Industrial Motors / Machinery Lubrication / Ultrasound / Vibration Analysis / Infrared Thermography

Power transmission equipment needs PdM, too

Sheila Kennedy says vibration measurement, ultrasonics, and fluid analysis keep motors running.

By Sheila Kennedy

The reliability and efficiency of motors and drives is paramount in industrial applications. Predictive maintenance (PdM) tools allow the detection and correction of deteriorating conditions in assets such as these, before they can lead to failure. New opportunities in vibration, ultrasonics, and fluid data collection and analysis are available.

Vibration monitoring and analysis

Vibration analysis is a prominent condition-based maintenance strategy for motors and drives. Azima DLI recently introduced its TRIO CA8/CX8 and CA10/CX10 vibration data collectors and machine condition analyzers. The 8 series features portable, lightweight, tablet-style devices, while the extremely rugged 10 series has been given an IP-65 environmental rating.

“TRIO data collectors were designed from the ground up into a modular system, separating the tablet controller from the acquisition device and sensor to increase safety for the operators in the field,” says Steven Hudson, senior analyst, Azima DLI. “TRIO's Bluetooth connection creates the safest working environment and the Expert Automated Diagnostic System delivers solutions to plant managers and decision makers.”

Emerson Process Management’s latest vibration analyzer, the CSI 2140 Machinery Health Analyzer, is designed for comfortable, single-hand operation and rapid data collection, and its touchscreen brightness automatically adjusts to the lighting conditions.

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“The CSI 2140 with four channels is great for modal and ODS analysis,” says Jim Crowe, independent vibration analyst at Jim Crowe Vibration Technologies. “Using the triaxial accelerometer, I can take a horizontal, vertical, and axial reading on every measurement point with a reference all at once. If I’m using a modal hammer, I hit the housing just four times, and I get all three readings instantly.”

The new Bearing Fault Detector PLUS from IMI Sensors is a combination 4-20 mA sensor and vibration transmitter designed to monitor rolling element bearings and signal the plant monitoring and control systems when faults are detected.

“The rolling element impact detection allows maintenance technicians to reduce downtime by detecting bearing wear in its early stages,” says Stephen Arlington, application engineer for IMI Sensors. “They can standardize all control alarms across their various machines’ speeds and sizes, thanks to our normalized output feature. Even variable-speed machinery can be monitored for bearing wear using the Crest Factor + as an output option.”

Ultrasonic testing and measurement

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at

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Ultrasound is a versatile PdM technology. The SDT 270DU data collector from SDT Ultrasound Solutions is useful for inspecting electrical systems, predicting lubrication cycles for rolling element bearings, analyzing gearboxes and other slow-speed rotating assets, and several other applications. Dynamic and static data is measured and viewable on the device, and it can be transferred to SDT’s UAS software for trending, alarming, reporting, and action.

“SDT provides ultrasound solutions that give our customers a greater understanding about the health of the factory,” says Allan Rienstra, general manager of SDT Ultrasound Solutions. “We help them predict failures, control energy costs, and improve product quality while contributing to the overall uptime of their assets.”

UE Systems offers an ultrasound-assisted lubrication condition assessment device that signals when bearings are sufficiently lubricated as the grease is being applied. The Ultraprobe 201 Grease Caddy provides a simultaneously audible and visible drop in amplitude as a warning when over-lubrication is near.

"Ultrasound-assisted lubrication can play a critical role in maximizing the life of an electric motor,” says Adrian Messer, manager of U.S. operations for UE Systems. “Utilizing UE Systems’ Ultraprobe 201 Grease Caddy allows the user to apply the right amount of lubrication, which leads to bearing failure mitigation.”

Fluid analysis and management

“Gearboxes should be closely monitored for dirt and water contamination,” says Henry Neicamp, field services manager for Polaris Laboratories, a full-service fluid analysis laboratory. “Particle quantifier (PQ) provides an index number of ferrous particles. PQ reports a quantitative value which indicates the amount of ferrous wear occurring.” Polaris Laboratories prefers to run the PQ test as opposed to direct read (DR) ferrography, because the PQ’s test results are more consistent and repeatable, and the PQ is a less expensive test to run than the DR.

Horizon is free Web-based software from Polaris Laboratories used to view and interpret fluid analysis data. It delivers test results, maintenance recommendations, and special notifications, and it can interface with asset management systems. The latest release, Horizon 4.2, saves time and improves accuracy by allowing users to add new components to their reports and update multiple components at once.

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.