Plant & Works Engineering
Maximising bearing service life
Published:  11 December, 2015

Although every bearing has a pre-calculated service life, research has shown that two thirds fall short of their potential lifecycle. Peter Townsend, product manager bearings at ERIKS, offers a ten point plan to help customers get the most from their bearings.

1. Select the correct bearing

Choosing the right bearing at the design stage is critical to the safe, consistent and efficient running of your machine. It’s therefore important to consider all the operating parameters such as space, speed, load direction as well as material, lubrication and shock-load.

2. Make sure you get what you paid for

Counterfeit bearings are unfortunately on the rise here in the UK, making it more important than ever to deal with authorised sources in the purchasing stage. Counterfeit bearing can be difficult to spot but the implications can be extensive as a resulting in catastrophic failure; costing businesses money.

3. Store them correctly

Remember to keep bearings in their original and unopened package until mounting, to help prevent corrosion and the ingress of contaminants. Also beware of the shelf-life of pre-greased bearings which can range from 3-5 years. Your supplier will be able to advise you on this if you are unsure.

4. Prepare

When removing the existing bearings take care, as any damage to components can significantly delay the fitting and, the performance of the new ones. Also check that you have the right equipment to hand and select the correct fitting method, before you begin.

5. Fix and align

Sixteen per cent of premature failures are as a result of incorrect fittings and damage from hammer blows for example can ruin the bearings, before they even run. Adhere to correct fitting practices and you can help to extend the bearing’s service life and reduce costs over time.

6. Seal

A correct seal can reduce premature failures by 14%. Even a tiny amount of contamination can adversely affect the operating life of a bearing which is why adequate sealing arrangements are key. Speak to your supplier for advice.

7. Maintain

Despite the availability of ‘sealed for life’ bearings, 36% of premature bearing failures occur as a result of incorrect specification and the inadequate application of lubricant. Getting the right lubricant, in the right quantity and at the correct interval levels is therefore essential.

8. Monitor

Regular interval checks for bearing are ideal, even if it’s just visual, temperature and noise checks. Condition monitoring techniques such as vibration analysis can also be used to determine bearing status, enabling companies to address any issues early on and before any downtime occurs.

9. Replacement

No matter how much you care for your bearings, they will need to be replaced at some point or another and condition monitoring can help you to plan for that replacement. That means you can plan for the right people, components and tools to be available when you need them.

10. Upgrade

When it comes to replacement, don’t just settle for like-for-like replacements; consider upgrades to sealing, materials or different fittings - all of which can help you improve performance further.

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