By Mike Santora || IoT and predictive maintenance remain critical areas of focus and innovation for the bearing industry in 2020 — as do advances in lubrication and material science. To get a better understanding of these technologies and what developments to expect, we asked some of top bearing industry experts for their take on what’s new and what’s coming from their companies in 2020.
Rotary bearings with IoT functionality and predictive maintenance
The widespread adoption of condition monitoring technologies such as vibration analysis is a testament to the early adopters who pioneered their use within the industry. These technologies transformed the way we think about maintenance by providing users the ability to determine the health of an asset without interfering with its operation.
The industrial internet of things (IIoT), coupled with declining sensor costs, has further accelerated the use of these technologies and enabled remote monitoring of real-time data, automated analysis, and instantaneous alerts.
“One challenge that we see frequently is customers becoming disenfranchised with the technology because it wasn’t applied correctly to the asset and, as a result, does not provide advanced warning of faults or degradation. One-size solutions do not fit every application for the end customer. Our Perceptive Technologies teams provide a more holistic approach, including on-site and remote services for condition monitoring, diagnostics, and other hands-on services to improve a facility’s bottom line,” says Dan Phillips, director of technology monitoring and diagnostics for Regal Beloit.
Regal Beloit has also just launched a new mobile app (Regal PT Mobile App) on iOS to allow customers to register bearing products and schedule maintenance, with access to maintenance instructions and guides to help them in the application of the bearings.
At Fersa, the MOSS Bearing system incorporates sensors to measure variables such as temperature, vibration, humidity, loads or speed, and others.
“Automakers are still a bit reluctant to use the bearing as a sensor, but we see opportunities in the industrial market for sensoring and mechatronics … from the agricultural business to mechanical drives for the wind industry,” says Sergio Santo Domingo, R&D director at Fersa Bearings.
The electric future will affect bearing requirements, as an electric vehicle has up to 90% fewer moving parts compared to combustion-engine cars. The mechanics are simplified, which implies a change in the way of working. Energy efficiency and reduction of fuel consumption are aspects increasingly demanded by users and manufacturers. Fersa expects to see increasingly efficient bearings in the short term, which may even be different from the standard versions of the product in terms of dimensions and assembly.
Lubrication advances for rotary bearings
The full evaluation of a lubricant in pre-greased and sealed radial deep groove ball bearings represents — besides the topic of bearing clearance — one of the most underestimated issues in the use of rolling element bearings. On the one hand, design engineers must assess the best possible lubrication to minimize friction and metallic contact under realistic operating conditions. On the other hand, any lubricant is subject to aging during operation, depending on the actual operating conditions.
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