For rotating machines, it is necessary to reduce friction most of the time to increase efficiency, decrease power losses and support loads. The element of choice is the well known team of bearing and lubricant. Bearings, in their different configurations, are one of the most efficient ways to reduce friction between a stationary and a rotational part of a mechanism.
Two broad classes of bearings exist: plain bearings and rolling contact bearings. Which type of bearing is used depends on several factors related to the design of the machine and its process. Sometimes both types are used in the same machine doing different jobs. For this article, the focus is on plain bearings.
Choosing the best technology to monitor friction and condition in plain bearings is a challenge. Due to the physical characteristics of plain bearings, using vibration analysis (VA) is more effective for rolling contact bearings and less so for plain bearings. Ultrasound (US) is trending more frequently for condition monitoring of rolling contact bearings and it also shows promise for plain bearings. Understanding the physical differences between the two bearing categories is critical for developing condition monitoring strategies for plain bearings using ultrasound.
Read on to find out more about plain bearing types, failure modes and how to monitor.