Online Condition Based Monitoring | How do I get started?

Getting Started with Online Condition Based Monitoring for Substations

Online vs Offline

Increasing substation equipment failures has resulted in utilities looking for ways to monitor their equipment’s condition. Monitoring allows them to manage costs, reduce the risk of unexpected failure, and improve their ability to manage asset health. There are two kinds of monitoring: time-based and online condition-based monitoring.

Time Based Maintenance


Time-based monitoring involves periodic testing and maintenance to measure the health of an asset. This involves a crew traveling to the site to pull samples or run tests on equipment on a timed schedule. While this method can help identify asset problems, it also can be unreliable as many failures do not provide significant warning signs until a short time before the impending failure. You cannot catch problems reliably with a calendar.

Condition Based Monitoring


Online condition-based monitoring is implemented on transformers, breakers, switchgear, and other equipment to provide continuous data on the condition of the assets. An asset monitor collects historic data and sends an alarm when something looks out of place. Using this data, utilities identify issues early in the failure process and schedule an outage, if necessary. This method saves time, cost and keeps crews safe.

The 5 W's of Establishing a Successful Online Condition Based Monitoring Program

A well designed condition based monitoring program will enable your organization to make the right decisions at the right time with reliable asset knowledge, increased system reliability and safety benefits. It’s important to ask yourself the 5 W’s before implementing an online condition based monitoring program.

WHY Online Monitoring?

Transition to Condition Based Maintenance

Situational awareness is key to better performance.

Extending the Life of Existing Units

Diagnostics and monitoring play a key role in asset life expectancy providing cost avoidance.

Regulatory Requirements

Where certain key assets MUST have a record of monitoring actions that are subject to audits.


Condition based and preventative centered maintenance increases reliability.


Create network access restrictions so personnel are not on site if there is a significant safety concern.

Reduce Environmental Impacts

Reduce the risk of catastrophic events, leaks, loss of power for cooling equipment, and extra travel.

WHO will benefit from online monitoring?

Collaborating and sharing data with the industry can benefit all of us.

Switchgear Monitoring

Maintenance Groups

reduce maintenance costs while improving reliability.

Operations Groups

benefit from early warnings and situational awareness.

Asset Management Groups

understand risky units to prepare for replacement.

Standards Groups

write specifications for new units based on experience.

WHAT to monitor inside the substation?

What to monitor depends a great deal on the answer to “why”. It is possible to monitor most high voltage assets and their components.

WHERE should the monitoring system be implemented?


Critical Load

Hospitals, government buildings and other critical businesses require the power to be maintained under any circumstance.

Nuclear Plant


Failure at generation facilities could be catastrophic.

Hard to get to

Remote Locations

Locations that are difficult to get to quickly could pose a problem.

Needs attention

Extra Attention

Areas that need increased maintenance due to aging or other issues will benefit.

WHEN should the system be implemented?

Design Stage

When you are at the design stage and writing specifications for new transformers.


When the transformer is at the midlife point or at the refurbishment stage.

Fleet Update

When you help bring your entire fleet up to the latest standards.

Changing Equipment

When there is a change in equipment.

Comms Setup

When the communications are set up and ready to bring back data and alarms from site.

Additional Resources


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