Schaeffler is introducing bearing with sensors integrated into the ring-shaped housing. The sensors give operators the ability to monitor equipment in variety of ways: Temperature, speed, vibration, and displacement. While the bearings are more costly than traditional ones, they make up cost in extending machine lifetime as well as uptime. Operators can monitor machine health and trends that a unit may be failing. There are many ways these sensors can be useful in increasing productivity and safety in a manufacturing environment.
It’s not uncommon for some bearings to spin thousands of revolutions per minute, twenty hours per day. A single bearing can also be the difference in an operational production line and a COO’s worst nightmare. Every minute a production line is off during operational hours can cost companies thousands. Now imagine the same bearing that failed the production line was a sensor bearing that measured heat and vibration. A responsible operator noticed bearing 34D had been steadily increasing its vibration signal and temperature for the past week. The operator replaced this bearing during downtime and production continued as scheduled. That is the ideal situation in which a sensor bearing is made for, and the extra cost was easily recouped by eliminating down time.
VarioSense bearings come in a wide range of size and voltage. Temperature sensor bearing can handle temperatures below freezing, above 100 degrees celcius, and speeds up to 17,000 RPM. Aside from passively monitoring, they can also be used as controlling drives, such as limiting the amount of torque on a driveshaft. Feedback loops are extremely valuable to operators around dangerous equipment. A turbine fan in a storm may reach it’s maximum number of RPM’s and fail. A sensor bearing would apply the emergency brakes saving the turbine from destruction and possibly the lives of operators as well.