When using a condition monitoring technology to diagnose faults in machines or other plant assets, it is important to create case histories of each diagnosis, whether it was correct or not. If one uses vibration analysis for example, to detect rolling element bearing wear in a machine, and if this data is trended until a decision is made to replace the bearings, a short report should be written that explains the data and the trends and the decision to overhaul. When the bearings are removed from the machine, they should be cut open and inspected to see if they were in fact damaged. Photographs should be taken and included in the case history. If the machine is tested again with new bearings, data should be collected and added to the report in order to show that the data looks different now that the new bearings are installed. If financial implications of this decision are calculable then they should also be included.
Good case histories are important because they are a way of documenting knowledge that can be used to train new employees in the future, used as reference when new situations arise and because they help to justify the use of the technology one is using. Reports should be displayed in public places in order to give other employees the chance to learn about and appreciate your work. Many trade magazines and websites are interested in publishing these case histories as a way to educate others in the field.