Bearing Inspection – Automation

By June 18, 2021November 8th, 2021Machine Vision Blogs
Automated Bearing Inspection- Vision Systems | Qualitas Technologies

Introduction

The term “bearing” is derived from the combination of the two words “to bear”, reflecting this component’s ability to bear loads.  A bearing is a common machine element used to regulate relative motion and reduce the friction between moving parts. Metal-on-metal contact results in a large amount of friction, and therefore, by allowing two surfaces to roll over one another, bearings reduce the amount of friction produced and guard the metal’s quality. 

The boom in the automotive sector has provided an impetus to the bearing manufacturing industry, presenting us with a vast range of options. For instance, a roller bearing is one type that contains rolling elements like balls or rollers in circular races, making them effective at bearing radial loads. Another kind of bearing called the tapered bearings has rings and rollers tapered in the shape of truncated cones allowing them to support radial and axial loads simultaneously. Ultimately, the aptness of a kind of bearing differs with varying application demands.

Related ArticleQuality Inspection of Bearing Balls

Types of Bearing Defects

Since the significance of bearing is naturally justified, bearing manufacturing has always been the subject of continuous improvements and extensive research. However, despite the careful design, bearing manufacturing and testing, bearing defects or even bearing failure is probable. The principal causes of bearing defects and premature bearing failure are overloading, improper lubrication, contamination, and improper handling and installation.

Let’s go through some of the common types of bearing defects.

  • Pitting & Contaminants

Pitting is the result of foreign materials like metal particles and dirt entering into the bearing. Improperly cleaned housings are a primary source of these particles. Even light pitting can result in bearing failure, and thus, the lightly damaged components must be addressed evaluated with caution. 

  • Wear

Wear is commonly observed on the rolling surfaces of cylindrical rollers and races. Such damage is majorly the effect of lubrication failure and might also occur due to the slippage of rolling elements towards bearing rings. 

  • Corrosion

Corrosion is the consequence of inadequate protection against atmospheric moisture. The sites of rust formation can also gradually become the initial sites of flaking, resulting in reduced bearing durability. Vibrations of loose components cause frictional corrosion. The rubbing ultimately results in surface oxidation and results in early wear and fatigue.

  • Grooving

Hard contaminants can often enter the bearing assembly, get wedged in the cage and cut grooves in the rollers. This bearing defect is known as grooving. The damage that occurs due to this bearing defect is irreversible and might lead to premature bearing failure.

  • Cage damage

The roller bearing cage is under little stress in normal operating conditions. The problem begins with poor lubrication. If the lubrication provided is inadequate, cage wear starts occurring on the surfaces which are in contact with the rolling elements.

Bearing failures increase downtime, drive up the operational costs, shorten the service life, lower the plant’s operational efficiency, and in the worst of cases, can injure your employees. Unprecedented bearing failures might also force companies to incur the costs associated with replacing or repairing the bearing and adjacent components, which might have also sustained damage. To minimize such occurrences, deliberate planning and timely maintenance are necessary.

Related ArticleSurface Inspection Of Bearing Cages- Use Case

How is Visual Bearing Inspection Performed?

Needless to say, bearings are components of pivotal significance in a large number of industries. It has come on the shoulders of bearing manufacturing companies to provide quality components to the expanding bearing markets. To ensure compliance with the set standards of bearings and discard any defective bearings, a proper bearing inspection procedure is crucial. Some of the features that you should look out for are mentioned below:

  • Cracks, that might occur due to heat treatment, grinding, stress, forging, etc.
  • Pitting, oxidized surfaces, and rust
  • Mechanical scars, like abrasion, scratches, hit marks, etc.
  • Material that might be peeling off
  • Welding quality or bearing cage riveting

Diligent inspection of the features mentioned above will help you eliminate the majority of defective bearings.

Automating Bearing Inspection with Vision Systems

The small size and the nature of defects make manual bearing inspection quite tedious when a large volume of components is to be inspected. The manual inspection also means more workforce, lower productivity and more errors. These issues negatively impact the bearing inspection procedure’s effectiveness, and thus the need for automation arises.

Let’s consider the inspection of taper rollers. Bearing rollers are the most critical components in a bearing and determine the bearing’s life, performance, and stability. We have developed an automated roller inspection system that is capable of inspecting around 200 parts per minute. Since the rollers go through various stages, defects can come up at any stage of the bearing manufacturing process. The taper roller inspection system can detect a multitude of defects such as outer diameter scratches and cracks, rust, spiral marks, crack on the chamfer, and several others.

Related ArticleAutomated Bearing Inspection- Needle Bearings- Use Case

Conclusion

With the bearing industry blooming, the demand for high-accuracy and efficient inspection procedures is on the rise. Machine vision systems can help bearing manufacturing companies achieve higher net throughput, reduce costs, lower downtime, and gain a competitive edge.

In this blog post, we discussed the fundamentals of bearings, the common types of bearing defects and their consequences. We also covered the basics of visual inspection and understood how machine vision systems can help companies meet the rising demand for quality bearings.

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