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Ultrasound

Often when we speak of ultrasound in industrial environments, we have in mind the classic application of ultrasound as a means of detecting cracks and internal cavities in materials, usually metal.

 

But in this case, we refer to an altogether different application, which is the study of air-borne ultrasound as a tool of predictive and proactive maintenance.

 

ultrasonidos_1What is It?

There are certain physical processes that generate sounds at very high frequencies, inaudible to the human ear. They are what we call ultrasound. If we were able to hear these sounds, we would obtain valuable information about the status of our machines and facilities. Everyone remembers the classic image of the mechanic supporting his ear on the handle of a screwdriver, and the screwdriver itself placed on the machine casing. In this way he tries to "hear" what happens inside the gearbox, motor or the bearing.

Well, this is exactly what we do with our ultrasound analysis equipment; listen to what the ear cannot and "translate" it to audible frequencies, and further, measure that source of ultrasound and even obtain a spectrum that we can give us valuable information for mechanical inspections.

With ultrasound analysis equipment, we can therefore:

  • Listen to what the ear does not hear, and distinguish failure modes depending on the type of noise.
  • Measure the amplitude of the sound, and establish periodic trends that allow us to anticipate failure when the levels increase.
  • Determine the exact frecuency that the ultrasounds are occurring, obtaining (as we did with the vibration analysis) an ultrasonic spectrum. That then becomes the vibration spectrum for much higher frequencies (ultrasound being ultimately no less a form of vibration).

Applications

Within the use of Ultrasound as a tool of predictive or proactive maintenance, we indicate three principal activities:

 

  • Mechanical inspections. 

Allows for  quick and easy detection of problems caused by defects in bearings, and  to evaluate quality.

Inspection of low speed bearings.

Particularly useful for the detection and diagnosis of faults in gears, gear boxes and boxes and other high-frequency problems.

To complement the activity of lubrication, we can listen to the bearing when the lubricant has reached the bearing,  and can stop introducing it , avoiding failure and excess lubricant.

 

  • Electrical Inspections 

Complementing thermography for detection of certain electrical effects that emit high frequency sound, arc discharge and corona (undetectable by thermography thus generates no heat).

ultrasonidos_2Transformer inspections

High-voltage Towers and other installations

  • Leak Detection 

Long-distance detection (up to 20 m or more) of

leakage of any gas or compressed air, in installations or under vacuum pressure.

 

Localizing micro-leaks.

Valve inspections.

Steam traps, condensators

 

Inspection of heat exchangers and boilers

 

Underground leaks or behind walls

 
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