Which is the best bearing fault detection technique?
Now, this is a tricky question to answer… We have a few contenders: high-frequency vibration analysis, regular vibration analysis, ultrasound, oil analysis, wear particle analysis, and infrared analysis. Let’s start by ruling a few of them out.
Infrared analysis is used to detect heat in a bearing, which is a late stage fault condition, so that’s not your best option. Regular oil analysis can detect the presence of the wear metals within the bearing, but wear particle analysis is a better tool for that. Regular vibration analysis (i.e. velocity spectra) provide very clear indications of bearing faults, however, the high-frequency detection techniques provide an earlier warning. That leaves high-frequency vibration analysis, ultrasound, and wear particle analysis.
Ultrasound is easiest to use. Push the probe against the bearing and listen carefully and you will hear if the bearing is in distress. (You can also record and analyze a waveform, but now you may as well be performing vibration analysis). Many would argue that high-frequency vibration analysis (such as enveloping, PeakVue, shock pulse, and others) provide a clearer indication of nature and the severity of the fault. But it does require more training and potentially a more expensive system to perform the collection and analysis.
And that leaves wear particle analysis. Let’s just say that if you own critical gearboxes, you absolutely must perform wear particle analysis. Performed correctly, you will detect the first signs of wear, and complex gearboxes provide a greater challenge for the vibration analyst and the ultrasound tools.
Although I haven’t really answered the question, I am hoping to have put you in a position to make the right decision for your situation.
About the Author
Jason TranterFounder & CEO, Mobius Institute
Jason Tranter is the founder and CEO of Mobius Institute. Jason is the author of the majority of the Mobius Institute training courses and e-learning products covering reliability improvement, condition monitoring, and precision maintenance topics. Over 35,000 people (as of 2020) have been formally trained in these courses, and many thousands more have been educated via the elearning courses. Plus, thousands have read articles, attended conference presentations, and watched videos and webinars on many sites, including cbmconnect.com, reliabilityconnect.com, and YouTube (over 1.3 million views).