Monitoring equipment using acoustic emission works on the principle of using transient elastic waves to detect the rapid release of strain energy caused by deformations or damage within the surface of materials. Strains, stresses and impacts produce transient stress (elastic) waves which can be effectively detected and occur in the very early stages of bearing degradation.

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What are the advantages of condition monitoring?

Using appropriate condition monitoring tools matters because damage to bearings can result in undue downtime, wasted time, money and resources.

When to use a bearing tester instrument?

The handheld Portamonitor® can be used for pre-service bearing condition testing as well as in-service testing and condition monitoring.

Benefits of Portamonitor® condition monitoring report Options

The Portamonitor® has two units of measurement for bearing health: decibel and Distress®. Distress® provides an instant indication of the health of the bearings. It measures impacts, friction and surface deformation caused by micro-pitting and fractures. Algorithms inside the Portamonitor® sort this data for comparison against acceptable limits categorised by a number.

Utilising acoustic emission condition monitoring, the Portamonitor® operates precisely how the user expects and wants – indicating the current state and progressive condition of bearings in two simple and easy to understand values:

a. Distress Level – Current state: ‘OK’ ‘SUSPECT’ ‘POOR’ (inc. numerical equivalent).

b. Decibel Level – Trend (Ability to track degradation over time).
Display on the bearing checking instrument

The display on the Portamonitor® will show a numeric value indicating the level of distress, for instance: 5-10 indicates the system in “OK”. Between the value of 10-15 indicates the system is “SUSPECT”, and requires further monitoring, whereas >15 indicates a “POOR” system and requires attention.

How does bearing monitoring save cost and time?

The Portamonitor® is a low cost and is very easy to use bearing servicing tool and easy to integrate into scheduled maintenance. Using this regularly extends the lifetime of key pumps, bearings and gearboxes saving significant amounts of money over the lifetime of the vessel, extending the time between machinery replacement and ensuring failures do not occur at critical times. The Portamonitor® offers faster processing time at sensor level, thus reducing overall maintenance time.

Why buy a bearing checker?

Almost all machinery that moves requires bearings for its rotating equipment. Degradation of the bearing happens over time. Condition based monitoring is important as bearings will fail for a number of reasons but the key take away is that ALL bearings will degrade at some point and if they are left unchecked, maintained or replaced WILL fail. A key failure comes from a lack of bearing lubricant. Using bearing monitoring equipment to understand the root cause of damage can help prevent future failures. According to ISO 15243, damage to rotating machinery left undiagnosed can actually mask the underlying cause if left too long.

Do bearings need lubrication?

Most decay in bearing quality occur when lubrication has been used up in the bearing. Identifying machinery health and refilling the oil in the bearing a key way of extending life span. The Portamonitor® is the ideal tool for lubricant analysis condition monitoring. The Portamonitor® is a preventative bearing maintenance tool, a proven technology that can help users identify the onset of catastrophic failure and take planned action to prevent failure of machinery.

What types of bearings are commonly measured by the Portamonitor®?

Using acoustic bearing monitoring, condition and lubrication state of all rolling element bearings, examples such as: ball bearings, needle bearing & roller bearings can be found.

The Portamonitor® also tests all hydrostatic and hydrodynamic bearings, examples such as: plain bearing (journal bearing, linear bearing, thrust bearing) & trankpin bearing.

What bearing rotation speeds can be measured by the Portamonitor®?

As low as 45 rpm to as high as 8,000 rpm.

Why use acoustic emission monitoring instead of vibration analysis?

Acoustic emission testing is very effective at detecting deformation due to formation of cracks or friction which occur in the very early stages, independent of machine dynamics. These defects give off an acoustic emission pulse well before they can be detected by vibrational analysis. Unlike Vibrational Analysis, the Portamonitor® is not influenced by the natural frequency of the machinery. Using acoustic emission monitoring, there is no need to remove the bearing for testing.

What types of bearing failure are covered by the Portamonitor®?

Excessive load – bearing damage and housing causing premature fatigue/failure

Overheating – excessive temperatures can anneal the ring and bearing material, reducing hardness causing early failure.

Beating Lubrication levels and contamination – causes friction contacts and mechanical impacts, respectively.

Crack formation – early stages of wear as a result of impacts or excessive loading can cause deformation and will evolve to failure.

Where are bearings found?

Steel production facilities

  • Steel and iron use cold rolling mill machinery. The working rolls of the plant are the most extensively monitored. This is quite a challenging bearing monitoring environment due to high temperatures, high and low-speed operation, as well as high contamination of water and debris


Mining industry

  • Slow turning rolling element bearings require monitoring in this industry. Machinery such as crushers, stackers, conveyors, vibrating feeders, magnetic separators, slurry and vacuum pumps, classifiers, agitators and compressors.

Paper processing industry

  • Paper making machine bearings operate under very high temperatures and can be vulnerable to fractures of the inner ring, causing stoppages in production. Monitoring is done to determine the condition of the rolling-element bearings of the rolls, roll alignment, balance, and the condition of the electric motors and gearboxes.

Cement industry

  • Many machines in this industry require monitoring of bearing condition, including crushers, mills, separators, roller presses, separators, conveyors, feeders, air compressors and fans. Most of which use rolling-element bearings powered by electric motors.

Thermal power industry

  • Gas and steam turbine generators and combined cycle plants require their most critical machines monitored. Dynamic rotating machines use high-speed rotating parts. The cost of failure in this industry is far-reaching.

Maritime industry

  • Diesel engines, gas turbines and nuclear reactor powered ships utilise bearings in all areas, from crankshafts to pistons and pumps. Also, gearboxes fans and other motors onboard, such as alternators used to generate electricity.

When using the Portamonitor® for bearing maintenance, is it affected by environmental conditions?

The Portamonitor is not affected by environmental conditions which can mask late-onset bearing damage when analysing vibration data. Elastic waves that are produced by fractures or debris inside bearing systems produce various frequencies – all of which are analysed automatically inside the Portamonitor and converted to an easy to understand value allowing first-time users the ability to conduct advanced maintenance.

Equipment Inspection Procedure

The Portamonitor® bearing condition tester is incredibly easy to use.

1. Simply turn the unit on
2. Apply ultrasonic couplant to the sensor and surface you are testing
3. Press the search button and place on bearing for 10 seconds
4. Results will then show

A demonstration video of how to measure machine health can be found here: