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FAG vibration monitoring saves big money in bearing replacement

article image The Sunstate tube mill on which FAG SmartCheck was installed

A vibration monitoring technology from Schaeffler Australia is helping a leading cement manufacturer enhance mill reliability and improve production by predicting and avoiding costly breakdowns and maintenance shutdowns.

The compact, robust and easily installed FAG SmartCheck online measuring system from Schaeffler Australia Pty Ltd was deployed by Sunstate Cement Ltd in a short-term condition monitoring initiative on a tube mill that ultimately avoided the need to replace a trunnion end drive bearing costing more than $300,000.

The use of SmartCheck monitoring technology along with its complementary sophisticated FAG ProCheck monitoring technology has facilitated ongoing optimum reliability of tube mills used by Sunstate, one of Australia’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of high quality cement products to commercial businesses throughout Queensland and Northern New South Wales. With a capacity to produce over 1.5 million tonnes of cement per year, Sunstate has been a major contributor to Queensland’s largest and most impressive infrastructure projects for over 25 years.

Sunshine State’s three tube mills have a production capacity of 60-100 t/h of products such as fly ash blend and GP cement, with the production safeguarded against disruption by FAG condition monitoring.

Similar reliability gains and avoidance of breakdowns as achieved by Sunstate are available for a wide variety of mineral processing and production machinery used in industries such as mining, energy, oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, food and beverage machinery processing, metalworking, materials handling, conveying, primary processing material, including paper, sugar, dairy and meat processing machinery and conveyors, process engineering, steel, water and waste water.

FAG vibration monitoring technology deployed by Sunshine State includes the innovative, modular online SmartCheck measuring system for continuous monitoring on a decentralised basis to optimise productivity and overall process management. SmartCheck can be used on assemblies where such monitoring was previously cost prohibitive, while ProCheck provides a longer-term and more comprehensive solution, says Schaeffler Australia Pty Ltd Industrial Sector and Product Manager Mr Martin Grosvenor.

Challenge for Schaeffler

Following a visual inspection of Tube Mill No 1 trunnion drive end bearing, Sunstate found the bearing was in a reasonable condition after 28 years of service and decided to extend its service life by rotating the outer ring by 180°, which is a common practice for this type of application. After this rotation, Schaeffler technicians were asked to provide condition monitoring of the bearing, in order to provide Sunstate with the assurance the bearing was fit for purpose.

Schaeffler solution

Schaeffler recommended a temporary solution, consisting of two FAG SmartCheck online systems (one axial and one radial) and a remote wireless network system for communication monitoring and diagnostics from the Schaeffler Online Centre in Sydney.

Operating parameters monitored via high-resolution piezo sensors and the remote wireless network system included bearing temperature, bearing vibration, fixed speed and bearing components.

Diagnostic methods included time signal, envelope curve, speed and frequency monitoring, and spectrum and trend analysis.

The FAG SmartCheck units were configured to suit slow-speed bearings and set up to collect data only when the mill was operating, ensuring only relevant data was retained. This temporary solution proposed by Schaeffler was accepted by the customer for a period of one month. After this period, a machine condition report was provided by Schaeffler technicians confirming the trunnion bearing was fit for service.

By implementing the temporary FAG SmartCheck solution, Schaeffler was able to supply a cost-effective monitoring system promptly to assess the condition of the trunnion drive end bearing for continued service.

Subsequently, Schaeffler condition monitoring technicians further analysed the data and made recommendations to the customer for continuation of service for the trunnion bearing. Sunstate Cement benefitted from the assurance that the bearing was suited for further operation, which meant they could avoid a considerably more cost-intensive exchange.

The cost of a new trunnion drive end bearing exceeded $A150,000 while average downtime cost about $A2,250-$A5,000 an hour. The average downtime for a bearing replacement was 3-5 days, a minimum of 72 hours. Cost savings for every avoided bearing replacement therefore, exceeded $A300,000.

In the same plant, two of the three mills operating were already equipped with FAG ProCheck technology with remote monitoring service. The customer subsequently equipped its third mill with a permanent FAG ProCheck monitoring system to effectively continue monitoring the remaining life of its bearing with Schaeffler online monitoring services.

According to Mr Grosvenor, they could provide a short-term cost-efficient monitoring solution with FAG SmartCheck before the final use of FAG ProCheck. The project proves how Schaeffler adds value to the customer by combining flexible solutions and initiatives with the right products and through the involvement of their service team that makes the effort to understand the unique needs of individual plants.

Mr Grosvenor says FAG SmartCheck demonstrates that vibration monitoring does not have to be complicated or expensive. As a flexible solution, FAG SmartCheck technology adjusts readily to user demands and reliably fulfils even complex requirements. Compact in design, easy to fit and simple to use, the technology delivers the performance features of expensive systems. Being modular in design, the system can be expanded at any time; retrofitting can also be carried out when requirements change.

Backed by comprehensive service throughout Australia and New Zealand, the intuitively operated and expandable SmartCheck technology is suitable for early detection of rolling bearing damage, imbalances, and misalignments, among other faults, on diverse machinery and plant.

The FAG SmartCheck technology can be applied to different types of machines including electric and geared motors, gearboxes and compressors, vacuum and fluid pumps, ventilators and fans, spindles and machine tools, separators and decanters and vibrating screens.

Key features and benefits of FAG SmartCheck include comprehensive information provided on machine condition, factoring in process parameters such as load, pressure and flow rate; condition of machinery shown at a glance in FAG SmartWeb; information available on long term development of machine condition by means of the integrated data memory; connection to control room or controller by means of interfaces; direct system access via Ethernet and web interface; protected data by means of a multistage access concept; free app for smartphones; and complete service for rolling bearings and machinery diagnostics.

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