtime.
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

MicroMain's CMMS software work orders feature

Streamline the reporting process

CBM software offers a swift and user-friendly solution for aggregating condition monitoring data, facilitating the creation of work orders, and tracking the effectiveness of your CBM strategy. Reports generated by the software provide insights into the frequency of asset maintenance, associated costs, and savings achieved through preventive maintenance practices. By consolidating all data in a centralized platform, you can efficiently manage maintenance repair and operations, including work orders, purchase orders, inventory, and maintenance records, crucial elements for a successful preventive maintenance program

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).

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.

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).

A CMMS gives you insight into the following information:

1. List of active corrective tasks
2. List of tasks that still need to be scheduled
3.  Which technicians are assigned to cover which tasks
4. Who is available to cover corrective tasks that still need to be scheduled

Create communication channels

Remember that CBM 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.


While CBM can be suitable for specific assets and scenarios, it may not always be the optimal approach. Relying solely on CBM can result in expensive downtime, premature asset failure, hazardous working environments, and other issues. A comprehensive maintenance strategy should incorporate preventive and predictive maintenance methods, both of which can be effectively implemented through a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). This approach ensures thorough car repair and maintenance practices, minimizing the risk of unexpected breakdowns and extending the lifespan of assets.

Related Resources

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 systems 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 CBM 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 software provides 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.
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 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.

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.

CBM 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.

When deciding whether or not to use CBM on an asset, consider the following:

1. How critical are potential failures?
2. What does it cost to resolve failures?
3.Are those failures likely to recur?