Mistake #3 – Using a “Listen-Only” Ultrasound Instrument (Series 3 of 3)

September 20, 2016

Like any job there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Simply listening to a bearing with an ultrasound device that gives no quantitative feedback is a recipe for disaster. The audible feedback is too subjective to draw any comparative conclusions. No two people hear the same and there is no way to remember what the bearing sounded like a month ago.

The third mistake is depending solely on subjective ultrasound data when precise quantifiable data is available. Always use an ultrasound instrument with digital decibel metering. Better still, use a device that provides multiple condition indicators. Max and Peak RMS decibel measurements indicate alarm levels and greasing intervals while Ultrasonic Crest Factor provides insight about the bearing condition in relation to its lubricant. Crest factors help us differentiate between bearings that need grease and bearings that need to be replaced.

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Mistake #2 – Over and Under Lubrication (Series 2 of 3)

September 13, 2016

The second mistake we should all avoid is adding too much, or not enough grease. Too much grease builds up pressure pushing the rolling elements through the fluid film and against the outer race. Increased friction and temperature dramatically shorten the bearing’s life. Not enough grease will have the same life-shortening effect.

How do we know when just the right amount of grease has been added? Ultrasound of course. Listen to the bearing and measure the drop in friction as the grease fills the bearing cavity. As the decibel level approaches normal baselines and stabilizes carefully slow the application of lubricant. Should the decibel level begin to increase slightly, STOP! The job is done.

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Mistake #1 – Lubricating based on TIME instead of CONDITION (Series 1 of 3)

September 6, 2016

Lubricating a bearing once per week or once a month may seem like a sensible thing to do. After all, performing scheduled maintenance at regular periods is an age old concept ingrained in each of us early on. Even OEMs still advise best practices based on time intervals to ensure maximum asset lifespan.

The problem with any blanket solution is that they ignore the effects of variables.

Two motors may be the same out of the box but end up in entirely different situations. While one lands in a hot and humid climate, another could be installed in a cold and arid climate. One may be used in a high speed low load application while another at low speeds but with frequent starts and stops.

It is irrational to expect the maintenance needs of one to be the same for another when the conditions they operate in are so different.

Bearings need grease for one reason only; to reduce friction. As long as the lubricant is performing that service well, there should be no need to change it. Yet we frequently do, with catastrophic results.
Re-lubricating a bearing just because your calendar told you “time’s up!” is the first mistake. Monitor ultrasound friction and know when it’s the right time to grease.

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Nine “Ps” for profitable plant reliability improvement efforts

August 30, 2016

Guest post by Shon Isenhour, CMRP, CAMA, CCMP, Founding Partner at Eruditio LLC

So if you could sum up the common areas of focus during reliability improvement efforts what would they be?

The thought behind this blog post was if someone ask us what we are doing or what all is involved in a reliability improvement effort, how can we give them the scope in a concise, and memorable way. This could be used early on in the discovery or kick off phase to outline without overwhelming.

I have listed nine things that I would focus on and they all start with P for ease of remembering.

Predictive Maintenance
Using technology to understand equipment condition in a noninvasive way before the functional failure occurs
Example: Vibration, Ultrasonic, Infrared

Preventive Maintenance
Traditional and more invasive time based inspections which should be failure mode based
Example: Visual Inspection of gears in a gear box

Precision Maintenance
Doing the maintenance craft to the best in class standards to prevent infant mortality
Example: Alignment, Balancing, Bolt Torquing

Clear series of steps to identify, prioritize, plan, schedule, execute, and capture history with who is responsible for each
Example: Work Identification Process, Root Cause Process. Work Completion Process

Problem Solving
The process for understanding the real causes of problems and using business case thinking to select solutions that reduce or eliminate the chance of recurrence
Example: Root Cause Analysis, Fault Tree, Sequence of Events

Prioritizing of Work
The process of determining sequences of work as well as level of effort using tools like equipment criticality and work order type
Example: RIME index

These are the processes required to have the right part at the right time in the right condition at the right place for the right cost
Example: Cycle counting process, proper storage procedures, kitting process

Planned Execution
This piece is about taking the identified work and building the work instructions, work package and collecting the required parts and then scheduling the execution.
Example: Job Packages, Schedules, Gantt Charts

This is where we deal with the change management and leadership portion which is required in order to truly make a change to the organization
Example: Situational Leadership, Communication Planning, Risk Identification, Training

So here are my nine “Ps” that you can share as early communication to get your organization on board with your reliability efforts and develop the Profit we all want.

What would you add?

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Reliability, A Holistic Effort

August 23, 2016

As Published by Uptime Magazine August / September 2016 issue

The foundation of any great reliability effort is the reliability culture within the organization that sustains it. Everybody within the organization must be aligned with its ultimate goals and mission for the reliability effort to succeed. Therefore, the mission and values must be clearly communicated, with reasonable expectations for compliance.

A holistic approach to reliability-centered maintenance (Rcm) relies on good asset condition management (ACM). This, in turn, relies on accurate condition-based maintenance (CBM), which can only happen with good data. Planning and scheduling (Ps) personnel cannot do their job properly if the maintenance technicians do not feed good data into the system in a timely manner. So, one of the first steps must be to invest in a good enterprise asset management system (EAM) or computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), train all plant personnel in how to use it effectively and impress upon them how they as individuals are important to the overall reliability effort. Remember, the reliability effort relies as much on good data as the culture of cooperation that stands behind it and supports it. Everybody in the organization must understand the importance of their individual role in the wider mission of the organization and, in particular, their interaction with this data system.

Plant management must understand and respect the fact that the boots on the ground (i.e., their technicians and operators) are their best source of information. They are the ones that wrestle with the day-to-day problems and fix them. They know how the machines should sound, smell and feel. Respect their expertise and their opinions. Train your technicians. Invest in quality competency-based learning (Cbl). The knowledge and experience gained will pay off multifold in advancing the entire reliability effort. Give them the tools to do their job right. This means buying a good laser shaft alignment system, vibration analysis tools, and ultrasound leak and corona detection systems. This CBM approach will allow your organization to optimize the preventive maintenance effort (Uptime Element Pmo) required to deal with the problem.


Read the full article to learn how you too can take your reliability efforts to the next level within your organization.

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Monitoring the condition of slow speed bearings

August 16, 2016

Bearings are widely used in industrial applications and considered as crucial component. Bearing failures, when not detected in time, are responsible for unscheduled shutdown and expensive downtime. They may even lead to catastrophic breakdowns.

Slow speed bearing monitoring is a different story. When speaking about rotation speeds of less than 250 rpm the “normal” technologies, such as vibration or thermography, are usually blind to problems until it is too late. In slow speed bearing application early failure detection remains a notorious problem … for those who do not use ultrasound.


Monitoring the condition of slow speed bearings with ultrasound can reveal pitting, impacting, rubbing, and other mechanical defects well in advance of failure stage. Dynamic data is best analyzed in the time domain but it is important that a long enough time sample be captured. The golden rule is to capture 3 to 4 revolutions of the bearing.

So deciding how long is long enough is a matter of multiplying the number of shaft rotations (4) by the period (p). Period is the reciprocal of frequency or:
p = 1f

If you want to capture 4 rotations on a 15RPM bearing, therefore:

p = 10.25 * 4 = 16 seconds of data

To make data collection easy, the acquisition time parameter can be set up as part of your survey. So when you are creating your database in Ultranalysis Suite Software (UAS) simply enter 16 seconds.

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