Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Retrofittable Means of Detecting Motor Bearing Failure

Request Number
Due Date
Aug 3
Program Manager


Joint development, technology acquisition, technology licensing, supplier agreement


Phase 1 – Review and assess proposals (1 month)

Phase 2 – Test proposed solution(s) (3-6 months)

Phase 3 – Develop commercial solution (timescale depends upon chosen technology)


To be negotiated depending upon the completeness of the solution.

For questions regarding this Request, please contact the PM, Steve Groves via and reference the project title and/or number.

RFP was closed on
Aug 2018

RFP Title


Retrofittable Means of Detecting Motor Bearing Failure
RFP Description

NineSigma, representing a leading engineering company, invites proposals for technologies that could be used to detect motor roller bearing failure within a piece of machinery, without the need to either open the machinery or modify the design of the machinery and which could be applied to already installed machinery.


NineSigma’s client manufactures a range of products that are typically installed and then put into continuous or semi-continuous use within industrial environments. The equipment has internal electric motors and roller bearings. When the bearings within the equipment eventually fail, the equipment needs to be taken out of service so that repairs can be undertaken. If this needs to be done unexpectedly, through unplanned maintenance, it can be very expensive and inconvenient for the equipment user. Our client would therefore like to be able to detect the early onset of bearing failure within the equipment. This would allow the user to schedule the repair of the bearings at a suitable time – during a planned maintenance window, for example.


Although roller bearings equipped with condition monitoring sensors are commercially available, it is not always possible to incorporate such sensors within equipment because the design makes it unsuitable for internal modification. It is also not a viable solution for existing equipment which is already installed and in use. A solution is sought which could be retrofitted to an existing equipment installation.


Sensors are currently available which can be placed on the outside of equipment to monitor vibrations, but they only provide general vibration data and their ability to specifically pinpoint roller bearing failure is poor. Our client seeks a solution which can accurately and reliably detect bearing failure at the earliest opportunity and ideally have the ability to judge the severity of the bearing failure.


It is anticipated that such a solution might be achieved by fixing a device to the outside of the equipment, but alternative approaches could potentially be used, such as devices that can be placed within the equipment room and be capable of remote detection.


Anticipated Project Phases

Phase 1 – Review and assess proposals

  • Client may seek additional information as required in order to properly evaluate each proposal. (A Non-Disclosure Agreement may be required so that confidential information can be shared between the parties.)

Phase 2 – Test proposed solution(s)

  • Tests to be conducted within the client’s facilities with the client’s equipment.

Phase 3 – Develop commercial solution

  • Activities required will depend upon the solution which is selected and the maturity of the technology.
Key Success Criteria

The successful technology will:

  • Be an already developed and proven system suitable for equipment with internal motors and roller bearings
  • Demonstrate effectiveness at reliably and accurately detecting bearing failure
    • Evidence could be provided by way of data from working prototypes, case studies, commercial applications, etc.
  • Not generate false-positives (alarms generated when there is not actually a bearing failure could result in loss of confidence on the part of users and lead to costly downtime whilst unnecessarily troubleshooting is carried out)
  • Be easy and practical to retrofit externally to a variety of equipment types
  • Be close to commercialization (high level of technology readiness)
    • Commercially available solutions would be ideal
  • Be robust and suitable for use in an industrial application where continuous monitoring is required


Desirable attributes for any proposed solution:

  • Can be powered by either battery or energy harvesting
  • Ability to judge the severity of the bearing failure
Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include but are not limited to:

  • New types of sensor, based on sensing of e.g.
    • Acoustic emissions
    • Vibrations
    • Electrical supply to the motor
  • Advanced signal processing techniques to extract more useful data from existing sensor outputs
  • Improved data analysis techniques (using e.g. machine learning, neural networks) to improve detection of bearing failure
  • Novel ways of retrofitting sensors – alternative mechanical mounting of sensor(s) onto the equipment without changing the equipment
  • Monitoring of motor bearing lubricants
Approaches not of Interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • Solutions for which there is no supporting evidence that bearing failure can be reliably detected
  • Solutions which would involve product re-design, including any modification to the roller bearings
  • Solutions which would involve disassembling equipment in order to place sensors inside the equipment
  • Solutions which only provide a prediction of bearing failure, unless there is evidence that it offers a robust way of estimating the remaining life of a bearing
  • Solutions which are only at the feasibility stage, where no fully working prototype could be provided to our client for testing, if necessary
Items to be Submitted

Your response should address the following:

  • Non-confidential description of proposed technology and working principle
    • Please address the bullet points in the Key Success Criteria section as far as possible
  • Examples of how the technology has been previously deployed (types of equipment and operating environments; case studies and applications)
  • Evidence of ability to detect motor bearing failure (please provide test results and any other pertinent data that will support your claims)
  • Technical maturity of the proposed solution (prototype, ready to be commercialized, commercially available)
  • Position on intellectual property including patent references
  • Desired relationship with sponsor
  • Team description and related experience
Preferred Collaboration Types
Area of Interest