Sweden-headquartered global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services SKF, has helped a shipping customer introduce condition monitoring to its vessel, with plans to extend it further across the fleet.

Multilog Online Systems IMx-8 can be installed close to the application being monitored

Multilog Online Systems IMx-8 can be installed close to the application being monitored

Condition monitoring is a vital resource in any industry, as it helps to protect assets from sudden failure. It uses an array of sensors to monitor machinery and detect potential problems at an early stage. One of the most widely used methods is to use vibration monitoring to assess the ‘health’ of the asset.

In this case, serious problems with the bearings on a reduction gearbox had caused extensive damage. With SKF’s help, the customer introduced condition monitoring onto two ships in its fleet for early detection of emerging problems.

Condition monitoring is a good example of a technique that has many hidden layers. Beyond the visible hardware, there is a network of sensors gathering information. The information is collected and then transmitted to a central storage or “cloud”, where it is analysed by SKF condition monitoring experts – any findings are reported with clear recommended actions to the crew. In this case, bearing and gear mesh fault signals from the gearbox and generator were monitored.

One innovative aspect of the project was the use of SKF’s new SKF Multilog.

Online Systems IMx-8 as the ‘gateway’ to the condition monitoring service. The system has been developed as a compliment for the earlier SKF Multilog Online Systems IMx-S, and boasted with a number of improvements.

Firstly, it now has eight channels rather than 16 or 32. This may sound like a retrograde step, but it is actually more suited to this type of application: The Multilog Online Systems IMx-8 can be installed closer to the application being monitored, meaning less cables and simpler installation. It is as well more compact – as it will fit in an existing cabinet rather than one of its own. Furthermore it is rugged for marine use, meeting the stringent environmental requirements set by the classification societies as part of type approval process.

Its compactness makes it ideal for space-restricted applications such as small size thrusters or reduction gearboxes – where instruments for practical reasons often need to be located as close as possible to the monitored machinery to reduce cabling.

SKF Multilog Online Systems IMx-8 boasts a vastly expanded memory of 4GB. This allows it to retain huge amounts of data, which is useful in the event of Ethernet connections being lost to the cloud. Furthermore the system can be powered via an Ethernet cable (PoE), simplifying the installation.

By Jake Frith