10 simple steps for optimum gearbox performance
The gear industry is able to provide more innovative technology and services than ever before to help plant operators minimise downtime and get optimum performance from industrial gears.
There are 10 simple steps that Renold recommends as part of routine maintenance that will help to ensure plant engineers get the best performance and working life out of all industrial gearboxes:
- Make regular visual inspections of gearboxes. Look for oil leaks on the input and output shafts, and discolouration of the paint that might indicate overheating. Listen to the gearbox too if possible and check for excessive vibration. Some plant operators claim to know their gearboxes so well they can tell immediately when things aren’t right.
- Gearboxes very often have to operate in dirty, dusty environments. Try to keep them as clean as possible to avoid the potential ingress of contaminants into the unit and aid visual inspections. Dust and dirt covering a gearbox can also contribute to overheating so brush them clean regularly.
- Routine lubrication in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications is essential. Make sure you’re using the right lubricant with the correct additives for your application and consult the manufacturer or your distributor if there is any ambiguity.
- Monitor the gearbox temperature with an infrared gun and note any sudden changes that will almost certainly indicate a problem.
- Regular vibration analysis is particularly important in a noisy environment that would prevent it being heard. Monitor vibration of the bearings and internal gears. An increase in vibration is a sure sign of impending problems.
- Remove the inspection covers and examine the internal gears visually for signs of pitting or spiralling. Use engineers’ blue to check the contact pattern of the gear teeth. Misalignment would indicate worn bearings or housings.
- Check the breathers are of the correct type and are kept clean and free of debris at all times as much as possible. This is difficult on dirty applications, such as brick making or cement manufacture, but this only makes good housekeeping even more important.
- Check backlash and endplay using a dial indicator. An increase in backlash would indicate wear to the gear teeth and an increase in endplay would suggest bearing wear, or wear to the housings.
- Over time it’s possible the demands on the gearbox have changed since it was originally specified. Check the gearbox ratings and ensure that it is operating within the manufacturer’s specifications and power input.
- Work in partnership with Renold to provide a full range of gearbox servicing, refurbishment and replacement services. Working in partnership with experts and by implementing an effective gearbox maintenance program it’s possible to almost eliminate unscheduled downtime and significantly reduce maintenance costs.
It’s always worth remembering that planned maintenance can be budgeted for but gearbox failure and the resulting cost of downtime can’t. Best practice in modern manufacturing is about reducing maintenance, cutting downtime and having a plan in place with a gearbox supplier to provide a fast response solution for every critical unit in a plant if the worst was to happen.
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