Original Date: 07/09/2007
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : On-Site Research and Experimentation
The Inpro/Seal Company developed a test facility where quantitative tests could be conducted with repeatability to measure the improvement provided by various proposed design changes. Having this process and on-site test capability has resulted in more rapid fielding of successful upgrades that meet customer needs in various and frequently adverse operating environments.
The Inpro/Seal Company of Rock Island, Illinois, is a leading producer of bearing isolators for rotating equipment. Inpro/Seal bearing isolators replace traditional rotating equipment seals. The company previously had few or any existing standards for comparing the performance of rotating equipment seals in various adverse operating environments. Few standards existed for determining the effectiveness of seals and bearing isolators in keeping contaminants out while retaining lubricating oil. The performance measures that existed were often pass or fail and provided no measure of relative performance.
As part of an ongoing product improvement effort to maintain the company’s position as a leading supplier of long- lasting bearing isolators, Inpro/Seal developed an innovative research and experimentation program. A test facility was developed where quantitative tests could be conducted and repeated to measure the improvement provided by various proposed design changes. Test rigs to determine resistance to water intrusion, dust and dirt intrusion, and lubricant retention were developed. The water intrusion test determines (with repeatable results) the water-sealing capability of seals at different water velocities and various shaft rpms.
A test bed to test Inpro/Seal’s new “Air Mizer” articulating bearing isolator was also developed and used with success. The research and experimentation test facilities were married up with a process of providing beta versions of new bearing isolators to volunteer customers for field testing under actual conditions. Inpro/Seal encouraged participation by guaranteeing satisfaction (and replacement of the bearing isolator if necessary) while allowing the participating companies a 120-day delayed payment plan to ensure they were satisfied with the new product. To date the experimentation facility and associated process have supported successful incremental design upgrades to the isolation capability of Inpro/Seal’s initial bearing isolator line and has further resulted in a breakthrough new line of articulating bearing isolators. Having this process and on-site test capability have resulted in more rapid fielding of successful upgrades that meet customer needs as opposed to a trial-and-error approach in which upgrades are sent directly to field testing without the intermediate quantifiable lab experimentation currently used by Inpro/Seal.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.