Shaft Alignment Self-Diagnosis Using the Smart Bearing Sensor

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Dr Chris Leontopoulos
Professor Charalambos Mouzakis
Mr Petrolekas Michail


A fully functional prototype sensor has been developed to provide new insights into vessel shaftline dynamics that introduces real time data collection and performance evaluation. The Smart Bearing Sensor was recently tested onboard a large container vessel and was shown to work with promising results. The sensor is based on strain gauge technology and has been shown to enable continuous measurement of the bearing reaction load through the strain induced onto the bearing housing by the shaft. Given the capability of continuous monitoring and recording of the bearing reaction load and shaft misalignment angle, the prototype sensor removes the need for jack-up tests for re-alignment purposes. It is envisaged that this system will allow for the earliest possible diagnosis of shaft alignment-related problems, such as bearing unloading, bearing overloading or excessive shaft-bearing misalignment. The prototype sensor could be incorporated into a marine condition monitoring system that provides a more timely warning against bearing failures, particularly when compared to bearing temperature sensor indications.

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