Diagnostics and prognostics of rotating machinery ball bearings is quite mature with an abundance of available methods and algorithms. However, extending these algorithms to other ball bearing applications is challenging and may not yield usable results. This work used a linear axis to study the ability of an inertial measurement unit (IMU), along with nine signal features, to measure changes in geometric error motions due to induced faults on the recirculating ball bearings of two carriage trucks. The IMU data was analyzed with the nine features used for rotating machinery systems, including root-mean-square, standard deviation, and kurtosis. For each stage of degradation, the statistical population and median value of each feature were compared against the population and median for no degradation, to monitor feature changes due to ball damage. Correlation analyses revealed an ability of the standard deviation feature to detect statistically significant changes as small as 0.05 micrometers or 0.5 microradians, corresponding to a total damaged surface area of truck balls of less than 0.1 percent.

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