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Automatic bearing fault classification combining statistical classification and

fuzzy logic
T. Lindh, J. Ahola, P. Spatenka, A-L Rautiainen
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Lappeenranta, FINLAND

Abstract - In this paper, a new automatic analysis method for purpose is not to tune parameters in order to maximise the
the detection of cyclic bearing faults is introduced. The reliability of the system. The fuzzy logic has been used in
method uses a multivariate statistical fault classification machinery vibration analysis by, for example, Mechefske [1] and
and fuzzy logic. Features are extracted from an envelope Lindh [2].
spectrum of the frame acceleration of a motor frame.
Qualitative and quantitative measures of the features are
The features are created from the coefficients of the envelope
Keywords: bearing fault classification spectra calculated from the motor frame acceleration signal. The
expected bearing pass frequencies (the characteristic fault
frequencies) [3] for different fault types are calculated and the
I. INTRODUCTION peaks near to these calculated values are selected as features. The
envelope spectra with selected components are presented in
The research of condition monitoring of electric motors has
Figures 4, 5 and 6. A bearing fault feature vector consists of 16
been wide for several decades. The research and development at
PSD components of a signal envelope at selected frequencies. The
universities and in industry has provided means for the predictive
selected components represent the characteristic fault frequencies
condition monitoring. Many different devices and systems are
and their three nearest harmonic frequencies for all the following
being developed and are widely used in industry, transportation
faults: outer race fault o, inner race fault i, rolling element fault b
and in civil engineering. Recently, in order to achieve the
and cage fault c. These PSD components X form a 16-
automatic analysis of faults, many methods have been developed
dimensional feature vector as follows
and reported in scientific arenas. In this paper, the guidelines for
the statistical fault classification of the envelope spectrum x = [ X ( f o ) X ( 2 f o ) X (3 f o ) X ( 4 f o ) X ( f i ) X ( 2 f i ) X ( 3 f i ) X ( 4 f i ) X ( f b ) X ( 2 f b )
components using the Mahalanobis distance calculation and X ( 3 f b ) X ( 4 f b ) X ( f c ) X ( 2 f c ) X ( 3 f c ) X (4 f c )]
deterministic classification with multi- valued fuzzy logic are
presented. The main idea is the following: As humans, the
The common measure for the statistical distance between
algorithm searches patterns in the spectrum, analyses the
samples is the Mahalanobis distance
magnitude of peaks found and estimates the probability of a false
triggering with qualitative factors of extracted features of the
r 2 = (x − m x ) ' C x−1 (x − m x ) , (2)
The Mahalanobis metrics is superior in the cases where the where r is the Mahalanobis distance between feature vector x, Cx
features are dependent on each other as is the case with the is a covarariance matrix containing variances between features and
spectrum components of an acceleration signal. Based on the mx is a mean vector of features [4].
distance calculations and a minimum distance classifier, possibly
with a trigger level for the distance from the healthy case, a fully The proposed system consists of the following training phase
automatic system can be constructed. The main problems are, actions
firstly, how the prototypes of faulty spectra are created and, • The creation of artificial spectra for the cases of an
secondly, how the trigger levels from a healthy case representing outer race defect, an inner race defect, a cage defect and
the abnormal situation are selected. In addition, the rotational a rolling element defect.
speed of the motor must be taken into account in the system by • The creation of an over all acceleration level feature for
assuming known operation conditions or by rotational speed low, normal, high and very high levels of vibration.
adaptation of the spectrum. Being so that only the healthy case • Calculation of a normal case prototype vector using
spectrum is available, a-priori-knowledge of the faulty case several measurements from a healthy case.
patterns must be included in the system artificially. Another And of test phase actions using statistical distance calculation
possibility is to use broken case spectra obtained from another • The minimum distance classification using the
motor with a broken bearing. calculation of distance between a test vector and
The advantages of the fuzzy logic approach include the healthy and all broken case prototype vectors.
possibility to change the linguistic rules into decisions by copying • Classification of abnormal versus normal using trigger
the procedure and thinking of a human analyser. The rules that level distances from a healthy case vector.
include uncertainty and inaccuracy are changed into numbers And test phase actions using fuzzy logic including
describing the severity or the probability of a fault. The rules and • Calculation of memberships in the output sets that
membership functions can be tuned so that the sensitivity of the describe the degree of fault for every fault type under
system is good. On the other hand, when the fuzzy logic requires consideration.
tuning of parameters, it is possible that it is tuned to find faults • Calculation of memberships in the output sets that
from test data, but the logic remains case specific. In this paper, describe the correct classification probability of the
the purpose of introducing fuzzy logic is to demonstrate its fault for every fault type under consideration.
possibilities as a part of an automatic fault classification; the
• As a combination of the previous memberships, the covariance information).
selection between a healthy and faulty case with fault
type information and instructions for the action. In order to demonstrate the applicability of fuzzy logic two
The values of prototype vectors are selected to represent 40 different models are created. The first model (A) uses the 16
different levels of failure. The bearing impulse increases the dimensional feature vectors presented. Features of each fault type
vibration at characteristic frequencies of the motor frame. are tested separately. Therefore, the inputs include the
Therefore the impulse response of the motor frame to the bearing magnitudes of the envelope spectrum components at the expected
impulses is a series of resonating waves. The envelope of this ball pass frequency and their three nearest harmonic frequencies
vibration is not sinusoidal. Therefore, the harmonics of the separately for all the following faults: outer race fault o, inner race
bearing pass frequency are found in the spectrum but are fault i, rolling element fault b and cage fault c. The input sets
attenuated compared to the bearing pass frequency. The values of consist of the sets low, medium, high and very high. The
the prototype vectors are selected bearing this in mind. The membership functions are triangle- shaped. In the fuzzy rules, the
prototype vectors are done without testing their discrimination minimum method is used for and- rules and the maximum method
power using a big value for the characteristic frequency and then for the or- rules. The weakness of these methods is that they do
smaller values to the harmonics in descending order. The features not take into account all of the input memberships. These
not influenced by a certain fault are set to one, the bearing pass methods are only used because of their simplicity. The output
frequency component to five, the first harmonic to four, the sets are healthy, suspicious, broken and seriously damaged
second to three and the third to two. Then the values are altered describing the degree of the fault. The centroid of membership
to represent 40 different levels of damage and 20 % random function for the set healthy is at 0.1, for the set suspicious is at
variation is added to the values. A set of prototype vectors for 0.2, for the set broken is at 0.5. For the set seriously damaged the
inner race fault is presented in Figure 1. membership increases linearly from the value 0.4.
The second model introduces new parameters in order to have
more reliable results. It can be supposed that the risk of a wrong
8 decision is minimised when the degree of the fault is evaluated as
well as the probability of a specific fault. Then the output of logic
describes better the risk of the continuing the use of a motor
without service. This risk can be described with the multiplication
of the degree of the fault and the qualitative probability of a
prototype vector value

certain fault. The probability is calculated as an error between the
estimated and measured quantities. Then the following rules are

• If the magnitudes of the outputs (for different faults) of
previous logic (model A) are high, the degree of the
fault is high.
• If the RMS amplitude of the vibration is high and the
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
features magnitudes of the outputs (for different faults) of
previous logic are low, the condition of the machine is
Fig.1. The prototype vectors for the inner race fault class. abnormal.
• If there are high peaks in the envelope spectrum at non-
Formation of a test vector. From the envelope spectrum of a predicted frequencies the condition is classified as other
real measurement (on running 15 kW induction motor) the twelve abnormal situation.
components in the neighbourhood of the calculated characteristic • If the distance to a certain fault is low using the
frequency (frequency resolution of PSD ∆f ˜ 0.2 Hz) were statistical classification or if the spectrum peaks are
selected for pre-processing, in which, the maximum value of these found near to predicted frequencies, the probability of
was selected as a feature. Envelope spectra for the outer race fault the fault is great.
and inner race fault were formed using actual measurements. In • If there are peaks near to the harmonic frequencies of
the case of other faults the spectra of the healthy case were the supposed bearing pass peak frequency or if there
altered artificially near characteristic frequencies. are rotational frequency side bands found at predicted
Classification. In the tests, the distances between the test frequencies, the probability of the fault is great.
vector and the vectors representing any of the fault types (broken The outputs of previous rules can be used in new rules such
classes) and of the healthy case were calculated according to as
Equation 2. The jacknified Mahalanobis distance calculation, • If the probability of a certain fault is great and the
where the vector under test is not included into calculation of degree of the fault is high, the output is act fast.
covariance and mean, was used. Then a minimum distance was • If the probability of a certain fault is great and the
selected and the test vector was classified to belong to a degree of the fault is not small, the output is act.
corresponding class. In the second test, the distances were • If the probability of a certain fault is low and the degree
calculated with reduced feature spaces so that only the features of the fault is high, the output is act.
representing a certain fault class were selected to a feature vector. • If the probability of a certain fault is low and the degree
The distances between the four test vectors and the of the fault is small, the output is wait.
corresponding fault prototypes as well as healthy class • If the non-normal situation holds then the output is
prototypes were calculated separately. If in one or more warning.
calculations the distance to a faulty class was less than to the
healthy class the corresponding fault was classified. This The features that are extracted from the envelope spectrum
procedure makes it possible to recognise multiple simultaneous are illustrated in Figure 2 and the flow chart of the
fault cases. On the other hand, the possibility of an incorrect classification system is illustrated in Figure 3.
estimate is greater than in previous test because the values not
changing due to a fault are not taken into account (weaker
-3 -3
x 10 x 10
6 6

5 4

4 expected bearing pass frequencies * 2

rotational side band frequencies o 1

3 other maximum value x 0

0 100 200 300 400 500 600
f [Hz]
x 10
2 5

4 Outer Inner rolling

race race element

2 test
0 100 200 300 400 500 600
f [Hz] 1

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Fig.2. The features extracted from the envelope spectrum. features

Signal Envelope spectrum Feature extraction Statistical distance Fig.4. The envelope spectrum of a healthy motor is illustrated in
formation calculation
the upper figure. The spectrum components that are
selected for the test feature vector are marked with *. This
vector is illustrated in the lower figure with the prototype
Feature extraction Minimum distance
classifier vectors of the outer race fault (∧ ), the inner race fault (∨ ),
RMS, peaks, etc. the ball spin fault (o ) and the cage fault ( ). The vector of
healthy case is a unity vector.
Fuzzy logics x 10

Result 4

Fig.3. The block diagram of the classification system. 3


0 100 200 300 400 500 600
Results. The envelope spectrum of a healthy motor is illustrated f [Hz]

in the Figure 4 (upper diagram). The spectrum components that 6

x 10

are selected for the test feature vector are marked with *. This 5 Inner rolling
vector is illustrated in the lower figure with the (mean) prototype 4
race element cage

vectors of fault classes. The corresponding curves in the case of 3 test

the outer race fault and inner race fault are presented in Figures 5 2

and 6. The classification results are presented in Tables 1 and 2. 1

Table 1 presents the classification results using a 16- dimensional 0
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
feature space, covering all four fault types. Table 2 presents the features

classification results using four dimensional feature space. Both

indicate only correct classification results. The statistical distance
between healthy and broken cases is bigger when four- Fig.5. The envelope spectrum of a motor with an outer race
dimensional feature space is used. On the other hand, there is a faulted bearing is illustrated in the upper figure. The
bigger risk of misclassification if the shape of the test feature spectrum components that are selected for the test feature
vector changes. It is important to bear in mind, firstly, that the vector are marked with *. This vector is illustrated in the
correct classification was obtained without any tuning of the lower figure with the prototype vectors of the outer race
prototype vectors, and secondly, that there can be many other fault (∧), the inner race fault (∨ ), the ball spin fault (o ) and
fault modes that were not taken into account and much more the cage fault ( ). The vector of healthy case is a unity
research work should be done with various fault types and vector.
motors before jumping into conclusions that generalize the result
obtained with these tests.

The classification results using the fuzzy logic for the degree of
fault are presented in Table 3. All of the broken cases were
classified to the class broken and the healthy case was classified
to the classes healthy or suspicious. In the Table 4 the outputs of
the fuzzy logic representing the fault probability are presented.
These values are multiplied with the fault degree outputs forming
the memberships of the output act. The results clearly
demonstrate the advantages of introducing both quantitative and
qualitative features in the calculation as well as combining the
statistical classification and fuzzy logic.
x 10
-3 The problem of prototype vector creation was solved here in the
most straightforward way. The characteristic bearing frequency
peaks and their three nearest harmonics were selected as features.
In some cases, the harmonics can be attenuated (sinusoidal
envelope). Then the risk of misclassification is obvious. In this,
the fuzzy logic will correct this if the amplitude of the peak at the

bearing pass frequency is high.
0 100 200 300 400 500 600
f [Hz]

x 10
-3 Trigger levels are not required when minimum classifier is used.

Outer Inner
However, for fuzzy logic requires sets that have limits. The
rolling cage
3 race race element trigger levels, on the other hand are not as strict as with Boolean
logic and therefore a priori knowledge of the behavior of different
2 test
vector fault types can be used. However, the limits are case specific and
1 are the causes for the possible misclassification.
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
features The risk of a misclassification increases in situations where there
exists a high peak value in the envelope spectrum at some
Fig.6. The envelope spectrum of a motor with an inner race characteristic bearing fault frequency and is not caused by a
faulted bearing is illustrated in the upper figure and features are bearing fault. This kind of situation is found in Figure 6 where the
marked similarly as in the previous figure. peak value caused by vibration at a rotational frequency is
misinterpreted to be the one caused by a cage fault. In this case,
Table 1. Classification results using 16- dimensional feature space however, the covariance between other features of cage fault
covering all four fault types. The bold cases are selected with the remains low so that the misclassification was avoided. On the
minimum distance classifier. other hand, this case also illustrates the usefulness of using the
healthy outer race inner race ball spin cage Mahalanobis metrics in the distance calculations. However, with
healthy 0.6981 1.3607 2.7905 1.6052 2.3892 the reduced feature space of Table 2 the difference between the
outer race 5.3817 1.2018 7.0394 8.7226 7.5465
distance to inner race fault and the distance to cage fault is quite
inner race 2.9616 3.2331 1.0653 2.7675 2.7684
ball spin 6.5451 5.3318 8.2085 1.0579 6.7352 small because of the weaker covariance information than with the
cage 0.7758 1.4425 0.8656 1.7417 0.1666 classification with 16 dimensional feature space of Table 1. In
addition, this example demonstrates the usefulness of using the
Table 2. Classification results using four dimensional feature deterministic qualitative measures and fuzzy logic: In this case,
space. The distance between test vector and any fault prototypes the significance of that peak was reduced because of the missing
are calculated separately. The bold cases are selected with the harmonics and rotational side bands.
minimum distance classifier.
test data distance to outer race inner race ball spin cage V. CONCLUSIONS
healthy healthy 0.1767 0.148 0.1107 0.138
broken 0.781 4.235 1.2339 1.3203 The method where the Mahalanobis distance based statistical
outer race healthy 3.9542 0.2946 0.2454 0.2164 classification results were used as one input in fuzzy logic was
broken 0.0394 6.5133 1.4492 1.4779
introduced. This input and other qualitative features of the
inner race healthy 0.556 2.4608 0.441 2.0332
broken 1.385 0.3182 1.6345 2.656 spectrum were taken into account in the fuzzy logic which
ball spin healthy 0.2327 0.3109 4.4202 0.1176 evaluated the probability of a certain fault. The other fuzzy logic
broken 0.9328 4.1784 0.2219 1.7265 evaluated the degree of certain fault and by combining the outputs
cage healthy 0.2827 0.3915 0.2275 4.0238 of these logics, the final suggestion of the state and required action
broken 1.0563 5.0148 1.7709 0.073 were given. Based on the tests, this approach improves the
reliability of the fault analysis when the reliability of the analysis
Table 3. Classification results using simple fuzzy logic for the means the minimisation of the wrong action, continuing the use or
determination of fault degree. repairing the motor. In many researches the neural network has
Fault degree been used as a pre- processor for the fuzzy logic or as post-
test data outer race inner race ball spin cage processor for time-frequency representations of signals [5,6]. The
healthy 0.18 0.17 0.17 0.18
outer race 0.47 0.42 0.18 0.10 presented approach is alternative to that approach. The statistical
inner race 0.03 0.36 0.03 0.32 Mahalanobis distance based classifier as used in this paper may
ball spin 0.18 0.17 0.50 0.18
cage 0.18 0.16 0.17 0.50
give equal results to the neural network. However, due to the
exact input output relationship, the controllability of the
classification is better when the Mahalanobis distance classifier is
Table 4. Classification results using fuzzy logic that estimates the used.
fault degree as well as the probability of the faults. Action can be The test data was rather limited (real data from outer and
formed with fuzzy logic or multiplication of the fields of Table 3 inner race faults, simulations for other faults) and jumping to
with the probabilities of this table. The actions are selected with certain conclusions should not be made before the tests are done
trigger levels. with many motors with different bearing faults. On the other
Fault probability Action
test data outer race inner race ball spin cage outer race inner race ball spin cage hand, by discussing the possibilities of an automatic fault
healthy 0.18 0.17 0.16 0.17 0.03 0.03 0.03 0.03
outer race 0.49 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.23 0.13 0.05 0.02
analysis, the guidelines for the future work are given.
inner race 0.32 0.35 0.17 0.16 0.01 0.13 0.01 0.05 Furthermore, the presented method relies on the known
ball spin 0.32 0.17 0.17 0.16 0.06 0.03 0.09 0.03
cage 0.32 0.17 0.16 0.58 0.06 0.03 0.03 0.29 properties of envelope spectrum peaks (for example [7]), if the
peaks appear, the method would classify properly any fault
types represented in the feature vectors.

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