Condition Based Monitoring – An Idea

Condition Based Monitoring – An Idea

Utilizing new tools for predictive maintenance

From some of the folks, I know in the lift maintenance world what I am about to share is probably not news, but to many, I suspect it might be. The logic of it, I think, will resonate with all. The challenge is to see the upside versus the investment of money for either outside firms or equipment and time for training. My take is that given the state of the labor market, and the demand to utilize lifts for summer activities anything that can be done to be predictive of maintenance requirements is a step in the right direction.
The essence of this concept is that data is collected over time relative to a component of a lift, drive, gearbox, or coupling as examples. The continuous monitoring of that data gives you the ability to see what is happening. Putting my salesman hat on, MountainOffice provides the ability to capture that data as a value record in the system with the system providing alarms when a data point goes beyond the limits you set. More importantly, what data points should you be collecting and what technology or services do you need to collect the needed data points.
This aspect of maintenance is called Condition – Based Maintenance or CBM. The following are tools of CBM:
  • Vibration Analysis – vibration sensors, permanent or handheld;
  • Infrared (IR) – IR cameras to detect high temperatures
  • of utilized motors;
  • Nondestructive Testing (NDT) – ultrasound used to detect cracks in welds, corrosion of pipes, or the thickness of metals;
  • Ultrasound – used to detect leaks of gases or a vacuum;
  • Oil Analysis – measure particles/sampling;
  • Electrical – motor current analysis;
  • Operational Performance – sensors throughout a system to measure performance
For sure some of these you are using today such as oil analysis and of course NDT, but probably using Magna flux versus ultrasound. Today we can utilize IOS and Android devices to capture thermal readings, vibration, and infrared readings for relatively low investment. (These are not as precise or accurate as specially made tools.) Ultrasound requires special equipment and software, but the entry price is not off the charts.
A case in point might be the over lubrication of electric motors. Here is an example of over lubricating, which could be detected by an ultrasound test of the motor, a newish CBM approach called Acoustics Lubrication.
“When inflection points are not adhered to, lubrication continues with possible adverse effects from over lubrication, such as premature bearings failure due to high temperatures, blown grease seals due to excessive internal pressure and possibly grease getting into the armature of the motor. The photo shows a motor that ran inefficiently for several months due to grease working its way into the stator body and rotor assembly. Eventually, grease was distributed into the windings.

Acoustic lubrication is the use of a high-frequency receiver or translator to detect sound that may relate to the condition of a motor bearing prior to lubricating the motor bearing. ‘

Here is a link to more information about this concept, Acoustic Bearing Lubrication. There could be many applications for a ski lift where bearings are a significant player in the well being of the ski lift operation.


The important point made here is how to reduce the cost and increases the use of the ski lift. This simple graphic does a good job in conveying the message of early detection.


Time and cost are the important components of the equation. Time is limited as we are not staffing due to lack of staff availability and cost is not only the cost to repair but the possible lost operating time.  Lost operating time is often not calculated, but it does have an impact on customer perception and their experience, which is priceless as they say.

It seems these added tools can improve our diagnostics and productivity.