By Ryan Holman
Edited by Mike Santora
It is a basic requirement of any industry that all its machines work properly and are reliable. A machine has many moving parts which help in performing the work it is designated to do. For a smooth functioning of these moving parts, it is important that bearings are properly maintained.
Bearing failure can result in downtime and is a blow to operational efficiency. Following are the major reasons behind a bearing failure:
1. Improper installation and Handling: As soon as the bearing arrives, proper care must be taken. From storage to installation, proper care in the handling of the bearing is necessary. It can happen that scratches and nicks have occurred in the bearing before it is even installed. It is imperative that proper storage techniques are employed once the bearing is brought in for installation. As a general rule, do not remove the original package from the bearing unless it is necessary. As soon as it is removed apply an anti-corrosive wrapping to the bearing.
During installation, cleanliness must be kept in mind. The anti-corrosives and the lubrication must be clean as well. Technicians should use clean tools during the installation process. Improper handling of tools and wrong installation technique can cause small fractures in the bearings. It will also cause vibrations in the machine which can reduce the life of other machine parts as well.
2. Poor Lubrication: Lubrication is one of the most important factors in the maintenance of the bearing. Always reference manufacturer specifications for lubrication type, grade, viscosity and additives. Manufacturers will also specify the amount of lubrication to be used and longevity expectations.
A technician must closely follow the recommendations and use the lubricants in the right amount. It should be stored in a place such that dust and dirt do not contaminate the lubricant.
3. Overheating of the bearing: Overheating can be caused because of improper lubrication, leading to bearing damage. It can alter the viscosity of the lubricant which can change the path of its flow. Overheating reduces the life of the bearing.
A technician must be careful about the functioning of the bearing. He must know the symptoms that are related to troubles in the bearing. He must notice the following in order to take proper care of the bearing:
Discoloration of the bearing: If there is a metal-to-metal contact, discoloration will be visible. This is a clear sign that lubrication is an issue in the bearing.
Scoring and peeling: Peeling or a cut in the metal indicates that there is a severe issue in lubrication and this should be addressed urgently.
Localized scoring: If there is a breakdown of lubrication film, the components will come into direct contact with each other, this results in localized scoring.
Cumulative wear: The bearing can lock-up and cause significant damage not just to the bearing, but also to the machine.
A technician should always be careful and make sure that these symptoms are detected at the early stage.