The proper care and operation of electric motors depend on how well you protect your motor bearings from poor lubrication and excess vibration. Here are a few of the ways you can keep your bearings in tip top shape and prevent unplanned downtime due to bearing failure as a result of these two problems.
Lack of lubrication is the number one cause for bearing damage and failure. This can be caused by a number of different reasons.
The first being that you failed to provide adequate lubrication in the first place, used the wrong kind of lubricant for this specific bearing, or used a combination of two different greases that are not compatible with one and other. For example, mixing a lithium-based grease and a polyurea-based grease causes the oil within them to leach away far faster than normal and leaves the bearing unprotected. Make sure that your lubricants and grease are compatible with each other if you are using them together.
The old adage, if you hear the motor making noise, it’s time to lubricate the bearing, is not accurate. If an electric motor gets to the point where it is making noise, it is too late. Wear and damage are already occurring. This is where an electric motor preventive maintenance program can help. Establishing a regular interval for lubricating bearings (whether you think they need lubrication or not) can increase the life of your electric motor simply by replenishing the lubricant that may have worn away or broken down during the use of the motor. Just because you can see the lubricant, doesn’t always mean that it is doing its job properly.
Vibration is the mortal enemy of bearings, and they need to be protected from it. If a motor is making more noise than typical, or there seems to be a noticeable vibration in the motor, then you need to investigate it. Using methods such as infrared thermographic studies or motor vibration analysis can quickly identify problem areas such as a defective or damaged part, and allow you to replace them before they cause any significant damage to the bearings.
You also need to protect electric motors in storage from vibration. Vibrations caused by heavy machinery and nearby motor or railroad traffic may damage bearings even while the motors are in storage. For more information on protecting electric motors in storage, check out this article: Proper Care and Storage of Rotating Machinery.
Tekwell Services provides superior electric motor service and repair as well as an excellent electric motor preventive maintenance program. Contact us for details by completing our online form on our Contact page or give us a call at 1-800-829-7454.