Bearing life testing for incoming inspection and supplier evaluation

November 19, 2020

Bearings are a globally sourced commodity. As such, quality control of regular deliveries as well as the evaluation of new suppliers is highly important. The common methods for quality control are either insufficient for detecting most serious flaws or require significant time, effort, and money. Rapid lifetime testing is a quick, cost-effective alternative that can replace all other forms of inspection for incoming shipments and serve as an initial evaluation method for new suppliers.


Rapid testing of bearings refers to an accelerated test of a handful of samples to detect flaws. These tests are most frequently employed when approving new suppliers and during routine quality control.

As a globally sourced commodity, there are numerous bearing producers on the market. Many of these producers make very attractive offers – only for a factory audit to reveal that they are incapable of delivering the desired quality. When dealing with a large number of contenders, performing an audit on all of them would be an expensive and inefficient method of narrowing the field. Instead, it is sensible to acquire samples from each company and subject them to a rapid test. The test demonstrates which companies have potential and a subsequent factory audit will determine which of these make it to the final round of investigation.

Alternatively, even when a supplier has been approved and shown to be able to deliver a quality product, there can still be issues with quality stability. Incoming inspections should be performed on a routine basis to identify faulty product.

Different methods are available. The most basic option is a visual inspection and measurement of outer dimensions; a more thorough investigation involves measurements of the raceways and metallurgical inspections. The latter techniques are pricy and therefore generally only applied to one or two bearings in a batch, making a blanket statement about the overall quality of that batch a questionable conclusion. One or two rapid tests are an affordable alternative capable of catching all major flaws.

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