There’s an App for That



By Mark D. Hinckley, director of strategic projects, SKF USA Inc.

Equipping Industrial Plants with Easy Access to Solutions on the Spot

The old saying “knowledge is power” has gained new relevance in our age of connectivity. Not too long ago, readily available resources on how best to set up, operate, monitor, and maintain machinery were somewhat limited. More often than not when searching for help and answers, the few choices were to turn to a more experienced colleague, consult an equipment manual, or contact a component supplier.

skfWith the arrival of mobile apps, though, resources have multiplied considerably. A wide variety of specially created apps provides immediate capabilities for maintenance staff and others to download technical information, software programs, applications support, and easy-to-use tools anywhere and anytime. As never before, apps for smartphones and tablets deliver timely expertise and guidance.

Meeting The Needs

An expanding portfolio of SKF-produced mobile apps for the industrial marketplace illustrates that when a need arises, an app is likely to follow. So far, dozens of different apps have been created and can be accessed from the Apple app store and Android market. More are on the horizon.

The apps collectively cover much ground, whether offering engineering and calculation tools, informational and educational resources, or reliability and maintenance support, among other categories. A wealth of knowledge and knowhow is now available at anyone’s fingertips.

The SKF Bearing Calculator, for example, ranks among the most popular – downloaded more frequently than any other mobile app in the SKF collection.  This app makes it easy to perform complex bearing calculations, provides a detailed report documenting input and calculation results, and enables proper bearing selection, based on a variety of key parameters selected from a check-off menu.

Need help in finding a proper belt for an application or in troubleshooting belt performance? The SKF Belt Calculator app can help make the pick and identify more than 100 possible solutions for particular belt-performance problems within seconds.

Looking for the most appropriate shaft seal or seal accessory for a machine? The SKF Seal Select app profiles a comprehensive range of sealing solutions complete with application recommendations for each. Through several different input parameters, you can easily find a suitable SKF sealing solution for a specific application.

Setting up an automatic lubricator for bearings? SKF DialSet, a mobile app for skfsmartphones, accurately shows the recommended dispense rate for grease and establishes the correct settings. These settings are based on application criteria and the grease selected, confirming re-lubrication intervals and calculating lubricant quantities. This is all based on proven SKF lubrication theories. On top of the lubricator’s grease cartridge there is a dial that controls how quickly the grease will be dispensed for periods ranging from one to 12 months. The app will calculate the interval and provide the setting that corresponds to that interval.

Among apps quenching the thirst for knowledge, SKF Shelf offers access to the vast library of SKF product and technology literature. This literature is available in various languages and allows searching and sorting by product, industry, and other categories. SKF Shelf does the heavy lifting for instant access to all current SKF printed material data.

Another educational resource is the SKF EMCM Capabilities app with an overview of electric motor condition monitoring technologies. This app helps users to understand the tools available to monitor the health of electric motors with an eye toward preventing failures and maximizing motors in service.

Do you think that you may have a counterfeit SKF bearing? There’s an app for that: the SKF Authenticate app can help you find out for certain by working with SKF to confirm product authenticity and that you’re good to go.

First of Its Kind

Many mobile apps skew toward the practical by addressing specific maintenance tasks performed on the plant floor, some demanding exacting precision.

For example, a dedicated app for tablets and smartphones works hand-in-hand with the SKF Shaft Alignment Tool TKSA 51 – creating a tool that is the first instrument of its kind designed to accurately and intuitively guide users when aligning or correcting shafts in rotating machinery.

Regardless of an operator’s level of experience, the combination of alignment tool hardware and compatible app allows for quick and precise set ups for motors, drives, fans, gearboxes, pulleys, and couplings. Accurate alignment of shafts in rotating machinery is critical in realizing optimized machinery uptime and production output. The consequences of misalignment can be dire.

When an electric motor, fan, gearbox, or other driver is set up with a generator, pump, or other equipment, the shafts of the two must always be properly aligned to increase the operating lifespan of the rotating machinery. Otherwise, parallel or angular misalignment will cause stress on the shafts and jeopardize machinery health and operation.

Some of the benefits of accurate shaft alignment include:

  • Increased life for bearings.
  • Reduced stress on couplings.
  • Minimized risk of coupling overheating and breakage.
  • Reduced friction and energy consumption.
  • Minimized noise and vibration.
  • Increased machinery uptime and efficiency.
  • Reduced costs associated with replacement of components.

Accurate shaft alignment will help increase bearing life, reduce stress on couplings and minimize risk of overheating and breakage, inhibit wear on seals to help prevent contamination and lubricant leakage, reduce friction and energy consumption, minimize noise and vibration, increase machinery uptime and efficiency, and reduce costs associated with replacing components.

skfThe TKSA 51 tool and app can make short and easy work of the shaft alignment process. The TKSA 51 integrates two compact and lightweight laser measuring units and shaft brackets to mount the tool, whether on small machines with limited space or on larger equipment using supplied extension chains and magnetic holders.

With the tool mounted, the wirelessly connected TKSA 51 app uses real-time data to provide a live 3D view of the measuring units, allowing operators to rotate the virtual machine at will and in all directions to achieve a highly intuitive alignment process.

Measurements at any angle can be taken by a touch of a button or by using the system’s hands-free automatic measurement function, which only requires the shaft to be rotated to the next measurement position. Among other user-friendly features, notification and helpful guidance menus are displayed to assist operators during setup and use.

Upon completion of an alignment, accuracy check, or correction, a comprehensive report is generated. The report can be customized, emailed, and/or uploaded for future reference or trending over time.

Looking Ahead

All the mobile apps developed for the industrial environment reinforce that the world of connectivity is constantly evolving and influencing the ways we work.  The availability of mobile apps with their how-to references, information support, calculation and selection tools, and other capabilities can help make life easier for maintenance personnel and promote optimized plant productivity down the line.

The pace of mobile app development for industry shows no signs of slowing—and there are few, if any, limitations on what apps can contribute.

About SKF

SKF has been a leading global technology provider since 1907. Their fundamental strength is the ability to continuously develop new technologies, and then use them to create products that offer competitive advantages to our customers. SKF achieves this by combining hands-on experience in over 40 industries with their knowledge across the SKF technology platforms: bearings and units, seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication systems.

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Mark D. Hinckley is Director of Strategic Projects at SKF USA Inc. ( He can be reached at 267-436-6510.