Monitoring equipment using acoustic emission works on the principle of using transient elastic waves to detect the rapid release of strain energy caused by deformations or damage within the surface of materials. Strains, stresses and impacts produce transient stress (elastic) waves which can be effectively detected and occur in the very early stages of bearing degradation.

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A condition monitoring system will assess the early detection of failure and acoustic monitoring systems or acoustic emissions techniques are essential. Acoustic condition-based monitoring will provide warnings of developing problems as well as the potential to apply new techniques. Acoustic monitoring equipment will use techniques based on the use of accelerometers, the vibration analysis can be classified into three categories. Acoustic emission monitoring systems provide a range of features and areas of excellence, they’re known for providing the best protection and longest period of warnings for potential damage and eventual failure. Acoustic monitoring systems can help to prevent the worst and when problems have been identified, the appropriate technologies can be recommended in order to provide a complete picture of the likely failure mechanism.

The acoustic condition monitoring indicators that we manufacture are condition indicator tools that use powerful monitoring techniques in order to analyse the heath state of machinery, especially when it comes to the health and lubrication of bearings. It includes magnetic sensors that can be attached to a machineries outer casting and take readings over a short period of time, helping to assess the condition of the moving parts within. An overall noise decibel level (dB) will be returned with a distress level, measurements can then be analysed quickly and compared to other readings in order to discover if preventative maintenance is necessary. Robust ultrasonics can take 1000 readings between charges, this is done through standard USB leads to ensure easy charging for users. The system will aid identification of mechanically deteriorated bearings and bearings that have inadequate or contaminated lubricant.

Acoustic Condition Based Monitoring

The acoustic ultrasonic monitoring indicators that we provide here at Coltraco aim to enhance preventative maintenance and condition based monitoring through comparing accurate and repeatable results to past measurements. These tools are essential in order to plan for future repairs and make quick fixes before bigger faults occur, they’re also extremely sensitive, so the results are very accurate. These ultrasonics will detect high frequency ultrasonic stress waves that are associated with friction and other faults with machinery in poor conditions. Acoustic conditioning is most suitable for use on motors, pumps, fans, generators and other rotating machinery applications, the results include two outputs that will be displayed simultaneously, decibel (dB) and a Distress level.

Coltraco’s acoustic based monitoring tool is the first of its type in the world, the pocket size Portamonitor includes a powerful ultrasonic monitoring technique to test bearings and rotating machinery and is suitable for a number of industries including ships and vessels. This tool will detect stress waves that are associated with friction and poor conditioning and will include a range of quick and efficient readings, then the acoustic Portamonitor will return an overall noise decibel and Distress level on a clear display. Our tools come with full instructions and ensure ease of use so that you can make sure that safety and integrity is enhanced and accessible. The acoustic monitoring Portamonitor has the ability to take 1000 readings between charges and is the perfect condition monitoring tool for making sure that bearings are in good condition and that they are adequately lubricated in vessel’s engine rooms, bearings in motors, pumps, fans, gearboxes and other rotating machinery.

Acoustic Monitoring for Machinery

When it comes to machinery, early detection of failures and issues are crucial, listening and measuring with acoustic monitoring can easily distinguish healthy bearings from damaged ones, this is through the onset of noise. The acoustic ultrasonic testing will cover a range of data including vibrations, rotations and temperature measurements, as well as alarms, acoustic monitoring in industry really is an effective solution. The acoustics will produce a broad sound spectrum that is usually monitored by vibration in low frequencies, some specific defects will produce acoustic waves that come with high frequencies, this will impact for bearings and gearboxes, friction or rubbing for lubrication and cavitation for pumps. One of the biggest advantages of acoustic condition monitoring is that it’s easy to monitor bearings and degradation that could be masked in low frequency analysis. The use of ultrasonic resonant sensors acts as a mechanical amplifier of high frequencies, ultrasonic acoustics comes with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio that allows the detection of weak variations from background vibrations. The results show that acoustic ultrasonic technology is selective in highlighting at an early stage, defects against low frequency problems as well as the great effectiveness in low speed equipment monitoring.

The Portamonitor is a state of the art condition monitoring tool, it’s sensitivity means that it provides accurate results when detecting faults, the technology aids detection of deteriorated bearings when it comes to operating machinery, it can also identify bearings that may have inadequate lubrication or lubricant contamination. The Portamonitor provides unique signal detection and processing for bearings in motors, pumps, fans, gearboxes and other rotating machinery equipment and applications. The readings will provide insight into the planning of future repair actions, as well as assist in identifying the need for improved lubrication.

How it Works

The acoustic instruments that we provide will listen for frictions and impacts that are caused by poor lubrication or bearing damage. Next, sound is generated by the bearings and this will propagate through the machine, using a sensor that sends a signal, the user will then be able to detect the noise by using signal processing, the user can then determine the condition of the bearing. A decibel reading will show the intensity of the signal being received, essentially this is how ‘loud’ the high frequency sound product by the bear is, it’s not affected by sound that’s audible to the human ear. The reading will increase with deteriorating function of the bearing, the decibel reading is a very repeatable measurement, if the state of the bearing hasn’t changed, then the decibel reading won’t either. It’s recommended that logs are kept of the decibel reading for each site, this will permit identification of deteriorating bearings as the decibel reading begins to increase. The Distress signal will show how much the decibel reading is varying in level throughout one measurement, this will represent how much the bearing is knocking, clanking or grinding. This is a useful indicator of whether the bearing is damaged, poorly lubricated or malfunctioning, and whether it requires maintenance. This is useful as it’s automatically calculated and displayed by the Portamonitor so it will need minimum input from the yser and will give a reliable and instant indication of the state of the bearing. 

More About Acoustic Monitoring

Acoustic emissions are one of the technologies for health monitoring and diagnosis of rotating machines, extensive research and investigation has shown the effectiveness of acoustic technologies in identifying types of defects in machinery. The application of signal processing methods are necessary for monitoring machinery and the use of condition monitoring tools has found to be effective in denoising the necessary signals. The Portamonitor is an innovative tool that allows these types of acoustic assessments to be carried out safely and accurately, it's the first of its type in the world, so when it comes to acoustic ultrasonic technology, Coltraco are the team to call on. 

The Portamonitor is pocket size so can be carried around as needed, it includes only the most pioneering ultrasonic monitoring techniques, allowing you to test bearings and rotating machinery for a number of industries. The tool works by detecting stress waves that are associated with friction and poor conditioning, after providing a number of quick, effective and efficient readings, the tool will return an overall noise decibel and distress level on a clear display. The Coltraco Portamonitor comes with full instructions and guarantees ease of use, ensuring enhanced safety and integrity. What’s more is the tool can take up to 1000 readings in between charges and it is an ideal condition monitoring tools for ensuring that bearings are in a good condition, as well as being adequately lubricated in vessel’s engine rooms, bearings in motors, pumps, fans, gearboxes and other rotating machinery. 

More About Coltraco

At Coltraco, all of our products are carefully hand built and undergo rigorous quality testing to make sure that they meet the high standards expected by our customers, as well as provide them with long term reliability.

Our customer care includes:

  • 1 year warranty
  • Guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship
  • Technical support for the life time of all equipment, by telephone or email

The Portacare Plan

As well as standard after sales customer care, you can upgrade to Coltraco’s Portacare plan, our 3-5 year total care and maintenance package includes:

  • Capping the cost of ownership during the term you choose.
  • Guarantee maximum operational ability so the equipment is ready to use whenever you need it.
  • Backup units are provided in the event of fault.
  • Supporting you above and beyond the warranty.
  • Providing you with peace of mind so that you can have confidence that your Portamonitor is maintained.

What are the advantages of condition monitoring?

Using appropriate condition monitoring tools matters because damage to bearings can result in undue downtime, wasted time, money and resources.

When to use a bearing tester instrument?

The handheld Portamonitor® can be used for pre-service bearing condition testing as well as in-service testing and condition monitoring.

Benefits of Portamonitor® condition monitoring report Options

The Portamonitor® has two units of measurement for bearing health: decibel and Distress®. Distress® provides an instant indication of the health of the bearings. It measures impacts, friction and surface deformation caused by micro-pitting and fractures. Algorithms inside the Portamonitor® sort this data for comparison against acceptable limits categorised by a number.

Utilising acoustic emission condition monitoring, the Portamonitor® operates precisely how the user expects and wants – indicating the current state and progressive condition of bearings in two simple and easy to understand values:

a. Distress Level – Current state: ‘OK’ ‘SUSPECT’ ‘POOR’ (inc. numerical equivalent).

b. Decibel Level – Trend (Ability to track degradation over time).
Display on the bearing checking instrument

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.

How does bearing monitoring save cost and time?

The Portamonitor® is a low cost and is very easy to use bearing servicing tool 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. The Portamonitor® offers faster processing time at sensor level, thus reducing overall maintenance time.

Why buy a bearing checker?

Almost all machinery that moves requires bearings for its rotating equipment. Degradation of the bearing happens over time. Condition based monitoring is important as 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. A key failure comes from a lack of bearing lubricant. Using bearing monitoring equipment to understand the root cause of damage can help prevent future failures. According to ISO 15243, damage to rotating machinery left undiagnosed can actually mask the underlying cause if left too long.

Do bearings need lubrication?

Most decay in bearing quality occur when lubrication has been used up in the bearing. Identifying machinery health and refilling the oil in the bearing a key way of extending life span. The Portamonitor® is the ideal tool for lubricant analysis condition monitoring. The Portamonitor® is a preventative bearing maintenance tool, a proven technology that can help users identify the onset of catastrophic failure and take planned action to prevent failure of machinery.

What types of bearings are commonly measured by the Portamonitor®?

Using acoustic bearing monitoring, condition and lubrication state of all rolling element bearings, examples such as: ball bearings, needle bearing & roller bearings can be found.

The Portamonitor® also tests all hydrostatic and hydrodynamic bearings, examples such as: plain bearing (journal bearing, linear bearing, thrust bearing) & trankpin bearing.

What bearing rotation speeds can be measured by the Portamonitor®?

As low as 45 rpm to as high as 8,000 rpm.

Why use acoustic emission monitoring instead of vibration analysis?

Acoustic emission testing is very effective at detecting deformation due to formation of cracks or friction which occur in the very early stages, independent of machine dynamics. These defects give off an acoustic emission pulse well before they can be detected by vibrational analysis. Unlike Vibrational Analysis, the Portamonitor® is not influenced by the natural frequency of the machinery. Using acoustic emission monitoring, there is no need to remove the bearing for testing.

What types of bearing failure are covered by the Portamonitor®?

Excessive load – bearing damage and housing causing premature fatigue/failure

Overheating – excessive temperatures can anneal the ring and bearing material, reducing hardness causing early failure.

Beating Lubrication levels and contamination – causes friction contacts and mechanical impacts, respectively.

Crack formation – early stages of wear as a result of impacts or excessive loading can cause deformation and will evolve to failure.

Where are bearings found?

Steel production facilities

  • Steel and iron use cold rolling mill machinery. The working rolls of the plant are the most extensively monitored. This is quite a challenging bearing monitoring environment due to high temperatures, high and low-speed operation, as well as high contamination of water and debris


Mining industry

  • Slow turning rolling element bearings require monitoring in this industry. Machinery such as crushers, stackers, conveyors, vibrating feeders, magnetic separators, slurry and vacuum pumps, classifiers, agitators and compressors.

Paper processing industry

  • Paper making machine bearings operate under very high temperatures and can be vulnerable to fractures of the inner ring, causing stoppages in production. Monitoring is done to determine the condition of the rolling-element bearings of the rolls, roll alignment, balance, and the condition of the electric motors and gearboxes.

Cement industry

  • Many machines in this industry require monitoring of bearing condition, including crushers, mills, separators, roller presses, separators, conveyors, feeders, air compressors and fans. Most of which use rolling-element bearings powered by electric motors.

Thermal power industry

  • Gas and steam turbine generators and combined cycle plants require their most critical machines monitored. Dynamic rotating machines use high-speed rotating parts. The cost of failure in this industry is far-reaching.

Maritime industry

  • Diesel engines, gas turbines and nuclear reactor powered ships utilise bearings in all areas, from crankshafts to pistons and pumps. Also, gearboxes fans and other motors onboard, such as alternators used to generate electricity.

When using the Portamonitor® for bearing maintenance, is it affected by environmental conditions?

The Portamonitor is not affected by environmental conditions which can mask late-onset bearing damage when analysing vibration data. Elastic waves that are produced by fractures or debris inside bearing systems produce various frequencies – all of which are analysed automatically inside the Portamonitor and converted to an easy to understand value allowing first-time users the ability to conduct advanced maintenance.

Equipment Inspection Procedure

The Portamonitor® bearing condition tester is incredibly easy to use.

1. Simply turn the unit on
2. Apply ultrasonic couplant to the sensor and surface you are testing
3. Press the search button and place on bearing for 10 seconds
4. Results will then show

A demonstration video of how to measure machine health can be found here: