3S4: Ultrasound Assisted Lubrication: 3 Ways To Improve Lubrication Practices

Adrian Messer, Manager of US Operations, UE Systems, Inc.


Airborne and Structure-borne ultrasound has evolved into a technology that many would consider to be the cornerstone of an effective condition based maintenance program. From compressed air & gas leak detection, electrical inspection, and various mechanical inspections, ultrasound is truly a versatile tool for anyone’s CBM “toolbox.” One application in particular that has seen a large increase in usage, is to use ultrasound for condition based lubrication of bearings.

Studies have shown that the most common causes of premature bearing failures are related to lubrication.  From over lubrication, under lubrication, using the wrong grease for the wrong application, mixing incompatible greases, to lubricant contamination, they are all related to lubrication.  Ultrasound assisted lubrication helps to take the guesswork out of how much lubricant to apply.  Additionally, typical lubrication programs are based on timed intervals.  With time based lubrication, the tendency is to over lubricate.  Lubricant is applied at timed intervals whether the equipment needs to be greased or not.

When ultrasound assisted lubrication is implemented, the lubrication program moves more towards condition based lubrication rather than time based.  By sensing subtle changes in high frequency sound, ultrasonic instruments can be used to listen to bearings while applying grease.  This presentation will discuss how ultrasound is used for bearing lubrication, and three methods that can be implemented to help improve overall bearing and lubrication procedures.  Sound file examples of bearings being lubricated will be used to help attendees better understand ultrasound assisted lubrication.  Data collected from ultrasound routes will also be used to demonstrate trending, baseline and alarm information, and lubrication report generation.


Adrian Messer is the Manager of US Operations for UE Systems, Inc. For more than a decade, Adrian has been helping facilities around the country transform their reliability programs by successfully implementing Ultrasound technology for condition monitoring and energy conservation applications. As a subject matter expert on Ultrasound technology and implementation best practices, Mr. Messer has been a featured speaker at numerous industry events. He is a graduate of Clemson University and maintains close ties to the University assisting current students in a mentorship program through the College of Business & Behavioral Science. Adrian is a Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP) through the Society of Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP), and he is also a charter member of the Carolina’s Chapter of SMRP and the current interim Chairman of the chapter. Publications: Plant Services, June 2013, “PdM Can Impact Bearing Failure” Bearing News, February 2014, “Using Ultrasound to Improve Lubrication Practices” Plant Services, April 2014, “North American Electrical Safety” & “NFPA 70B & CSA Z463…Where Does Ultrasound Fit In the Standards?” MaintWorld, April 2014, “Using Ultrasound to Improve Lubrication Practices” MaintWorld, November 2014, “Towards Predictive Maintenance” Machinery Lubrication, January-February 2015, “Using Ultrasound to Improve Lubrication Practices” MaintWorld, April 2015, “Using Spectrum Analysis of Recorded Ultrasounds” Plant Services, July 2015, “Sound Analysis, Implementing Ultrasound for Condition Monitoring Applications” Bearing News, September 2015, “Preventing Failures at Sea” Bearing News, February 2016, “Using Ultrasound to Improve Lubrication Practices” Solutions, March-April 2016, “Ultrasound: Critical Component to Reliability Centered Lubrication”