Mechanical shock values applied in condition monitoring of bearings operating under variable speed and load conditions

Thumbnail Image
Olivier, Allan Andre
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Monitoring the condition of equipment in industry is very important to prevent unplanned breakdowns and to prolong their life. This is necessary, since it is not always economically viable to stop equipment at regular intervals to do maintenance. Failure on machines can lead to high repair costs and production losses. It is thus of paramount importance that early failure symptoms be identified by means of condition monitoring. This study in the field of condition monitoring is performed to determine if the mechanical shock values induced in defect bearings could be used to measure the condition of a bearing while operating under variable speed and variable load. Variable speed and variable load is becoming more popular in industry because variable speed drives applications ensure effective process control. Variable speed application, cause fault frequencies to fluctuate and therefore vibration applications for constant speed applications, which are speed-dependent, can no longer apply. Vibration-monitoring techniques that have applied for many years have now become obsolete in these variable speed applications. Methods such as Short Time Fourier Transformation (STFT), time scale like wavelet transform, and Order tracking has been applied in variable speed applications with some success. These methods analyses the vibration phases on the signal buy compensating for the speed changes. In this thesis, the Shock pulse method is selected as the analyses tool to measure the mechanical shock. Shock pulse monitoring does not focus on the vibration phases but measures in a small-time window when mechanical shocks are induced in the bearing material before the vibration phase. There is very little documented research in the field of mechanical shock pulse monitoring for conditions of variable speed and variable loads, and therefore this research focuses on recording these mechanical shock values by empirical tests. The tests were performed on a bearing with an induced defect on the outer race. The rolling element of the bearing strikes the defect and the mechanical shock value (dBsv) is measured. The mechanical shock is measured with the Shock pulse method in a small-time window before vibration occurs. In this time window, the dBsv is recorded over time to provide diagnostic information of the bearing during acceleration, deceleration and various loading conditions. These mechanical shocks are elastic waves that mirror the impact-contact-force's time function and the Shock pulse monitoring accelerometer, which is tuned to 32 kHz, will respond to the elastic wave fronts with transient amplitudes proportional to the square of the impact velocities. The mechanical shock values were analysed and reoccurring fault levels were identified on each empirical test. These recurring events from the empirical tests were used as primary data for analysis in this research. These tests were performed on a bearing with an induced failure and it was found that the dBsv measured over time could not be used to monitor the condition of the bearing under variable speed applications. This was because the dBsv changed as the speed increased. To overcome this problem Sohoel’s theory was applied and the initial mechanical shock value (dBi) was calculated for the bearing. The dbi value was subtracted from the dBsv and a value called the maximum mechanical shock value (dBm) was obtained. The dBm values stayed constant for the duration of the test and this allowed the condition of the bearing to be measured under variable speed and variable load conditions with some exception. The exception to the findings was that the dBm values stayed constant during acceleration phases, but during the deceleration phases the values were erratic and scattered. At speed below 200rpm the dBm values did not stay constant and therefore it was concluded that the dBm value recorded the best results only when thrust on the bearing was maximum. The other exception was under no-load conditions. The values were erratic and scattered, and therefore the results were not a true reflection of the bearing condition. The third exception was that the results on bearings with various loads remained constant during increased load changes unless the loading was erratic. During erratic load changes, the results were affected. The results also indicated that the larger the defect on the bearing raceway, the higher the dBm values were. Multipil defects on the bearing race ways were not part of this thesis and this gives an opertunity for futher research. The Shock pulse monitoring technique was 100% successful in monitoring the bearing condition only while the speed of the bearing was increasing. The results obtained in this work demonstrated that the condition of bearings can be monitored in applications of variable speed and variable load if the exception are eliminated and to obtain conclusive results the mechanical shock pulses should be measured over time and not be used as once-off value.
M. Tech. (Mechanical Engineering) Vaal University of Technology
Condition monitoring, Mechanical shock values, Defect bearings, Shock pulse method