Maintenance and downtime costs are an important cost factor in production. This is evident above all due to the increase in investments in predictive maintenance and condition monitoring systems. However, these systems still have various weaknesses such as the difficult integration and implementation of sensors in already assembled machines. Current existing approaches are either data-driven or rely on sensor data like vibrations, which can only be indirectly traced back to the actually relevant information – i.e. the machine condition and the remaining useful life.
The HCP Sense sensor bearing measures the rolling bearing loads, monitors the lubrication condition and diagnoses bearing damage, thus providing direct access to the relevant information from the machine. This sensor bearing can be integrated into existing machines without great effort and major changes to the design. With the knowledge of bearing loads, the service life calculations for the rolling bearing and surrounding components can be updated, and the estimation of the remaining useful life makes it easier to plan future maintenance demands. Also, the status of the lubrication is critical for rolling bearings, because damage can occur after a short time if there is a lack of lubrication. With timely warnings, operating states can be adjusted and damage can be prevented, or at least the critical state is known and can therefore be planned. Especially in the case of lubrication, countermeasures are often very simple, because the problematic operating condition can be overcome quickly by relubrication or switching to another lubricant. The signal also provides information about the condition of the rolling bearings. Being able to plan maintenance better and being able to prevent damage caused by lubrication offers enormous potential for reducing costs.
The technology is based on measuring the electrical properties of the rolling bearings. In the bearing, a hydrodynamic lubricating film separates each individual rolling contact. Here, the metallic surfaces of the rolling element and raceway face each other and are separated by a dielectric lubricant. Thus, each rolling contact forms a capacitor that depends on the deformation of the surfaces and the thickness of the lubricating film. This allows statements to be made about the bearing load and the lubrication. In addition, damages that affect the surface structure can also be identified from the signal.
There are no directly comparable technologies that combine all the functions of the HCP Sense sensor bearing. For example, traditional force sensors can be used to measure the bearing loads. Due to their standardized interfaces, implementation in designs is often complex and expensive. Other systems for monitoring the bearing loads work with significantly more complex technologies that prevent widespread implementation. There are various systems for monitoring the lubricant that determine chemical or physical parameters of the lubricant in the laboratory or by inline measurement. However, the actual goal of lubrication monitoring is not to provide characteristic values of the lubricant, but to monitor the function of the lubricant, i.e. the separation of the contact partners. This is where the advantage of the HCP Sense sensor bearing lies. The lubricant is monitored in contact instead of measuring parameters that are not recorded in situ. For Monitoring the condition of bearings, the established technology is vibration measurement. In the case of slowly rotating roller bearings, however, the measurement is often not possible and in applications with strong superimposed vibrations from other machines and processes, the measurement of the vibration often does not provide a clear result. The HCP Sense sensor bearing offers a simple and economical way of monitoring forces, the lubricant and the bearing condition.
The use of the sensor bearing from HCP Sense is particularly worthwhile whenever the early detection of roller bearing problems prevents high costs. These applications can be divided in two classes, process monitoring and condition monitoring . If the quality of processes is monitored, e.g. minimum or maximum forces, the process quality can be continuously monitored. When it comes to condition monitoring, the focus is on machines and systems whose downtime leads to immense costs, such as in the chemical industry or the pulp and paper industry. If damage can be detected early or even prevented by monitoring the lubrication, maintenance can be planned more cost-effectively, thus expensive unplanned downtimes can be prevented.
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