In this 6-part series we will discuss Gearbox Lubrication. Gearboxes are designed to provide many years/cycles of service with typically very limited maintenance requirements. Recent trends in equipment design require them to operate with increased power requirements, higher speeds and higher stress values that put an added emphasis on initial equipment set-up, maintaining operating conditions, and the quality and performance of the lubricant to ensure reliable operation. While incorrect operating temperatures, misalignment and resonant vibrations typically provide a slow path of component degradation, lubrication condition and lubricant contamination will lead to rapid and unnecessary wear generation and the eventual failure of the unit itself.
Powerful computer systems optimizing finite element analysis, logarithmic contact profiles of bearing roller and raceways and gearing sets have been combined with improved quality of materials and finish which has resulted in the reduction of gear size while increasing gearbox efficiency.
These changes are translated into higher power requirements, higher speeds, and higher stresses, all relying on the quality and performance of the lubricant. Lubricant suppliers continually meet the upcoming design changes of equipment by improving base stock quality and performance coupled with the addition of sophisticated new additive packages.
Fluid/Lubricant contamination and the subsequent loss of essential lubricating properties is the leading cause of premature failure of most gearboxes. Numerous documented studies have shown that efforts to maintain the properties of the lubricant while reducing contaminant levels will greatly increase the reliability and the service life of the components. This article provides an overview of the typical root causes of lubricant failure in gearboxes/reducers and the methods that will allow you to win the war against wear in the extension of equipment life.
Stay tuned for part 2…Lubrication