Slow speed rotating machines are the mainstay of several industrial applications worldwide. They can be found in paper and steel mills, rotating biological contractors, wind turbines etc. Operational experience of such machinery has not only revealed the early design problems but has also presented opportunities for further significant improvements in the technology and economics of the machines. Slow speed rotating machinery maintenance, mostly related to bearings, shafts and gearbox problems, represents the cause of extended outages. Rotating machinery components such as gearboxes, shafts and bearings degrade slowly with operating time. Such a slow degradation process can be identified if a robust on-line monitoring and predictive maintenance technology is used to detect impending problems and allow repairs to be scheduled. To keep machines functioning at optimal levels, failure detection of such vital components is important as any mechanical degradation or wear, if is not impeded in time, will often progress to more serious damage affecting the operational performance of the machine. This requires far more costly repairs than simply replacing a part. Over the last few years there have been many developments in the use of Acoustic Emission (AE) technology and its analysis for monitoring the condition of rotating machinery whilst in operation, particularly on slow speed rotating machinery. Unlike conventional technologies such as thermography, oil analysis, strain measurements and vibration, AE has been introduced due to its increased sensitivity in detecting the earliest stages of loss of mechanical integrity. This programme of research involves laboratory tests for monitoring slow speed rotating machinery components (shafts and bearings) using AE technology. To implement this objective, two test rigs have been designed to assess the capability of AE as an effective tool for detection of incipient defects within low speed machine components (e.g. shafts and bearings). The focus of the experimental work will be on the initiation and growth of natural defects. Further, this research work investigates the source characterizations of AE signals associated with such bearings whilst in operation. It is also hoped that at the end of this research program, a reliable on-line monitoring scheme used for slow speed rotating machinery components can be developed
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