A bearing has an unpredictable lifespan due to a complex set of factors.
SKF confirms that bearing lifespan can be a random even when bearings are operating under same conditions.
So what to do now? If the bearing application and design is correct, we cannot determine the life of the bearing. IDCON suggests focusing the on essential care of the bearing and the equipment it is used within.
Let’s imagine that you have a large centrifugal pump. You can preserve the life of the bearings by:
- Using the correct bearing specification according to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
- Store the bearing correctly
- Mount the bearing correctly
- Make sure that the shaft and bearing housings have the correct tolerance
- Operate the equipment within its limits to avoid overload and cavitation
- Align the shafts and couplings within
- Balance impeller to avoid vibration
- Select and use the correct lubricant/oil
- Make sure that the oil is clean and avoid moisture, chemicals and contaminants
- Make sure that the oil is not breaking down and keeps properties and additives
- Prevent overheating of the pump
If we implement procedures to preserve the conditions of the bearings we have maximised the bearing’s life and reliability.
Now we need to figure out what procedures are needed when the bearing begins to fail and its condition deteriorates. Predicting when the bearing is failing is not extending the life of the bearing but it gives you time plan and schedule downtime when it impacts the operations the least.
Based on the criticality and industry, you could use the condition monitoring standards (CMS by IDCON) or failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) and reliability centred maintenance (RCM) to determine the condition monitoring procedure.