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When Bearings Go Bad: Failure Analyses Investigations

March 20, 2015 by Christine Berlly

Profile_Analyzer-Closeup-Taylor_Hobson_Form_Talysurf_50-at_AST_BearingsWhen a bearing fails prematurely, an experienced engineer can often reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to the problem in a failure analyses report.

Utilizing the resources of our bearing engineering laboratory, metrology lab and tool room, AST engineers welcome the opportunity to analyze bearings for our customers, and in most cases have the ability to determine the root cause of a failure and recommend actions to be taken to prevent future failures. While most analysis work is conducted after bearing failure, conducting an analysis prior to failure can help identify actual operating conditions and failure modes before key evidence is destroyed. A post service analysis conducted on bearings that have seen extensive field service can be extremely informative in improving product performance and reducing costs.

To perform a failure analysis, AST suggest that customers return bearings as they were found at the time of failure, or when operation ceased. They should still be mounted in the equipment, or device, if practical. AST’s engineers can then make visual observations and determine the best method to disassemble the bearings so as not cause further damage or destroy evidence. In addition, a complete application history of the equipment and bearings should be provided, including loads, speeds, operating environment and handling or use information.

AST’s engineers have been compiling data from our failure analysis for the past 25 years. The most common causes of premature bearing failure are fatigue, improper lubrication, contamination, and improper handling or installation techniques. When our tribologists determine the cause of a failure, we then work with our customers to implement changes and provide a variety of solutions to increase life or eliminate intermittent failures. Through this process AST will not only initiate design changes when appropriate, our bearing specialists also conduct training seminars for personnel handling or installing bearings.

For more information about bearing failure analysis, as well as some common (misalignment, contamination, electric arcing and more) visit AST’s webpage on the topic, which can be found here.

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