Dos and Don’ts of Writing Condition Monitoring Reports
There is a right way and a wrong way to write a condition monitoring report. Let’s go over some dos and don’ts.
Know your audience
Highlight maintenance intervention recommendations in summaries or tables
Have an agreed-upon report format that is easy for the client to use
Listen to and acknowledge feedback from your client
Some clients need more information in the report—more technical analysis—and others just need the machine name, the severity, and the recommendation. One of the clients we deal with has a rotating equipment team which does not practice condition monitoring but offers vibration courses. They understand vibration and like us to provide all the technical details, especially if it is a commissioning or new machine report. This is also useful if a new contractor takes over—they will have the history of the machine.
You and your client should agree on the report format that’s easiest for them to use. My preference is to start the report with a summary that includes all the machine names, the severity, and the recommendation. If someone doesn’t have time to read through the whole report, they can look at the summary. But don’t expect your client to understand all the technical information.
Expect your client to be as technically proficient as you
Write the report as a series of reminders to yourself
Surprise your client with new emergent issues that you have not already discussed with them
Leave your client to determine the best course of action in isolation
Fill your report with non-urgent items that will distract from the urgent items
A technician may not understand something like “outer-race frequency with sidebands and harmonics at 174 Hz.” That technician just needs to know whether to replace the bearing or leave it in.
If you need to take notes for yourself, do so, but don’t make that the report. Obviously, tell your client about any problems immediately. If you find vibration that indicates unbalance, don’t wait a month to tell them in the report. Give the maintenance team a quick phone call or email so they can deal with the machine.
Your client will make the final decision about what to do, but be clear and decisive in your diagnosis and recommendation. Dithering will make you look unprofessional. If your client asks “Are you sure it’s the bearing,” or something like that, you can explain the technology you used and what it showed you.
Don’t fill the report with minor issues that do not need attention. Your clients will see you as someone who overestimates problems. Tell them if something is getting close to the alarm level, but don’t highlight something if no action is required.
About the Author
Salah AttiaSenior Condition Monitoring Engineer, ALS Industrial