SKF Insight: wireless bearing condition monitoring technology

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SKF Insight: wireless bearing condition monitoring technologySKF is launching SKF Insight, which the company describes as a groundbreaking innovation in intelligent wireless condition monitoring technology that is integrated into its bearings. SKF developments in various smart technologies now enable bearings to communicate their operating conditions continuously, with internally powered sensors and data-acquisition electronics. Bearings have long been considered the heart of rotating machinery; now SKF says it is making them the brain as well.

Tom Johnstone, SKF President and CEO, says: "These innovations are set to revolutionise condition monitoring for bearings, especially in critical machinery and technically challenging applications. SKF Insight technology will make condition monitoring more widely available, especially in applications where it was previously impossible or impractical. With our integrated diagnostic technology, our customers can get even better control over the life cycle of their machinery, leading to lower total costs with higher reliability and machinery uptime."

SKF Senior Vice President of Group Technology Development, Alan Begg, adds: "Three years ago we had a vision to create an integrated, self-powered sensor package that could wirelessly communicate the condition of a bearing at any time – making a smart bearing capable of sending a message when something happens to it. Following extensive R&D work, including miniaturisation, solving power generation challenges and developing unique packaging of sensors and electronics, the introduction of SKF Insight technology makes this a reality. Making the bearing the brain, as well as the heart, of rotating machinery has long been a dream of the engineering community, and I am proud that SKF, with our long tradition of innovation leadership, is the first to make this happen."

Prior to SKF Insight, condition monitoring techniques could only monitor damage after it had occurred. Now, by sensing directly on the bearing, SKF is able to monitor the damage from the first microscopic effect as it is happening and, with this information, users can take remedial action to reduce the reason for damage in the bearing – such as adding lubricant or mitigating transient overloads.

Measuring the load

In addition, by monitoring the load directly on the bearing, SKF Insight makes it possible to measure the load the bearing actually experiences, rather than what is was designed for. This valuable information can be routed back into the design phase to improve both the system and bearing design.

With SKF Insight technology integrated into bearings, it is simpler and more convenient for customers to perform condition-monitoring. Better operational knowledge, better maintenance planning, optimised manpower and spare part management will lead to lower cost of operations.

SKF Insight technology includes:

  • Miniaturisation – Packaging of sensor technologies enables measurement of critical parameters such as speed (RPM), temperature, vibration, load and other features
  • Self-powered – Using the application environment itself, smart bearings generate their own power needed to operate
  • Simplicity – Intelligent wireless communication technology packaged inside the bearing enables it to communicate within environments where traditional WiFi cannot operate
  • Smart networks – Communicating through each other and via a wireless gateway, bearings with SKF Insight form a mesh network and can send information relevant to their condition for analysis

SKF Insight application-specific systems are under trial with key customers in industries including wind energy, railways and metals, and SKF is actively developing more application trials in other industries.

Contact SKF for more information about Insight intelligent wireless condition monitoring technology.

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