Conventional gearbox vibration monitoring techniques are based on the assumption that changes in the measured structural response are caused by deterioration in the condition of the gears in the gearbox. However, this assumption is not valid under fluctuating load conditions, since the fluctuating load will amplitude modulate the measured vibration signal and cause the rotational speed of the system to change. In general monitoring of machines subject to fluctuating load conditions is dealt with by considering the constant load conditions on gearboxes or during free rotational tests. The need to monitor the condition of large gearboxes in mineral mining equipment has attracted greater interest in order to improve asset management. An inherent need for signal processing techniques, with the ability to indicate degradation in gear condition, under fluctuating load conditions exist. Such techniques should enable the online monitoring of gearboxes that operate under fluctuating load conditions. A continued flow of up to date information should consequently be available for asset and production management. With this research, a load demodulation normalisation procedure was developed to remove the modulation caused by fluctuating load conditions, which obscures the detection of an incipient gear fault conditions. A rotation domain averaging technique is implemented which combines the ability of computer order tracking and time domain averaging to suppress the spectral smearing effect caused by the fluctuation in speed, as well as to suppress the amplitude of the vibration which is not synchronous with the rotation of the gear shaft. It is demonstrated that the instantaneous angular speed of a gearbox shaft can be utilised to monitor the condition of the gear on the shaft. The instantaneous angular speed response measurement is less susceptible to phase distortion introduced by the transmission path when compared to conventional gearbox casing vibration measurements. A phase domain averaging approach was developed to overcome the phase distortion effect of the transmission path under fluctuating load conditions. The load demodulation normalisation and rotation domain averaging signal processing procedures were applied to both the conventional gearbox casing vibration and instantaneous angular speed measurements prior to the calculation of a smoothed pseudo Wigner-Ville distribution of the data. Statistical parameters such as the energy ratio were calculated from the distribution. These parameters could be monotonically trended under different load conditions to indicate the degradation of gear conditions.
Thesis (PhD (Mechanical Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2007.