Overheated bearings can cause machinery to fail resulting in a sudden interruption of the production line. Replacing these bearings can be costly both in terms of materials and downtime.

To extend bearing life, they should be regularly inspected for wear and overall health. But before you shut down the production line or motor to perform maintenance, you can quickly scan bearings with an infrared camera to prioritise those that need service first.

Because bearings have to be inspected while in use, an infrared camera is an ideal non-contact inspection tool. It enables you to detect the running temperature of bearings quickly, from a safe distance. In this way you can find overheated bearings before they cause failures, or excess strain on motors.

Top 4 inspection applications

1 General preventive maintenance

2 Troubleshooting

3 Working in tight spaces

4 Reducing motor strain

High resolution, thermal sensitivity, and an ergonomic articulating lens make the Fluke TiX560 and TiX520 cameras a great choice for bearing inspection applications.

General preventative maintenance

The high resolution and thermal sensitivity of the TiX560 and TiX520 cameras make it possible to scan bearings from a safe distance, making it practical to scan all of your equipment to establish a baseline that you can compare with future scans.

Large on-camera memory stores thousands of thermal images and hours of radiometric video so you can compare new images to baseline images right on the camera.

Or you can access stored images from your central database, through Fluke Connect. This helps technicians identify issues in the field and expedite maintenance.


Overheated bearings are typically found by comparing the surface temperature of a suspect bearing with an adjacent bearing of the same type under the same load. Overheating can be caused by too much or too little lubricant, incorrect mounting or incorrect replacement bearings.

Using a TiX5xx camera you can stand at a safe distance from the target and get a high resolution thermal image of the device as it runs. The articulating lens adjusts up to 180° to provide a good view of the target, from above, below, or around other objects, while you view the results on the large 14.5cm touchscreen. As you store the images and video, you can note anomalies or points of concern in voice and/or text annotations. And you can analyse the images right there on the camera to potentially resolve the problem while on site.

Working in tight spaces

Many bearings are located in hard-to-reach locations underneath conveyors and obstructed by other equipment. With some infrared cameras you would have to shoot blind, aiming the camera at a target that you can’t see and hope it is in focus.

With a TiX560 or TiX520 camera, you can turn the articulating lens 180° to a position where it gets the clearest shot of the bearings, and then view the image on the touchscreen before you save it. This helps ensure that you get good images so you can find problem bearings more easily.

Reducing motor strain

The average production line can have conveyors with thousands of bearings. If there’s a problem, the sooner you find it, the less strain it will put on the conveyor motor. Both the TiX560 and TiX520 have LaserSharp Auto Focus that uses a built in laser distance meter to calculate the distance to the target and then precisely focuses on that target.

For longer distances you can add a telephoto lens or use the zoom feature.

For more context, combine the infrared image with a visible light image in AutoBlend on the camera to quickly identify where the overheated bearing is located on the conveyor. By pinpointing a problem bearing quickly, you can avoid having to replace the motor or gearbox, not to mention potential downtime costs.

Wireless capabilities

The cameras are Fluke Connect-enabled so you can transmit images and measurements from the cameras to smart phones or tablets that have the Fluke Connect mobile app. In so doing you can share results with authorised team members and thus enhance collaboration and help resolve problems faster.

With SmartView software, included with Fluke infrared cameras, you can run additional analyses and document findings in reports that include thermal and visible light images, and measurement data. You can adjust most parameters on the stored image, including emissivity, color palette, and level/span to name a few.

Comtest, Tel: (010) 595-1821, Email:sales@comtest.co.za