The technology allows the bearings to communicate their operating conditions continuously, using an integrated, self-powered package containing sensors and data acquisition electronics. The technology can sense RPM, temperature, velocity, vibration, load and other features.

“These innovations are set to revolutionise condition monitoring for bearings, especially in critical machinery and technically challenging applications,” said Tom Johnstone, SKF president and CEO. 

The technology has taken three years to develop following extensive R&D work. Previously, condition monitoring techniques could only monitor damage after it has occurred. Now, SKF says that it can monitor bearing damage from the first microscopic effect as it is happening, and with this information, customers can take remedial action to reduce the reason for damage in the bearing – adding lubricant, mitigating transient overloads, etc.

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.

The bearings can communicate through each other and via a wireless gateway, forming a “mesh network.' SKF Insight is currently under trial with key customers in industries, including wind energy, railways and metals, and SKF is developing more application trials in other industries.

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