Vibration condition monitoring and fault classification of rolling element bearings utilising Kohonen's self-organising maps

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Nkuna, Jay Shipalani Rhulani
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Bearing condition monitoring and fault diagnosis have been studied for many years. Popular techniques are applied through advanced signal processing and pattern recognition technologies. The subject of the research was vibration condition monitoring of incipient damage in rolling element bearings. The research was confined to deep-groove ball bearings because of their common applications in industry. The aim of the research was to apply neural networks to vibration condition monitoring of rolling element bearings. Kohonen's Self-Organising Feature Map is the neural network that was used to enable an automatic condition monitoring system. Bearing vibration is induced during bearing operation and the main cause is bearing friction, which ultimately causes wear and incipient spalling in a rolling element bearing. To obtain rolling element bearing vibrations a condition monitoring test rig for rolling element bearings had to be designed and built. A digital vibration measurement acquisition environment was created in Labview and Matlab. Data from the bearing test rig was recorded with a piezoelectric accelerometer, and an S-type load cell connected to dynamic signal analysis cards. The vibration measurement instrumentation was cost-effective and yielded accurate and repeatable measurements. Defects on rolling element bearings were artificially inflicted so that a pattern of bearing defects could be established. An input data format of vibration statistical parameters was created using the time and frequency domain signals. Kohonen's Self-Organising Feature Maps were trained in the input data, utilising an unsupervised, competitive learning algorithm and vector quantisation to cluster the bearing defects on a two-dimensional topographical map. A new practical dimension to condition monitoring of rolling element bearings was developed. The use of time domain and frequency domain analysis of bearing vibration has been combined with a visual and classification analysis of distinct bearing defects through the application of the Self-Organising Feature Map. This is a suitable technique for rolling element bearing defect detection, remaining bearing life estimation and to assist in planning maintenance schedules.
Thesis. (M. Tech. (Mechanical Engineering))--Vaal University of Technology
Bearing condition monitoring, Rolling element bearings, Vibration condition monitoring, Kohonen's Self-organising feature map, Bearing defects