To maximize the operating life of your industrial gearboxes, regular inspections and maintenance are an essential aspect. That said, removing the gearbox for a full inspection can be a difficult task and can cause lengthy downtime. What’s the answer?
Here are our Top 10 tips to minimize downtime whilst ensuring your gearbox a long life.
Check the gearbox to ensure it is operating within its manufacture specification of both mechanical and thermal ratings. On many occasions, gearboxes are put into an application beyond their design specification and are being driven by increased input power than the maximum recommended, which will cause a breakdown, eventually.
Often times, gearboxes operate in dirty environments. While this is typically unavoidable, it’s important to minimize the effects of the workplace environment. This could result in an increased operating temperature of the gearbox or even possible contamination into the gearbox. Therefore, industrial gearboxes should be regularly cleaned.
3. Shaft Seals
Check for oil leaks at the input and output shaft of your gearbox. Leaks indicate the seals have failed, which can allow the ingestion of dust, debris and water from the environment, causing a loss of lubrication. This is catastrophic where your gearbox is concerned.
Water, dust and debris should not be permitted to be ingested into the gearbox through the breather. They should be of the correct type and style and kept clean at all times allowing the gearbox to breathe with ease.
Lubrication should be followed to the gearbox manufactures specification for type, grade and quantity. Regular maintenance should be carried out to the gearbox manufacturers recommendations with special attention to lubrication.
6. Temperature Check
Look for signs of overheating, discolored or burnt exterior paint or dark oil in the sight glass. Monitor the gearbox temperature on a regular basis observing for any sudden changes in temperature using an infrared temperature gun. If you don’t have this capability, find a gearbox repair specialist that does – ASAP!
7. Gear Wear / Contacts
Inspect the internal gears by removing the inspection covers or with the aid of an endoscope. Look for signs of wear and tear in the form of pitting and spalling (material from the surface of gear tooth flanks being removed). Be sure and check the contacts between gear teeth for misalignment, which could be indicative of wear with the bearings or bearing housings.
8. Backlash and Shaft End-play
Check for any increase in backlash between the mesh of the gears as well as any increase in the end-play or lift at the input and output shafts. An increase in backlash could be an indication of wear in gear teeth, which is not always visible to the naked eye. An increase in shaft end play or lift would indicate wear within the rolling elements of the bearings or even wear in the bearing housings.
9. Vibration Analysis
Many gearboxes operate in a noisy environment and on occasion, variation or increase in noise from a gearbox cannot always be recorded. Regular Vibration Analysis of the internal bearings and gears will confirm any significant changes in the condition of the internals of the gearbox and help prevent any unplanned loss of production.
10. Speak To A Specialist
Whether you need advice or support in inspecting / maintaining or repairing / replacing your gearbox, consult with experts who can guide you and determine whether or not your gearbox needs service or replacement.
At Progressive Machine Works, we specialize in gearbox service and repair and would be happy to provide you with a consultation to determine your needs. You can use the contact form, build-a-quote page or call or email us.