Condition-based maintenance (CBM), shortly described, is maintenance when need arises. This maintenance is performed after one or more indicators show that equipment is going to fail or that equipment performance is deteriorating.
This concept is applicable to mission critical systems that incorporate active redundancy and fault reporting. It is also applicable to non-mission critical systems that lack redundancy and fault reporting.
Condition-based maintenance was introduced to try to maintain the correct equipment at the right time. CBM is based on using real-time data to prioritize and optimize maintenance resources. Observing the state of the system is known as condition monitoring. Such a system will determine the equipment's health, and act only when maintenance is actually necessary. Developments in recent years have allowed extensive instrumentation of equipment, and together with better tools for analyzing condition data, the maintenance personnel of today are more than ever able to decide what is the right time to perform maintenance on some piece of equipment. Ideally condition-based maintenance will allow the maintenance personnel to do only the right things, minimizing spare parts cost, system downtime and time spent on maintenance.
Despite its usefulness, there are several challenges to the use of CBM. First and most important of all, the initial cost of CBM can be high. It requires improved instrumentation of the equipment. Often the cost of sufficient instruments can be quite large, especially on equipment that is already installed. Wireless systems have reduced the initial cost. Therefore, it is important for the installer to decide the importance of the investment before adding CBM to all equipment. A result of this cost is that the first generation of CBM in the oil and gas industry has only focused on vibration in heavy rotating equipment .
Secondly, introducing CBM will invoke a major change in how maintenance is performed, and potentially to the whole maintenance organization in a company. Organizational changes are in general difficult.
Also, the technical side of it is not always as simple. Even if some types of equipment can easily be observed by measuring simple values as vibration (displacement or acceleration), temperature or pressure, it is not trivial to turn this measured data into actionable knowledge about health of the equipment.
As systems get more costly, and instrumentation and information systems tend to become cheaper and more reliable, CBM becomes an important tool for running a plant or factory in an optimal manner. Better operations will lead to lower production cost and lower use of resources. And lower use of resources may be one of the most important differentiators in a future where environmental issues become more important by the day.
A more down to earth scenario where value can be created is by monitoring the health of your car motor. Rather than changing parts at predefined intervals, the car itself can tell you when something needs to be changed based on cheap and simple instrumentation.
It is Department of Defense policy that condition-based maintenance (CBM) be "implemented to improve maintenance agility and responsiveness, increase operational availability, and reduce life cycle total ownership costs".
Advantages and disadvantages
CBM has some advantages over planned maintenance:
- Improved system reliability
- Decreased maintenance costs
- Decreased number of maintenance operations causes a reduction of human error influences
Its disadvantages are:
- High installation costs, for minor equipment items often more than the value of the equipment
- Unpredictable maintenance periods cause costs to be divided unequally
- Increased number of parts (the CBM installation itself) that need maintenance and checking
Today, due to its costs, CBM is not used for less important parts of machinery despite obvious advantages. However it can be found everywhere where increased reliability and safety is required, and in future will be applied even more widely.   
- CBM Policy Memorandum.
- Liu, Jie; Wang, Golnaraghi (2010). "An enhanced diagnostic scheme for bearing condition monitoring". IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement 59 (2): 309–321. doi:10.1109/tim.2009.2023814.
- Jardine, A.K.S.; Lin, Banjevic (2006). "A review on machinery diagnostics and prognostics implementing condition-based maintenance". Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 20 (7): 1483–1510. doi:10.1016/j.ymssp.2005.09.012.
- Gopalakrishna Palem (2013), Condition-Based Maintenance using Sensor Arrays and Telematics, International Journal of Mobile Network Communications & Telematics, Vol 3, No 3, pp. 19-28