As if by magic, measurements appear

Bearings form the mainstay of many technologies, with the humble roller bearing playing an important role

Problem: – making sure that the wheels of industry turn smoothly.
As with many components, bearings work best when they are looked after, indeed, a properly serviced bearing can last a lifetime with the judicious application of the right lubricant, at the right time and with operation in the right conditions.
Unfortunately, regular maintenance and monitoring is not always that easy with many remote applications. And some, such as wind turbines, rely on the efficiencies and optimal functionality of even the most basic components to work to the best of their power-generation abilities.

Solution: Recognising that wind farms and their associated turbines are starting to play an ever increasing role in power generation, SKF has developed a novel new concept which will allow engineers to get a much clearer picture of what is going on inside their bearings.
The Magic Roller, as it has been christened by the company, is a concept which allows measurements to be collected from special bearings within a power transmission system. In a nutshell, one roller element per bearing row has an instrument embedded in its core which is used to measure the roller load.
The roller communicates the roller load continuously through radio signals, along with a trigsignal once per revolution.
A transmitter is mounted on each Magic Roller, protruding from the envelope of the bearing, and powered by a circular coil mounted on each side of the bearing next to the outer ring. The output signal is an analogue ±5V signal and the trigger signals are TTL compatible pulses.
Logging equipment can also be provided which will record load signal readings for analysis by an SKF expert, allowing radial and axial load and thus a true load zone to be calculated.
The patented technology is currently in development form and is currently being fine tuned by engineers at the company.

Applications: Although developed primarily for a specific target market, the abundance of bearings in other engineering applications means that this measurement system could potentially see much wider use. Its size may prohibit its use, in its current guise, in space critical applications, but as with most technology a certain degree of miniaturisation could be envisaged for the future.
One area which could see future benefit is in R&D, in sectors such as automotive and aerospace, where bearing functionality is of crucial importance to both optimum and efficient operation.MF


Tom Shelley

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