Bearings play a critical role in the functionality of many types of machines. However, because well-maintained bearings operate smoothly and silently, you may forget they’re there.
Of course, all mechanical components experience wear and tear. And when bearings go bad, you become very aware of them! Unfortunately, at the point that they “alert you” to their declining status, they may have been causing poor machine performance for some time.
Even more concerning is that if bearings seize up, they can cause personal injuries and extensive, costly damage to the machine. That’s why you must pay attention to the bearings in your machines and arrange for regular bearing inspections to keep them from failing.
3 Common Causes of Bearing Failures
To optimize bearing performance and maximize lifespan, you’ve got to understand the causes of bearing failures. The three most common reasons for bearing degradation and failure are:
- Improper lubrication. Bearings are designed with smooth surfaces so that they glide over one another. But to keep friction to a minimum, you must lubricate them. If you fail to add enough lubricant or replenish/replace the lubricant as it degrades, you expose the bearings to additional stress, which can cause them to fail. The same is true if you use the wrong lubricant.
- Corrosion. If you don’t maintain your bearings properly and expose them to certain chemical compounds or other substances, their smooth surface can rust and become rough.
- Contamination. Dirt, debris, and even water in a bearing system can damage bearings and accelerate their degradation.
If you allow any of these issues to affect the bearings in your machines, the repercussions can be sudden and severe.
Consequences of Bearing Failures
It’s vital for company owners and decision-makers to consider the negative ripple effect that bearing failures can have on a business. Typically, failing to care for bearings properly leads to issues like:
- Machine downtime and idle workers
- Equipment damage and repair costs
- Missed deadlines
- Frustrated customers and lost business opportunities
- Increased risk of employee injuries
In addition to the cost of repairing damaged equipment, bearing failure often requires that you replace the bearings themselves—which can be very expensive.
To avoid the ear-splitting screech and grind of failed bearings and the knowledge that you could have prevented it, you’ve got to be proactive about equipment and product inspections.
7 Signs You Need a Professional Bearing Inspection
Scheduling regular inspections from a mechanical engineer is the best way to avoid bearing failures.
If you choose not to do that, you should, at a minimum, educate your employees about these seven signs that you need a more in-depth, professional bearing inspection:
- Contaminated lubricant
- Burnt/blackened grease and other signs of excessive heat
- Hardening of the bearing grease
- Oil or grease escaping the bearing housing
- Fluting damage that appears as a washboard pattern
- Unusual or increased noise or vibration coming from the machine
- Unusual or increased heat radiating from the machine
If you notice any of these signs, you should contact an industrial contractor in Florida.
Schedule an Inspection With Coker
To keep your bearings functioning correctly and your machines running smoothly, you should establish a relationship with a mechanical contractor in Florida. Our team members have deep expertise in many areas of mechanical contracting, including supporting and maintaining mechanical systems with bearing inspections. They can be a valuable resource for you.
Learn more about our services and find out how we can help your business operate more effectively. Contact Coker today.