Auto-informative plain bearings - Autarkic, temperature-based gap height determination for condition monitoring in plain bearings



Condition monitoring of machine elements is of fundamental importance for the progressive digitalization in mechanical engineering. Using condition monitoring, critical operating states and incipient damage to machine elements can ideally be detected immediately online. By detecting damage at an early stage, machines can be maintained appropriately. Hence planned maintenance intervals can be extended and costs can be saved. The most important variables for estimating life-limiting conditions in plain bearings are the lubrication gap height and the bearing temperature. Common monitoring systems, such as costly wired inductive displacement sensors, are retrofitted to the plain bearings and can only be installed with considerable effort in multi-axis rotating systems, such as planetary gearboxes. A machine element-integrated measuring system for temperature-based condition monitoring of plain bearings does not exist to date.


The aim of this research project is therefore to develop and integrate a system for in-situ monitoring of the lubrication gap height in plain bearings. The condition monitoring system should enable reliable condition monitoring with low-cost components without influencing the primary function. The transmission of the process data is to be realized wirelessly. The system should also be energy-autonomous. The solution principle to be researched for the auto-informative plain bearing should use thermoelectric effects for temperature measurement and simultaneously for self-sufficient energy supply. To achieve the overall research goal, the following sub-goals are being pursued:

  • Definition of a suitable measurement system as well as model-based determination of the required sensor density for recording the temperature field.
  • Conceptual design of an energy system for energy generation and storage
  • Development of a wireless transmission methodology for the transmission of operating parameters as well as warning signals in case of critical operating conditions
  • Validation of the developed self-sufficient measurement system on the plain bearing test rig

The research project "Auto-informative plain bearings" is being carried out within the framework of the DFG priority program 2305 "Sensor-integrating machine elements as pioneers of area-wide digitization". Further information regarding the priority program can be found at


Research and Project partner

Chair of Integrated Digital Systems and Circuit Design at RWTH Aachen University, IDS

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Promoted by

The German Research Foundation, DFG


Project Sponsor

German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of Priority Program 2305 "Sensor-integrated Machine Elements as Pioneers of Area-wide Digitization".