How to Prevent Bearing Failures

Emerson's Brian Overton


Rotary bearings for industrial machinery reduce to friction between the moving parts. As with other mechanical parts, they wear over time.

Plant Services: 6 steps to preventing bearing failureIn a Plant Services article, 6 steps to preventing bearing failure, Emerson’s Brian Overton shares ways to extend bearing life and avoid unplanned shutdowns.

He opens highlighting their importance.

Without effective bearing motion, a machine shaft can fail, and the machine can break down.

His 6 steps include:

  1. Choose the correct bearing design
  2. Store bearings actively
  3. Install bearings properly
  4. Lubricate bearings according to manufacturers’ guidelines
  5. Align machinery precisely
  6. Balance equipment well

Bearings should match the design and load requirements as defined by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). If not sized correctly:

…you’ll risk premature wear and eventual failure of the bearing.

Spare bearings should not just sit on a shelf until needed. They:

…should be stored actively – in other words, they should be rotated or spun occasionally. Without occasional rotation, they can experience false brinelling, in which bearings etch a pattern into the raceways because of vibration.

From an installation perspective, avoid forcing the bearing into place and use other means such as heat to expand the metal. Once in place:

…give the bearings a good flushing and cleaning out with lubricant.

Ongoing bearing lubrication should be performed per the OEM recommendation. Too much or too little lubricant can reduce lifespan. Diagnostics such as PeakVue technology:

…can monitor lubrication conditions by monitoring stress waves, which are created by friction… When improperly lubricated, a rolling element in a bearing might cause the inner or outer race to deflect and spring back, creating a stress wave. New technology can parse out the frequencies to see the stress wave, leading to the early detection and elimination of bearing anomalies.

Read the article for more on proper equipment alignment and balancing and their role in extending bearing life, as well as more diagnostic tests to perform root cause analysis for persistent bearing issues.

Also, join us at the October 1-5 Emerson Exchange conference in San Antonio, Texas, for several excellent machinery monitoring and protection sessions including:

Posted Thursday, September 13th, 2018 under Asset Optimization.