Basics: Part 4 - Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Bearings
If one third of all bearings fail prematurely due to lubrication issues and one-sixth due to contamination from air, water, cleanup / process chemicals or particulates, according to Waterworld, why do so many plant managers still neglect proper lubrication procedures and storage?
Bearings are the joints of the machine - they bear heavy loads and allow the movement of connecting parts. When they fail, movement is compromised, which can cause serious damage. Lubrication creates a barrier between the moving parts of the machine which reduces friction, minimizes wear and tear on moving parts, decreases the risk of particle contamination and helps maintain lower operating temperatures - keeping your machinery in optimum operating condition and extending its lifespan.
Here's some tips to extend the life of your bearings:
1. Choose the right lubrication for the application
The lubricant type must meet the requirements for which the grease will perform, such as high and low temperatures, load and pressure. Synthetic oils are preferable over a wider range of temperatures and conditions, according to Machinery lubrication, while mineral base oils can be used when temperature is constant.
The thickener is what holds the lubricant in place. The type of thickener chosen should be compatible with OEM recommendations and able to withstand normal operating conditions. Most thickeners should not be mixed (which is why correct storage and labelling is so important).
Lastly, know the viscosity of the lubricant. For most applications, viscosity should be ISO 460 or higher, however, you must take into consideration the speed and dimensions of the bearing.
2. Check moisture levels
Whether moisture occurs from condensation due to temperature fluctuations in storage or from exposure to ambient humidity, it can contaminate both base oil and synthetic oil. Moisture contamination can also make additives ineffective or cause a reaction with other additives to create excess sediment, hydrogen sulfides and other compounds according to a comprehensive study. This will lead to the pitting and particle contamination that will reduce bearing life over time.
With oxidation and the precipitation of some additives, water can cause lubricants to break down prematurely and even change the viscosity of an oil. Too much water can lower viscosity, which means the lubricant can no longer maintain the film to protect the bearings - eventually decreasing the load that bearings can support, leading to corrosion and pitting that eventually damages the machinery.
According to a study as far back as 1976, just 100 ppm water can cause a 32-48% decrease in bearing life, which is why routine moisture testing, whether visual or via oil analysis, is crucial. Other measures to reduce moisture contamination include using dessicant air-filter breathers on vents to reduce condensation, and training staff in proper cleanup and moisture management. Not only does this ensure that moisture levels remain in optimum operating range, but it also helps both operational and maintenance personnel to discover, correct and prevent moisture contamination problems before they cause costly or irreparable damage.
3. Prevent contamination through proper processes and procedures
If these tips to increase the life of your bearings seem complicated
and you just want someone to advise you on pump lubrication,
call our toll-free number on 1-800-367-4180. We have experts
on hand to help you with everything you need to know about pump
lubrication, from choosing the right type of lubrication to
filtering and storing it. And to answer all your questions about
things you've previously tried which have gone wrong.