Industrial ultrasound advancements up the ante

April 7, 2022
Sheila Kennedy says acoustic technologies propel asset reliability and optimization.

In loud industrial environments, the telltale sounds of current or impending problems are easy to miss. Acoustic technologies help to break through the din to catch even inaudible, ultrasonic sounds. Modern ultrasound solutions facilitate equipment condition monitoring and troubleshooting, optimize re-lubrication practices, convert sounds to intuitive pictures, and protect asset-facing technicians from electrical hazards.

Condition monitoring

Ultrasound technologies bring simplicity and versatility to mechanical condition monitoring. The UltraTrak 850s Smart Analog Sensors from UE Systems passively sense ultrasounds generated by conditions such as friction, impacting, and turbulence, while processing the decibel level into an analog signal to work with existing PLCs, SCADA, DCS, and other automation systems.

“This simple integration to existing automation systems allows users to quickly benefit from multiple applications like bearing health and lubrication monitoring, shut-off valve leakage, steam trap health, and pump cavitation, all in real time with a significant reduction in deployment cost and resources,” explains Blair Fraser, global vice president at UE Systems.

The stand-alone Vigilant data collection pod for online condition monitoring from SDT Ultrasound Solutions provides continuous feedback on asset health via a web browser. Available in Permanent and Mobility configurations, it includes eight channels for ultrasound and vibration sensors and four for temperature, tach, and pressure.

Vigilant provides the ability to “empower stakeholders by monitoring their assets using two of the most useful technologies: ultrasound and vibration,” says Alex Nino, senior applications engineer at Ludeca, SDT’s U.S. distributor. “Having an online ultrasound monitoring system provides the ability to measure, monitor, analyze, and report on slow-speed equipment, check out lubrication conditions, and much more.”

Acoustic ultrasound sensors and software from CTRL Systems, such as the UL101 Leak Detector and InCTRL data management platform, help to quickly find turbulent flow leaks such as compressed air, gas, and vacuum leaks. The CTRL PowerBeam 300 parabolic accessory improves the sensitivity of the UL101 by allowing areas to be scanned from up to 300 feet away to pinpoint the sources of ultrasound within one degree from center.

About the Author: Sheila Kennedy

Precision maintenance

Because re-lubrication accuracy is essential for optimal bearing performance, the Ultrasound Lubrication Checker TLGU 10 from SKF helps technicians to avoid over- or under-lubrication problems. Delivering the correct amount of lubricant to a bearing at the right time makes re-lubrication a more practical, condition-based process, says John Melanson, vice president of application engineering at SKF North America.

The TLGU 10 is designed for simplicity, he explains. “Connect the TLGU 10 to a grease gun. Then, while delivering the grease, you can both hear the noise changing as the grease is applied to the application, and see the color display showing real-time repeatable, accurate, digital measurements that guide the user to the right conclusion,” Melanson says.

Acoustic visualization

Acoustic imagers visualize sounds. The SV600 industrial fixed acoustic imaging solution from Fluke Process Instruments converts unseen and unheard issues, such as compressed air or gas leaks or mechanical sound signature changes, into visual representations, allowing customers to quickly pinpoint and quantify problem areas before they create costly problems.

SV600 Product Manager Simon Powell says the solution “can be integrated into a factory network to monitor critical assets or production processes in real time, or ride on an autonomous robot or drone to automate leak detection around the plant and operate in areas that would be unsafe for maintenance teams to work.”

The handheld SONASCREEN acoustic camera from SONOTEC US is a broadband ultrasound detection solution. It uses beadforming to determine the position of sources in wave fields, such as ultrasound fields, and detects the sources of sound waves in the audible and ultrasonic range.

“The SONASCREEN has both acoustic imaging and audio feedback via the headphones, which together allow for quick and efficient detection of leaks and partial discharges. It also has the benefit of using sealed MEMS microphones, which contribute to the IP54 rating and enable the user to operate the device indoors and outdoors without worry,” observes Brian Kavanagh, product manager at SONOTEC US.

Ultrasound ports such as the rugged XUP series from Exiscan facilitate compliance with electrical safety mandates from organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). With a window providing a direct line of sight to ultrasonic waves, the panels and doors can remain safely closed while energized electrical equipment undergo ultrasound inspections.

This story originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

Technology Toolbox

This article is part of our monthly Technology Toolbox column. Read more from Sheila Kennedy.

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, 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 [email protected] or

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