Ultrasound assisted lubrication basics: 3 ways to incorporate ultrasound in lubrication testing

March 3rd, 2016

When your bearings aren't lubricated properly, friction can cause damage and threaten processes. However, ultrasound equipment can read the decibel levels of over- and under-lubricated bearings and indicate to the maintenance technician if adjustments are in order. When dB levels are consistent, that tells the technician that lubrication is where it should be.

Regardless of the industry, the right lubrication methods will improve plant maintenance practices – and ultrasound is a great way to ensure optimal lubrication. There are three tiers of acceptable lubrication:

The baseline lubrication practice is to follow the bearing manufacturer's recommendations, to determine the exact amount of lubrication necessary based on bearing size, speed and type, and rely on runtime and operating conditions to develop a lubrication schedule. That's not a bad starting place, but it can still be improved upon.

The next level involves the use of ultrasound equipment for more exact lubrication procedures. These tools tell maintenance technicians when to stop lubricating a bearing, rather than hoping the schedule is accurate and guessing at bearing condition. Ultrasound can also inform technicians if there are other problems with the bearing unrelated to lubrication.

The ideal lubrication practice combines a frequency schedule and ultrasound tools with data collection and trend analysis. By examining the history of lubrication with dB levels and other sound files, maintenance technicians can begin to predict when bearings may be approaching failure and take action preemptively. Alarm levels can be set to alert technicians when lubrication is approaching dangerously low levels.

The best ultrasound programs allow the easy integration of data analysis with probes, listening devices and lubrication tools. Any plant maintenance program would benefit from using this system to optimize bearing efficiency and prevent failure.

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