Indicators of Bigger Issues

Bearings are among the most critical components for the safe and reliable operation of rotating machinery. While fluid film bearings are designed for infinite life under design conditions, they are also designed to be a sacrificial component in case of upset conditions. Therefore, any issues with the machine will likely manifest at the bearings.

Bearing corrosion
Babbitt fatigue on motor opposite drive end

Finding the Cause

Bearing failure analysis helps pinpoint the cause and mode of failure in order to eliminate or otherwise address it, and thus maximize machine uptime. The analysis process will typically include:

  • Visual examination of the failed component, as well as any specific conditions found upon disassembly
  • Laboratory analysis of oil samples and/or any embedded particles
  • Evaluation of operating data, such as vibration levels, oil outlet and bearing temperatures, and pressures
  • Review of any relevant incident that may have preceded the failure
  • Review of any history of failures, recent modifications or change in operating conditions
  • Sequence of events leading to the failure

Frequently, more than one factor combines to result in a failure, and a complete picture of the operating conditions and background can help identify the issue(s).

Common Types of Failure Analyzed

Analytical Tools

  • Metallurgical analysis of babbitted pads and bearing shells
  • Experimental and analytical stress analysis of bearing components
  • Macroscopic and microscopic analysis and micrographs of sectioned bearing parts
  • Analysis of thrust bearing stresses and loads at static and misalignment conditions
  • Vibration analysis and calculation of the static and dynamic loads on the bearings
  • Analysis of power loss, heat generation and lubricant flow requirements
  • Inspection and analysis of bearing assembly and interference fits (taking into account both the housing and the bearing shell flexibility)
  • Testing of radial and thrust bearings for a wide range of sizes and speeds
  • Testing to measure power loss, bearing metal temperatures, oil inlet and outlet temperatures, stiffness and damping coefficients at various speeds and loading conditions
  • Testing in oil, water and other fluids to simulate actual lubricant conditions, especially for process-lubricated bearings

Bearing Repairs

Bearings Plus provides complete replacements, repair and rebabbitting for tilt pad and fixed profile bearings, all backed by robust quality inspections.