Condition Monitoring/Predictive Maintenance

Condition Based (CBM) versus Planned Periodic Maintenance (PPM)

Surprisingly, many companies still use a system of Planned Periodic Maintenance in an attempt to avoid costly downtime arising from the failure of their equipment and machinery. In other words, they replace parts that tend to wear out (e.g. motor bearings) on a routine basis whether they need replacing or not. Not only is this needlessly costly, but can make matters worse by introducing faults during the process of stripping down and rebuilding a perfectly good machine. Even more of a problem is deciding the PPM time intervals. Too frequent, means more wasted time and cost (and more potential for introducing faults) but not frequent enough, means more unexpected breakdowns.

Condition Based Maintenance relies on the fact that a machine’s condition (degree of wear) can be monitored, by measuring the vibration levels in motor bearings for example. This way, the machine only needs to be maintained when its condition deteriorates beyond an acceptable level. This decision is based on recording and tracking changes in the machine’s condition over time (trending). Put simply, CBM philosophy is if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it!

This approach obviously saves time and money since machine parts are only changed when they need to be. However, CBM can potentially save a lot of money by spotting a machine that is about to fail prematurely before it fails and hence avoid an unexpected and costly shutdown.

Clearly, CBM is a superior technique but until now, its cost of implementation has put off some companies from using it. Traditionally, both CBM equipment and the expertise required to use it has been prohibitively expensive.

Test Products International (TPI) has however completely revolutionised this concept with the introduction of its low cost, portable vibration analysers and free to use trending software. Both the analysers and software are very easy to use, stemming from the fact that they are very intuitive and based on internationally agreed (ISO) alarm levels for rotating machinery.

TPI’s free to use VibTrend machine management and trending software stores machine condition readings and displays their trends in a clear and easily understood graphical format. In addition, various ‘expert system’ features are incorporated into the software, such as bearing quality assessment, which is achieved by analysing the frequency components of the vibration data and automatically identifying the classic ‘signatures’ associated with bearing wear. That way, it is very easy to monitor the health of a bearing simply by observing the level of bearing quality displayed on the trend plots.

A complete CBM system can cost from as little as £1,450 with the TPI 9080, which uses industry standard accelerometers and offers on-meter analysis for the detection of machine faults such as unbalance, misalignment, looseness and bearing wear. The equivalent intrinsically safe version (IEC Ex, ATEX and North American) TPI 9080Ex offers a complete Zone 1 CBM solution for £3,500. Both versions include a full VibTrend free to use unlimited software license.

For more information please contact TPI Europe’s head office on +44 1293 530196 or take a look on the website at or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article can alos be found in this issue below.


Bearing Lubrication Reimagined: Remote and Real Time Friction Monitoring and Lubrication

What if we could lubricate our bearings remotely, from any device, making sure that the right amount and right lubricant are always used – and even better, based on bearing condition? Then we would address the 3 main lubrication issues which cause most of early bearing failures. Today this is already possible. Using ultrasonic sensors and single point lubrication devices, all connected to a central system, we can now bring lubrication practices to a whole new level!

Prevention in place of monitoring

We have a serious problem with bearing condition monitoring! Technology is making it easier and more cost-effective to monitor our bearings in real-time and as a result, we are seeing sensors and systems being installed on equipment at an exponential rate.  

There is a race from these monitoring systems to detect the onset of failure (Point P on the P-F curve) at the earliest possible point. And this race to detect a failure is a serious problem. We are spending more money and extra TIME to detect a failure when we should be preventing that failure in the first place.   

Addressing lubrication issues – the root of most bearing failures

It is no secret that over 80% of premature bearings failures can be traced back to lubrication related issues. These issues can be put into three general categories: inadequate lubrication (over or under lubricated), wrong lubricant, and contamination. When it comes to addressing premature bearing failure, reducing the impact on just one of these issues can have a large impact on the bearing life. But when we start to address all three, then we canreach excellence in our lubrication programs.

It’s all about the friction levels

A lot of expertise needs to be designed into the bearing selection and lubrication requirements, no technology will likely ever replace the need for trained and experienced lubrication experts.But when it boils down to it, it is all about friction - that’s why they are called anti-friction bearings.

Once the correct bearing is installed properly and the right lubricant is chosen, it comes down to managing that friction in the bearing by using the correct regreasing volume and frequency. Simple to understand but often difficult to put intopractice.

Time based lubrication vs condition-basedusing ultrasound to avoid under and over-lubrication

One technique is to use time-based lubrication. In this case, regreasing is done based on time, with a predetermined amount of grease. This method is often based on an ideal calculation that is not reflective of the real-life condition that influences the friction in the bearing. This often leads to under greasing or over greasing the bearing.

A step-change in lubrication practices came with condition-based lubrication. Using ultrasound to measure the friction in real-time to determine exactly when lubrication (and how much)is required to bring the friction back to or near the ideal level. Moving to ultrasound-assisted lubrication will ensure we do not over or under lubricate but has still not addressed the two other lubrication related issues: using the correct lubricant, and contamination.

What about automatic lubricators?

To address these two other lubrication issues many have turned to automatic lubrication devices or auto lubers. Automatic lubrication provides a safer and more convenient method of supplying the precise amount of lubricant into the bearings on a more frequent basis.

These devices ensure we always use the correct grease stored in the device but also reduce or eliminate the possibility of contamination caused by the operational environment. These devices are time-based and set to dispense lubricant on a set frequency or run time.

The auto lubricant devices have evolved to become smarter. Many of them not only dispense the lubricant but can also set alarms based on excessive feedback and low lubricant.

The best of two worlds: SmartLube – single point lubricator, remotely operated, based on friction levels

We have two solutions addressing the different aspects of the common lubrication issues. On one side we have ultrasound-assisted lubrication, using friction to determine when and how much lubrication is required. Combined with good lubrication practices, it will provide benefits but still requires an investment in time and training to ensure the proper lubricant is used to reduce the potential of contamination.

On the other side, we have automatic lubrication devices ensuring the correct, contaminant-free lubricant but still based on time or running hours versus the condition or friction in the bearing, often still leading to not optimizing lubrication frequency.

What if we were able to combine the proven precision and best practice of condition-based lubrication using ultrasound with the convenience, safety, and accuracy of automatic lubrication devices? We would then have a solution that allows us to lubricate our bearings only when required by measuring friction and ensuring we always use the correct, contaminant-free lubricant every time. That’s exactly what the SmartLube from UE Systems does.

Lubricate based on friction, from any device, anywhere

When we use technology to make all this remotely operated, we can now monitor the real-time friction of our bearings and, when needed, remotely dispense the correct lubricant. All this with theconfidence that the lubricant is getting to the bearing with real-time alerts and notifications from any internet-connected device, anywhere in the world!  

The OnTrak SmartLube by UE Systems has the power of real-time bearing friction monitoring and the convenience, safety, and accuracy of single-point bearing lubricators. Lubrication experts can now lubricate remotely with confidence from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

How does it work?  

This disruptive device works with a simple concept: ultrasonic sensors are permanently mounted on the bearings to monitor friction levels. All this data is sent to a central processing unit – the OnTrak – and can be viewed in dashboards using any internet-connected device. The OnTrak then is also connected to single point lubrication devices. Based on the friction levels and on setup alarms, we now have the possibility to tell the OnTrakthat a certain bearing needs lubricant. The OnTrak will then instruct the SmartLube – single point lubricator – to dispense lubricant, just the right amount. And the best part: all can be done remotely, anywhere, anytime.



The next generation of lubrication systems

The world's first temperature independent electro-chemical lubrication system.

EUERDORF. If you have ever used an electrochemical lubrication system, you know the effect that fluctuating ambient temperatures have on the discharge and the discharge period.

The February 2010 edition now available to read online.

The February 2010 edition of Engineering Maintenance Solutions magazine is now available to read online. This edition contains articles on achieving best practice in condition monitoring and plant maintenance. As well as special focuses on value driven  maintenance, ATEX Equipment and more as well as the latest industry news and products.

Live Turbine Health

Monitran Technology’s digital signal processing (DSP) unit delivers real-time turbine blade tip condition monitoring.

Monitran Technology, the R&D arm of vibration and displacement sensor OEM Monitran, has developed a digital signal processing (DSP) unit for the real-time monitoring of turbine blade conditions.

The unit reflects ‘live’ blade health by providing traffic-light-type indicators: green for safe, amber for advisory and red for danger. Also, for each condition, there is a programmable output capable of switching up to 30V at 5A, which means the unit can be easily integrated into control circuitry and to provide an automatic shut-down of the turbine if necessary.

Kittiwake increase range of main engine monitoring solutions

These two new offerings along with many of our other solutions including LinerSCAN help you extend engine life, increases efficiency, and reduces emissions to assist with environmental compliance.

The DieselSCOPE performance analyser is designed by marine engineers for marine engineers.  The portable, handheld unit helps you monitors the combustion process in the diesel engine in real time allowing you to tune the engine whilst measuring. Using DieselSCOPE you can balance cylinder load, optimize injection timing and detect worn or damaged engine components and thus reduce the engine’s operating cost.

Certified for use Down Under

Monitran’s Group I intrinsically safe sensors are awarded ANZEx for use in mining applications in Australia and New Zealand.

All of Monitran’s Group I intrinsically safe accelerometers and velocity transducers have been approved by certification body Simtars to ANZEx for use in mining applications throughout Australia and New Zealand. This certification is in addition to the (EU) ATEX and (International) IECEx approvals Monitran’s Group I sensors already possess.

Andy Anthony, Monitran’s Operations Director, comments: “Many countries, whilst acknowledging international standards like IECEx, still impose their own standards for certain applications. We sought ANZEx in response to requests from end-users based in Australia and New Zealand, and companies based elsewhere wishing to supply machinery into these countries.”

The Concepts and Benefits of On-Line Motor Monitoring as a Condition Monitoring / PM Tool for Industry

By:  Ernesto Wiedenbrüg, Baker Instrument Company, an SKF Group Company

Gone are the days when a MegOhm meter and a digital multi-meter were the main tools in electrical maintenance.  Advances in technology now offer engineering professionals both off-line and on-line (real time) instruments to verify the health of rotating machinery.  

Modern on-line technologies permit assessment of the ‘whole motor system’, which is comprised of three components:  power, motor & load.  By focusing on these three components, troubleshooting now becomes truly predictive!

Reliability Engineering - What’s it all about?

The contribution of maintenance to an organisation is unfortunately too often not fully understood until something goes wrong e.g. a failure of a significant plant item or asset.This will inevitably result in a consequential loss through the inability to produce or provide a service or the occurrence of an environmental health, safety or quality incident.