Maintenance Strategies for Pneumatic Actuators – Conditions-Based Maintenance

Jeremy King from Bimba Manufacturing continues his discussion on the most difficult challenges facing manufacturers and OEMs as they compete to reach their production targets and analyzes the different maintenance strategies for pneumatic actuators and the role sensors can play in each. In this final blog he will talk about condition-based maintenance.

Condition-Based Maintenance / Predictive Maintenance
Condition-based maintenance is the practice of monitoring the condition of components to determine when a component should be replaced prior to failure.

Predictive maintenance is an extension of condition-based maintenance: any changes in components’ conditions over time can be discovered and make possible a prediction about when the unit will break down.

Advantages:
• Reduces downtime
• Reduces inventory of repair parts
• Avoids failure during critical builds
• Maximizes life of actuator
• Schedules maintenance
• Improves product quality

Drawbacks:
• Startup costs
• Increases system complexity

When to use:
Condition-based monitoring should be employed when the cost of monitoring the component is lower than the cost of component failure. This strategy leads to significant reductions in the cost of labor and the amount of downtime because technicians can replace components before they fail but not before they need to.

Role of sensors:
Sensors are critical to the implementation of a condition-based monitoring strategy. Each actuator that is to be monitored will require installation of some instrumentation, either intermittently or permanently. The most effective approach is to permanently install a sensor solution on the equipment. This simplifies data gathering and analysis. While intermittent monitoring can be effective, it is labor intensive and may miss signs of imminent failure. For pneumatic actuators, pressure sensors are ideal for monitoring the wear of piston and rod seals. Over time, increased air leakage or changes in actuator speed can be indicators of approaching failure.

Conclusion
Choosing the right strategy for each application can be time consuming but with a little forethought there will be improvements in overall equipment efficacy (OEE). The increase in available sensors technologies has the potential to optimize any maintenance routine.

If you enjoyed this blog series and would like to see more like it please email Denise Rockhill at drockhill@nfpa.com and let her know.

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