Adding an extra layer to acoustic imagers to detect non-driven bearing failure

11 July 2023

To help users identify and localise ‘mechanical areas of interest’ within short timeframes, Fluke has added a new feature to its precision acoustic imagers.

The Firmware 5.0 update brings a MecQ facility to the imagers which help minimise unplanned downtime and reduce repair costs by enabling early identification of potential mechanical problems. 

Energy savings are also achieved by being able to carry out repairs early and reduce faults. 

The update was developed following research involving Fluke customers around the world in which maintenance specialists and technicians said their key focus was identifying issues as early as possible on the potential failure curve. Looking at various types of conveyor systems, the research showed that non-driven bearings are often the root cause of many mechanical faults. Because these systems are integral to the overall production process, lengthy periods of downtime could have a high impact in the factory and cause major issues along the supply chain. This applies in food and beverage production as much as it does in the logistics, electronics, automotive and mining/raw materials sectors. 

Fluke found that around 59% of conveyor belt systems are never inspected while another 11% are checked manually. The research showed that the least effective way of detecting a problem was human sensing followed by contact temperature and thermography. 

Testing using contact vibration or airborne ultrasound also represented a challenge – with ease of use being a significant issue with the latter – but acoustic imaging was found to offer the most effective method of all. 

Not only did customers say that the ability to localise issues was vital if substantial cost savings were to be achieved but they also needed a scalable solution that could help those with lengthy conveyor systems or where accessibility was an issue.

Using the Fluke ii910 acoustic imager with MecQ, the process of carrying out non-contact inspection on conveyor systems is simplified, with the unit identifying immediately through sound pattern comparison the locality of a mechanical area of interest. 

MecQ was developed to bring an extra layer of detection to the ii910 in addition to taking a picture, taking a video, carrying out leak detection with LeakQ and partial discharge detection in PDQ mode.

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