Bearings can fail due to a number of reasons, including out of spec operation, high temperatures, poor installation, excessive vibration, poor lubrication, and manufacturing or material defects.
In this game of chances, technicians can use preventive inspection technologies such as ultrasonic equipment to detect the early signs of bearing failure.
Ultra-sonic testing is a widely used non-destructive testing method based on the propagation of waves in the examined object. In the case of bearings, it can reveal the level of lubrication, the rotational speed, and even enable engineers to set up remote/online monitoring systems.
Inspection technicians can perform comparative tests, analyze historical data from previous measurements, or conduct in-depth analysis based on one-off measurements. Usually, a gain of 8 dB is indicative of a pre-failure condition that is attributed to inadequate lubrication. When the gain reaches 12 dB, failure starts to get accompanied by abnormal noise and vibration. From 16 dB and up, the damage that is done on the bearing is non-reversible, while anything above 35 dB of gain is an indication of a catastrophic failure. This is why setting up monitoring systems with low-level dB gain thresholds that monitor operation 24/7 is crucial.
If you’re wondering why a technician should take a preventive approach in the maintenance of the bearings, the answer is simple.
Replacing bearings that failed is rarely a straightforward procedure. Usually, there is damage to adjacent components like rotating shafts, so there is an additional cost to cover on top of that of a new bearing.
Finally, monitoring an operating bearing with ultrasonic probes helps with the lubrication and seamless operation, so its expected service life expectancy is greatly extended. Minimizing the downtimes and containing the damage in the case that things go bad, and helping bearings keep on going for much longer should be enough to convince any technician out there about the pivotal role of ultrasound testing.