The American Bearing Manufacturers Association (AFBMA) part numbers are standardized codes used to identify specific bearings according to their type, dimensions, and other specifications. These part numbers were created during WWII to ensure consistency and compatibility across different manufacturers.

AFBMA part numbers are typically found on motors, pumps, gearboxes where rolling elements are found. The part numbers are complex with alpha numeric characters that identify dimensions, specifications, and configurations of the bearing. While some bearing manufacturers use the standard numbering schema to identify their part numbers, most do not. This creates confusion in identifying the specific bearings associated with the AFBMA part numbers for the purposes of bearing interchange and vibration analysis.

AFBMA part numbers would not have vibration fault frequencies assigned as they are not manufacturer specific. So, how does the analyst identify the bearing in question and obtain the necessary vibration data with only the standardized part number available?

The easiest and most reliable solution is to use an interchange or cross reference database or bearing library. The most detailed resources will provide the analyst with an immediate list of all manufacturers that make an interchangeable part number. It is best to avoid going to specific manufacturer websites and catalogues strictly from a time and efficiency standpoint. Why jump from site to site searching when the focus can be better spent on the critical tasks at hand?

A bearing library that quickly interchanges the AFBMA part numbers should provide a comprehensive comparison of the manufacturer data for that part number including the vibration fault frequencies. This provides standardization for the analyst to navigate, compare and interpret the data.

AFBMA part numbers can be quite long as they identify the many features of the bearing. Often this is frustrating for the analyst as they cannot find an exact match on the part number when looking for interchange/vibration data. The extraneous characters that are part of the suffix of the AFBMA part number relate to bearing characteristics that DO NOT change the vibration values. When searching the bearing library, focus on the root number. For example, 95BC02JEEG00X represents a 95mm bore, BC- ball bearing single row, 02- light duty series. The rest of the part number identifies characteristics of bearing such as seals, shields, snap ring, grease etc. These configuration characteristics do not change the vibration values for the 95BC02 AFBMA bearing. If there is not an exact match on the entire AFBMA number, select the closest match when searching to find the manufacturer vibration data. This part number selection will have the same vibration metrics if the root number (type/size ie. 95BC02) match as indicated above.  Understanding the AFBMA nomenclature will assist in quickly locating and identifying the vibration fault frequencies.

There are resources available to cross-referencing the AFBMA numbers. We have discussed a few of the most common; manufacturer websites and bearing libraries. Using manufacturer websites is time consuming and depending on the site can require additional data for the bearing in question. Usually, the analyst will be required to visit multiple manufacturer sites to secure the necessary bearing data. This process wastes valuable time and ultimately costs money in manpower and downtime and delaying finding a solution to the critical task at hand. It is the least effective way to evaluate the bearing data for all manufacturers in totality. It should be noted that it is not uncommon today to only find more current bearing part numbers on manufacturer specific websites which will limit or prevent entirely the analyst’s success to accessing to the bearing data required.

The most comprehensive bearing library available for cross referencing AFBMA part numbers is The Bearing Expert by International Source Index, Inc. Analysts can enter the AFBMA part number and view a list of manufacturer part number interchanges as well as a list of vibration fault frequencies for all manufacturers for a single part number search. This allows for a quick comparison of the manufacturer data. The Bearing Expert also includes obsolete AFBMA part numbers that are no longer in use but still in circulation. For analysts beginning their maintenance and reliability careers, The Bearing Expert is an excellent tool that will help them to understand the nomenclature and the interchanges from one manufacturer to another and to the AFBMA part numbers.

AFBMA part numbers are still widely used in the industry. Understanding where to find them and how they relate to manufacturer part numbers will provide the analyst with vibration fault frequencies they need to solve critical tasks quickly and easily.