Update - Where ultrasound fits into condition monitoring

I spent this week at the UE Systems (www.uesystems.com) Ultrasound World VIII Conference and came away reminded of what a cost-effective and user-friendly tool modern ultrasound is. With moderate training and little or no fixturing an ultrasound operator can check dozens of points in a shift and identify those needing repair or closer scrutiny. There is something natural about spotting the foreign sound of a failing component against the normal noise of healthy equipment. It may call on the same instincts that alert a parent when the kids' tussling starts to get a little too heated. This tool has a human interface with exciting technical and financial potential. Charles Strawn, a reliability technician from International Paper, told us about cutting the time for vibration measurement and analysis in half by replacing it with ultrasound for routine applications. (Some complex, high-cost equipment still requires vibration analysis.) Charles spends the resulting free time doubling the amount of equipment he is able to monitor. Another reliability technician, Dave Zweigenbaum from General Mills, told the conference about teaming ultrasound with infrared thermography to track down and eliminate failing components in large groups of similar equipment. The week confirmed that ultrasound can be a solid choice for any team that wants to monitor a large fleet of rotating or other moving equipment. A modest investment in tools and training should pay off hansomely while paving the way for an aggressive condition monitoring program.