ASK THE EXPERTS: How can we continue to show financial benefit of continuing Condition Monitoring when it’s not finding new problems?

by | Apr 25, 2024 | ASK THE EXPERTS, Condition Monitoring, Predictive Maintenance

This question is from Paul in the Maritime industry:

When we first started our condition monitoring program, we had several findings on each of our ships and we were able to plan and schedule the corrective action with no impact on our underway schedules.  We achieved excellent cost savings by doing this.  In the last year, we had no significant findings and no failures.  How can we continue to show the financial benefit of continuing the program when it is not finding any new problems?


While it may not seem like it, this is a good problem to have.  While most condition based programs rely on avoided downtime while calling out machines that are already in a state of failure and the machine is lost.  As the program advances and matures, so should your KPI’s.  Early focus on avoided production or service loss is an easy way to build justifications for program expansion and growth.

Once the program starts to mature, the indicators of a successful program should also mature.  While still capitalizing on incidents of avoided downtime, focus should also be shifted to optimize PMs and extending machine life.  Correcting machinery faults before they require machine replacement is the next step.  The goal of every condition monitoring program should be to shift the way you’re currently doing maintenance, which will in turn show long term returns in continued operation and machine life.

This stage of your condition monitoring program may not be as flashy as that last minute replacement of a unit prior to failure during the weekend outage, but it is just as valuable if not more so.  Correcting the cause of the machinery faults before they can effect irreversible damage not only prevents the loss of operational time, but saves the replacement cost of the equipment and is usually a quicker and easier fix than a replacement, saving labor hours as well.

Letting your machines tell you what should be done and when can save countless PM hours that can now be used elsewhere.  Not flashy, but still valuable.


Not finding problems through condition monitoring while also not having failures is actually a good thing!  Savings from condition monitoring programs come not only through planning and scheduling corrective action to have minimal impact on operating schedules, but it also comes from the confidence that your equipment is in good working order before departing on a trip.

Condition monitoring in the shipping industry is encouraged by the insurance carriers and classification societies.  Significant costs can be avoided by skipping calendar based maintenance activities on components and systems, when approved condition monitoring program data shows no indication of internal problems.  Any time that “open and inspect” activities can be justifiably avoided improves the program’s return on investment and reduces the likelihood of creating problems where none previously existed!  Just think in terms of the cost saving associated with less time in drydock or along-side the pier in a repair yard and the benefit that can be achieved by replacing those costs with actual operating revenue.  All of the major classification societies and insurance carriers have provisions in their standards for deferring time and resource consuming maintenance activities when condition monitoring activities show that problems do not exist.

This same justification for maintenance avoidance can be applied in most industries.  As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  The difference between the maritime industry and most others is that the maritime industry already has provisions built into its standards that permit justifiable maintenance avoidance.


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