In the hustle and bustle of a fixed plant environment where all senses are fully impacted by humming and crushing machinery you could be well and truly forgiven for not noticing variations in your running plant. In particular, variations in your industrial gearboxes can easily become background subtleties in a busy workplace. Yet these variations can often be key topredicting when an industrial gearbox failure is imminent. So what 3 signs should you look out for to determine whether your gearbox is in trouble?
Here are 3 helpful checks to make to ensure that the health of your gearbox is not being compromised:
1. Noise Level Changes
This is a basic check that can be easily monitored by ear or more accurately using a noisedosimeter during daily inspection.
2. Vibration Level Anomalies
Vibration Analysis (VA) is the the single most important check to make and allows for preventative maintenance when managed correctly. It is highly recommended gearboxes get analysed when first installed then periodically checked to compare trend patterns.VA can detect alignment and balance issues, the catalysts for good bearing and gear life. Apart from inadequate lubrication; premature wear, cracking or catastrophically failed components often stem from poor alignment and/or imbalance.
3. Large Temperature Variance
The temperatures of bearings can be easily checked by using a portable hand held laser heat detection devise and comparing results, taking into account of ambient temps, and compared to previous checks taken.
The key in all the above is distinct variation from a Footprint Reading. Footprints of “acceptable” or “normal” noise, vibration and temperature levels are ascertained during the commissioning of the gearbox and when it is first run in its working environment and then using the same instruments at regular intervals to judge these. You should have a base idea of what is ‘normal’ during this time and what factors could possibly affect the normal functioning. For example, if the weather changes from 30 to 40 degrees celsius from one day to the next, you could expect a distinct rise in your temperature check of bearings without any harm necessarily being created.
What distinguishes ‘enough’ variation however? This is very subjective and comes down a lot to experience. A good rule of thumb, given that other changes in environmental factors have been taken into consideration, is that a difference of 25% which does not subside within a reasonable amount of time can be cause to investigate your industrial gearbox’s health more closely. If you feel your gearbox could be compromised, an in situ internal inspection can be undertaken as a preventative measure to breakdown.
For more information this subject, or to find out about gearbox failure analysis, feel free to contact us.