Condition Monitoring Expert Tip #5 by Mobius Institute
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) provides 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 the 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) provides a clearer indication of the 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.
Thank you Mobius Institute for this valuable tip!