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Ultrasound Condition Monitoring

Condition based monitoring and predictive maintenance has traditionally been performed through vibration analysis, shock pulse, infrared, and other technologies.

Ultrasound technology is often ignored but is an excellent option, especially for organizations without the luxury of large budgets or trained, certified personnel. The CTRL UL101 ultrasound detector is capable of accurately interpreting the sounds created by under lubrication, over lubrication, and early signs of wear. The right ultrasound technology is a fast and effective means of determining such conditions in moving, mechanical components such as bearings, gearboxes, motors, compressors, etc.

About Ultrasound

Ultrasound is produced by friction, impact, turbulence, and electrical discharge. Friction and impact are the by-products of mechanical equipment. For example, a roller bearing will produce friction as the shaft and balls roll around the center. If there is too much friction, however, problems begin to occur on the production line due to imbalance, or the bearing might seize, thereby shutting down production altogether.

Proper lubrication of critical bearings is important at all times. A properly lubricated bearing will produce a smooth rolling ultrasound, detectable by the CTRL UL101 ultrasound receiver, which is placed in contact with the bearing or gearbox housing.

If the bearing is over-lubricated, very little ultrasound will be heard through the headset. If the bearing is under-lubricated, the intensity of the bearing will increase dramatically and other sounds will be inherent such as fluttering or scratchiness. Indications of an under lubricated bearing will appear in ultrasound even before infrared can detect heat increases and well in advance of vibration analysis.

In addition, once a bearing begins to wear, the ultrasound wave will produce large spikes in the signal caused by bearing defects. The spikes are heard as pops through the headset and are very noticeable relative to the normal sounds of a new, properly lubricated bearing. Once the ultrasound produced by the bearing begins to indicate these characteristics, the replacement of the bearing can be planned during normal production shutdown. The detection of wear is instantaneous. It is not necessary to take readings of the bearing from several points of contact along different axes and send the readings away for analysis.

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