Top 10 Tips for Industrial Gearbox Inspection and Maintenance

Posted by  Mahesh Patel 13-Jul-2015 12:01:00

Mahesh has over 25 years experience in mechanical drives starting as an apprentice for WYKO

Gearbox-inspection-2To prolong the operating life of your industrial gearboxes regular gearbox inspections and maintenance is essential. On the other hand removal of the gearbox for a full inspection and a possible overhaul can cause undesirable lengthy downtime and breaks in shift work or production lines.

Here are our Top 10 tips to minimise downtime whilst ensuring your gearbox a long life.

1. Gearbox Ratings

Check the gearbox is operating within its manufactures specification of both mechanical and thermal ratings. On many occasions it can be seen gearboxes are put into an application beyond their design specification and are been driven by an increased input power than the maximum recommended.

2. Good housekeeping

May sound simple but often gearboxes are operate in a dirty dusty environment whilst this is usually unavoidable it is important to minimise the effects the workplace environment. This could result in an increased operating temperature of the gearbox or even possible contamination into the gearbox. Therefore industrial gearboxes should be regularly dusted and brushed clean.

3. Shaft Seals

Check for oil leaks at the input and output shaft of your gearbox. Leaks indicate the seals have failed, thus allowing ingression of dust, debris and water from the environment together with a loss of lubrication. These should be replaced without delay to prevent internal contamination of the gearbox or lack of lubrication to the internals.

4. Breathers

Water, dust and debris should not be permitted to ingress internally into the gearbox through the breather. They should be of the correct type and style and kept clean at all times allowing the gearbox to breathe with ease.

5. Lubrication

Lubrication should be adhered to the gearbox manufactures specification for type, grade and quantity. Regular renewal again should be carried out to the gearbox manufacturers recommendations. 

6. Temperature (Overheating)

Look for signs of overheating, discoloured or burnt exterior paint or dark oil in the sight glass. Monitor the gearbox temperature on a regular basis observing for any sudden changes in temperature using an infrared temperature gun.

7. Gear Wear / Contacts

Inspect the internal gears via the removal of inspection covers or with the aid of an endoscope. Look for signs of wear in the form of pitting and spalling (material from the surface of gear tooth flanks being removed). Check contacts between gear teeth for misalignment using engineers blue which could be indicative of wear in bearings or the bearing housings.

8. Backlash and Shaft Endplay

Using a dial indicator check for any increase in backlash between the mesh of the gears also for any increase in the end play or lift at the input and output shafts. An in increase in backlash could be an indication of wear in gear teeth which is not always visible to the naked eye. An increase in shaft end play or lift would indicate wear within the rolling elements of the bearings or even wear in the bearing housings.

9. Vibration Analysis

Many gearboxes operate in a noisy environment therefore on occasion’s variation or increase in noise from a gearbox cannot always be recorded. Regular Vibration Analysis of the internal bearings and gears will confirm any significant changes in the condition of the internals of the gearbox and help prevent any unplanned loss of production.

10. Speak to the Specialist

Whether to need advice or support in inspecting / maintaining or repairing / replacing your gearbox bring in the experts who can guide you and help you in ensuring you in having trouble free gearbox site.


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Topics: News, Best Practice, Power Transmission, Gearboxes

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