blog catalog
May 10, 2023
What Is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is most commonly known as a form of acoustic medical imaging technology that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to generate images of the inside of the body. Although this is its most common use, ultrasound’s achievements don’t stop just in the medical industry. The technology is also having a lot of success in another industry: maintenance and reliability.

Ultrasound is used in maintenance monitoring, specifically for condition-based monitoring (CBM) or predictive maintenance in industrial settings. Ultrasound can be utilized as a non-destructive testing (NDT) method to detect and diagnose potential faults, anomalies, or abnormalities in mechanical and electrical equipment. Ultrasound essentially acts as a stethoscope listening to changes in frequencies, and when paired with the right software can detect and trend patterns. Ultrasound monitoring can provide early warning signs of impending failures, allowing for timely maintenance interventions to prevent unexpected breakdowns and minimize downtime.

LubeMatrix and Ultrasound

Industrial Matrix has strategically chosen ultrasound as the technology of choice for our cutting edge condition based lubrication system: LubeMatrix. The perfect amount of lube is not only essential to an efficient and healthy bearing, but also quite hard to achieve. Over Lubrication causes the drag coefficient to rise, as well as pressure and heat inside the bearing, potentially causing a seal failure. Under lubrication has obvious deficiencies as well like increased friction, corrosion, increased temperature, and costly reapers. So how do you know for sure if you are lubricating the right amount? Industrial Matrix has developed a condition based lubrication system using ultrasound and an auto lubricator that’s able to dispense the right about based on bearing condition. The ultrasound listens to the bearing and determines the lowest drag coefficient and lubricates it to that level. As soon as that coefficient raises above a certain threshold, the auto lubricator fires a set amount of grease into the bearing, settling it back down to baseline and its lowest drag coefficient. The Industrial Matrix dashboard shows a live view of this lubrication event, and is able to show you in real time that the bearing’s

This means ultrasound technology can be applied to a variety of applications within the reliability industry. Anything that creates friction, impact, and turbulence (FIT) can benefit from being monitored by ultrasound.

Here are 5 top applications for ultrasound:

  1. Bearing condition monitoring: Ultrasound can be used to assess the condition of bearings in rotating equipment by detecting changes in ultrasound patterns caused by friction, wear, and lubrication issues.

  2. Gearbox and Gear Condition Monitoring: Ultrasound can be used to monitor the condition of gears in gearboxes, gear trains, and other gear-based systems. Ultrasound can detect abnormalities in gear meshing patterns, such as pitting, spalling, or misalignment, which can indicate potential gear failures and allow for proactive maintenance.

  3. Electrical Inspection: Ultrasound can be used to detect electrical issues, such as corona discharge, partial discharge, and arcing, in electrical equipment like switchgear, transformers, and electrical panels. Ultrasound detectors can pick up emissions associated with electrical discharges, helping to identify potential electrical faults and prevent failures or fires.

  4. Steam Trap Monitoring: Ultrasound can be used to monitor the performance of steam traps, which are used to remove condensate from steam systems. Ultrasound can detect changes in ultrasound patterns caused by failed or malfunctioning steam traps, helping to identify steam trap failures and improve the energy efficiency of steam systems.

  5. Leak Detection: Ultrasound can be used to detect and locate leaks in systems that transport gases or fluids, such as compressed air systems, steam systems, and hydraulic systems. Ultrasound detectors can pick up the distinct ultrasound frequencies generated by the turbulence of escaping fluids or gases, helping to identify and repair leaks before they cause significant losses or damage.

Ultrasound is a versatile technology that has applications in both the medical industry and maintenance and reliability industry. Its ability to detect changes in frequencies and patterns makes it an ideal tool for condition-based monitoring and predictive maintenance. The biggest value it brings in recent years is when ultrasound is paired with a computer program that can interpret and plot its data. This is how Industrial Matrix is able to predict failures on rotating assets like bearings and motors as well as its condition based lubrication system. Ultrasound technology can be used in various applications, including bearing and gear condition monitoring, electrical inspection, steam trap monitoring, leak detection, and many others. Industrial Matrix's LubeMatrix is a perfect example of how ultrasound technology can be used to optimize lubrication and reduce downtime. As technology continues to advance, ultrasound is likely to play an increasingly important role in various industries.