Reliability Program Maximizes Gearbox Life
Gearboxes are used in nearly every industry and manufacturing facility. Within a typical gearbox is a gear, a shaft and a bearing, which together transmit power. Although enclosed gearboxes are categorized as either automotive or industrial, most of the information on this page pertains to industrial gearbox lubrication.
The number one cause of failure in any mechanical application is contamination. Industrial plants make sizeable investments in their equipment as well as the lubricants that protect the equipment. Therefore, it makes sense to protect these assets. To do that, we recommend putting in place a good lubrication reliability program to ensure the correct lubricants are used and to prevent contamination. This will protect the equipment and the lubricant, which in turn will eliminate or greatly reduce unscheduled downtime and increase the bottom line.
Some of the common suffering points for gearbox applications are oil foaming, overheating, and emulsification. All of these are caused or aggravated by use of the wrong oil for the application and by contaminant ingression. You can solve these suffering points by implementing the following six lubrication reliability best practices for gearboxes.
Gearboxes Best Practices
- 1. Install desiccant breather
- 2. Install sight glass
- 3. Select and use the right high-performance gear oil for the application
- 4. Implement oil analysis
- 5. Filter to 17/16/13 cleanliness code
- 6. Implement color-coding & tagging
At LE, we implemented these six best practices on our own gearboxes. Prior to that, the LE maintenance team was changing the oil in our gearboxes every year, regardless of need, which was an expensive and time-consuming task. Since we implemented these six solutions several years ago, we have not changed our oil a single time, and we have had no lubrication-related downtime. In fact, the oil is nearly ageless, providing the same asset protection today as the day it was added.
By doing this, we significantly reduced our maintenance, repair and lubricant costs, and we freed up our maintenance team to engage in more proactive reliability activities. Read the full testimonial here.
Identify Suffering Points & Move Forward with Our Proven Solutions
Oil Foaming, Overheating & Emulsification
Some gear oils foam and lose performance in the presence of moisture. Likewise, some gear oils are not able to maintain film strength when subjected to heavy loads, air or high temperatures. For these reasons, inferior or incorrect gear oil can lead to unnecessary wear and unplanned downtime.
That’s why it is important to consider additional performance properties, not just the OEM-recommended viscosity and whether an EP package is needed. For example, other gear oil properties to consider are thermal stability, oxidation resistance, demulsibility, resistance to foaming, friction reduction, shear stability, tackiness, and film strength stability.
LE offers high-performance gear oils that will combat the effects of high temperatures, water, contaminants, and heavy loads. To choose the right one for your application, work with your local LE lubrication consultant.
Moisture and particulates in your lubricant and equipment can contribute to failure and the need for costly repairs. The problem starts when gearboxes, pumps, and reservoirs “breathe.” In other words, the problem starts when the air expands and contracts, and incoming fluid displaces air. Each time a unit breathes, it brings in debris and moisture. This in turn leads to lubricant and equipment damage. Particulates as small as three microns (the diameter of a single human hair is 40 microns) can cause machine abrasion, while water-contaminated oil eventually causes corrosion and rust.
To stop water and particulates from contaminating the lubricant in the first place, use Xclude™ desiccant breathers. From the time oil enters your facility to the end of its useful life, protecting it with breathers will extend the life of the oil and the equipment, decrease downtime, and provide significant cost savings. Desiccant breathers use filter media to remove particles and a desiccant to remove moisture from the air entering the oil.
The presence of solid particulates and water deteriorates the ability of the lubricant to properly protect the equipment. When lubricants become contaminated, it may be necessary to replace them. Many maintenance operators do these replacements on a routine interval-based approach.
Routinely filtering oil is a simple, proven, effective way to extend the life of the oil and to protect the equipment. As a result of understanding, achieving, and maintaining the right ISO cleanliness standard for your gearbox applications, you can extend the life of your oil by two to three times.
Lubrication Reliability Program
In conclusion, Lubrication Engineers can help put together a lubrication reliability program for your gearbox applications to help them last longer, subsequently eliminating downtime and reducing maintenance costs.