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Advanced Gearbox Maintenance Advice


Industrial gearboxes will usually be quite hardy machine parts, though of course the design and quality of the build will vary among the many different gearbox manufacturers.

Some gearboxes are designed specifically with longevity in mind, sacrificing a little performance in order to produce a longer lifespan than might otherwise be expected of other types of geared motor unit. Then there the models that have been deigned to maximise performance which can leave them more vulnerable to wear and tear. Both types serve their purpose according to the application’s needs, as well as those gearbox designs that try to strike a fine balance between long lifespan and peak performance,

Whatever type of gearbox is in use, there are plenty of general gearbox maintenance tips and tricks to help the operator maximise the gearboxes’ longevity. For most gearbox designs, their lifespan will be directly related to how much care and maintenance they receive during operation and during any rest periods. Without due care and maintenance, even the hardiest gearboxes will suffer downtime while requiring a gearbox repair service. Such downtime is bad news for a business’ productivity and output, so keeping a checklist of all the small and helpful ways a gearbox can be kept in good operational condition is crucial.

There are also a few more advanced ways to ensure your gearboxes and geared motor unit are running at full capacity at all times.

Understand Backlash and Shaft Movement

When backlash from a gearbox’s operation increases, it is often an indicator of wear and tear, most probably in the gear teeth. If you monitor and understand the changes in backlash, you may be able to identify a potential problem before it causes serious damage.

Also check the input and output shafts to see if either are lifting or moving unusually, as this will probably be due to  damage of the bearings or the housing of the bearings. To stay informed of all backlash increase and shaft movements, regularly use a dial indicator which will reveal any changes.

Monitor Internal Gear Wear and Contact Points

Regularly remove all inspection covers to monitor the condition of internal gears, or make use of a tool such as an endoscope if the machinery doesn’t have removable covers or has otherwise inaccessible gears.

Once you have eyes on the internal gears, look for any pitting (damage to the gear teeth) and spalling (flecks of material ground off of the gear teeth flanks or other contact points). Use a product like Engineer’s Blue to check the alignment of gear teeth contacts.

Analysis of Impacts and Vibrations

A lot of gearboxes and geared motor units will be surrounded by other machinery while in operation, thus it may not be possible to record and analyse the fluctuating sounds made by one particular geared motor unit. However, the variations in a gearbox’s performance can still be monitored via the vibrations it produces and the impacts its operations create.

Any changes in the natural or normal vibrations produced by the gears and internal bearings will be a strong indicator that all is not well. Usually when this problem is discovered by vibration analysis, there will be plenty of time to run a full inspection to identify and resolve the issue.

If you require any gearbox repair services then contact YB Components who are the UK’s leading suppliers of gearboxes manufactured by the world’s leading brands. We also offer a gearbox repair service which begins with a full inspection and assessment report, completely free of charge.