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How to extend the life and performance of rolling bearings

First and foremost, lubrication is key to choosing the right lubrication system and a high quality lubricant. The lubricating film separates the oil film surfaces that come into contact with each other as a result of load carrying and provides the necessary protection against corrosion and wear, making it essential for all rotating or reciprocating moving parts, especially rolling bearings and gears, if they are to function properly. In the case of splash lubrication or recirculating lubrication systems, the oil film also transfers heat. Plants often suffer from unnecessary downtime and deterioration of equipment due to improper lubrication. Inadequate oil supply leads to increased wear and temperature rise, resulting in excessive wear and/or early failure and damage to rolling bearings. Excessive lubrication, especially in equipment operating at high speeds, will generate excessive heat due to oil churning and chemical deterioration of the lubricant, which can also lead to rolling bearing damage. 

Correct lubrication and regular maintenance can avoid damage to rolling bearings caused by lubrication problems. Ensuring proper lubrication should be done by

follow the operating instructions set by the equipment manufacturer for each piece of equipment; 

when adding grease, it should be filled between the rolling parts of the rolling bearing and the housing (or retaining ring) to ensure that a sufficient amount of grease enters and that critical raceway surfaces are adequately lubricated; 

attention should be paid to when rolling bearings should be greased; 

monitoring the equipment's indicator gauges to detect early signs of problems, such as temperature fluctuations and/or abnormally high temperatures; 

attention to equipment noise or abnormal vibrations; 

observing lubricant leaks; 

taking regular samples of the lubricant and looking for contamination. 

Secondly, if you need to improve the performance of rolling bearings, it is important that they are properly adjusted. When assembling or mounting, if the internal clearance of a rolling bearing is too large or too small, or in some cases the preload is too high, early damage and shortened rolling bearing life may result. In addition to causing downtime and costly repairs, improper assembly and mounting of rolling bearings may have further negative effects, such as affecting the operation of other components and shortening their service life.

Assembly, mounting and regular maintenance in accordance with the equipment manufacturer's operating instructions are the best way to prevent problems arising. If time is of the essence, tapered rolling bearing sets that are too loose can be corrected by pushing the adjusting device forward or removing the shims. On the other hand, an excessively tight adjustment of the rolling bearing may lead to overheating damage and the rolling bearing having to be replaced. The process of assembling and mounting the rolling bearings must be accurate, repeatable and verifiable after the mounting has been completed. Other component parameters must also be taken into account to optimise system performance.

In addition, it is important to use the equipment in accordance with the OEM's requirements and to set up suitable predictive maintenance programmes such as monitoring of the lubricant or grease, which should include a root cause analysis. In this way, the uptime of even faulty equipment can be significantly extended.

Correct lubrication and maintenance is essential, as is correct installation and use, making full use of existing condition monitoring equipment. Failure to follow installation and maintenance requirements will result in equipment failure and pose a major safety hazard.

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