Why buy bearing indicators?

Almost all machinery that moves requires bearings. However, they are liable to degradation over time. Bearings will fail for a number of reasons but the key take away is that ALL bearings will degrade at some point and if they are left unchecked, maintained or replaced WILL fail. Knowing the root cause of damage can help prevent future failures. According to ISO 15243, damages left undiagnosed can actually mask the underlying cause if left too long. Most decay in bearing quality occur when lubrication has been used up in the bearing. Identifying when this happens and refilling the oil in the bearing a key way of extending life span.

1. Where are bearings used?

Below are a few examples of the industries and applications in which bearings are present. Many industries have machinery that requires some form of motion enabled by bearings.

1.1. Steel production facilities e.g. Cold rolling mill machinery.

1.2. Mining industry e.g. Machinery such as crushers, stackers, conveyors, vibrating feeders, magnetic separators, slurry and vacuum pumps, classifiers, agitators and compressors.

1.3. Paper processing industry e.g. Rolls, roll alignment, balance, and the condition of the electric motors and gearboxes.

1.4. Cement industry e.g. Mills, separators, roller presses, separators, conveyors, feeders, air compressors and fans.

1.5. Thermal power industry e.g. Gas and steam turbine generators

1.6. Maritime industry e.g. Diesel engines, gas turbines and nuclear reactor powered ships utilise bearings in all areas, from crankshafts to pistons and pumps.

2. Case study of bearing failure:

On 7 March 1997, the Polish flag general cargo vessel Lodz 2 was using one of its own cranes, discharging a general cargo of steel products, including bundles of steel pipes, from no. 2 hold and tween deck. The load, weighing approximately 8.6 tonnes, consisted of 18 lengths with diameters varying up to 273 mm. As the load reached the side of the ship, there was a violent jolt and a bang as the slew bearing failed, then the crane fell from its pedestal into the port tween deck of no. 2 hold. The crane was severely damaged and the badly twisted jib had to be cut up to remove it from the ship.

3. Why Buy a Portamonitor® Bearing Indicator?

84% of degradation to bearings occurs once installed. Monitoring can detect abnormalities caused by these and allow preparations for maintenance or replacement, ultimately avoiding failure and saving money. A failure of a bearing is not just the part itself, but for example in the marine industry, the cost to a vessel owner is repair, fitting and downtime in dock and loss of earning whilst not operational. Without systematic procedures and planned maintenance (enabled by condition monitoring) then cost can be very damaging to a business.

    • Portamonitor® is a sophisticated AE device that combines Distress® and db levels
    • Decibels indicate the actual noise signature of the bearing. By checking the noise of the bearing over time (whilst running at comparative speeds) as the noise increases, it indicates an increase in degradation of the bearing. This is used for continuous long-term monitoring, i.e. checking the bearing as part of scheduled maintenance, recording he readings each time and watching for a spike in readings
    • Distress provides an instant indication of bearing health. Readings over 10, indicate a bearing declining in condition
    • Sound generated by friction and impacts caused by poor lubrication or bearing damage propagates as a stress wave is detectable by the Portamonitor®.
    • Signal is processed at sensor level allowing quick and effective diagnostics.

4. Competitive Advantages of the Portamonitor®

Appropriate monitoring matters because false diagnosis can result in undue downtime, wasted time, money and resources.

4.1. When to use?

Portamonitor® can be used for pre-service (proof) testing as well as in-service (re-qualification) testing and condition monitoring.

4.2. Benefits of distress® readings

Distress® provides an instant indication of the health of the bearings. It measures the transient activity, such as impacts, friction and surface deformation caused by micro-pitting and fractures. Algorithms inside the Portamonitor® sort this data for comparison against acceptable limits categorized by a number.

4.3. Display

The display on the Portamonitor® will show a numeric value indicating the level of distress, for instance: 5-10 indicates the system in “OK”. Between the value of 10-15 indicates the system is “SUSPECT”, and requires further monitoring, whereas >15 indicates a “POOR” system and requires attention.

4.4. Low Cost & Money Saving

The Portamonitor® is low cost and is very easy to use and train crew and easy to integrate into scheduled maintenance. Using this regularly extends the lifetime of key pumps, bearings and gearboxes saving significant amounts of money over the lifetime of the vessel, extending the time between machinery replacement and ensuring failures do not occur at critical times.

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