Machine bearings can easily experience unexpected failures, even with maintenance plans in place at a production facility. Bearings are selected by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for each application, together with the manufacturer’s designed life expectancy, keeping in mind fatigue failure. Only a handful of bearings can reach their complete designed life expectancy.

The major causes of bearing damage and failure include inadequate lubrication, overheating, contamination, corrosion, and inappropriate handling and installation. The unexpected collapse of bearings make industrial units pay for servicing and replacement of the bearings and bordering parts like housings and shafts that may also have sustained damage. Bearing malfunctions could result in decreasing a plant’s operating efficiency, increasing costly downtimes, increasing operational costs, and even injuring onsite workers.

To enhance the useful life of your machine bearings and their associated applications, it’s vital to know about potential bearing issues and how to stop them. The following are the top four reasons why machine bearings experience failure:

Improper Lubrication

As per one recent study, more or less 80 percent of machine bearing malfunctions are subjected to improper lubrication, including the use of low-quality lubricants, an insufficient amount of lube, or even increased temperatures, resulting in degradation of the lubricant.

Inspecting The Issue

Some of the ways to know your machine bearings are undergoing improper lubrication are to look for discolored (bluish or brownish) rolling elements and their tracks, overheating, or enhanced wear in the bearings.

Solving The Issue

Use the proper type and the right amount of lubricant, prevent grease loss, and follow adequate intervals of repeated lubrication process.

Overheating

Overheating of bearings generally occurs due to improper lubrication and excessive operating temperatures. High temperatures can make grease bleed (purge its oil), decreasing the overall efficiency of a lubricant. During elevated temperatures, oxidation can result in loss of lubricating oils from grease, leaving a crusty, dry soap that can seize the bearing. Overheating also decreases a metal’s hardness, resulting in early failure.

Inspecting The Issue

Observe potential discoloration of the rings, cages, and rolling elements. In adverse cases, rolling elements could also deform, which is easy to observe. Overheating can also cause degradation of the lubricant used.

Solving The Issue

Thermal controls, supplemental cooling, and adequate heat paths are some of the best options to deal with this problem.

Contamination

Contamination occurs when foreign particles get into bearing lubricants, including water, dust, dirt, abrasive grit, polluted steel chips, and dirt tools and hands.

Inspecting The Issue

Look for denting of rolling raceways and elements, causing vibration.

Solving The Issue

Use high-quality filters and filtration systems for filtration of lubricants and clean work areas, equipment, fixtures, and hands to decrease contamination risk.

Corrosion

Acid, moisture, low-quality oil, and poor wrappings from increased temperature reversals can lead to corrosion of a variety of finished surfaces of roller and ball bearings.

Inspecting The Issue

Observe brown and red stains or deposits present on rolling elements, cages, or raceways, and enhanced vibration accompanied by wear, loss of preload, or an increase in radial clearance.

Solving The Issue

Remove corrosive fluids from the bearing areas. Consider utilizing external seals in the presence of explicitly hostile environments. Using the appropriate bearing material, like stainless steel, can also be helpful in case you cannot prevent a corrosive atmosphere.

Micro-Lube is an expert oil filtration system and industrial lubricant supplier based in Edmonton. Visit our website to explore our quality products or contact us for a free quote.