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The main causes of industrial machinery failure


When a piece of machinery fails it inevitably costs a company resources, time and money. Unfortunately machinery can fail for numerous reasons and pinpointing the cause is not always easy. Perhaps a Siraflex spring balancer has gone, a Sirem pump has failed or a Zurrer driver has ceased up? Whilst some causes of machine failure can be obscure and hard to detect, others are much more common.

Take a look at the following main causes of industrial machinery failure.


A piece of machinery being handled or operated in an incorrect manner can lead to internal parts becoming damaged and causing failure.

Equipment being dropped can also cause components such as Spaggiari gearboxes and Planox clutches to become dislodged or damaged, which would also cause the machinery to cease working properly.

Inadequate maintenance

As the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work advises, inadequate maintenance or a lack of maintenance can result in accidents occurring with machinery and equipment ultimately breaking down.

The Agency continues that sufficient maintenance of machinery includes, inspection, testing, measurement, replacement, adjustment, repair, upkeep, fault detection, replacement of parts, servicing, lubrication and cleaning.


Corrosion of vital industrial parts, such as Tschan couplings and Worm gearboxes, is one of the most common causes of equipment failing.

Corrosion of components can be especially problematic when the machinery is exposed to water contamination. As well as creating rust to form on the interior and exterior of the machine, water increases the speed at which oil oxidises, which ultimately leads to the part operating within an acidic environment.


According to Lifetume Reliability’s paper titled ‘Principle Causes of Failure in Machinery, “misalignment is universally recognised as the leading contributor to machinery failure.”

Principally due to the parasitic axial thrust, misalignment can significantly reduce the life of a bearing. Misalignment, continues the paper, exists when the centre lines of two neighbouring machines deviate from each other.

Bearing failure

Which brings us on to bearings. From Amt linear bearings to sferax linear bearings, if bearings fail so too can the equipment you are operating.

Premature bearing failure is most commonly caused by the contamination or loss of bearing lubricant. Although mechanical defects such as the unbalance of misalignment of bearings can also lead to bearings failing prematurely.

Metal fatigue

Another leading reason industrial machinery can fail and stop working is due to metal fatigue. Metal fatigue occurs when you attempt to cut wires without the use of tools. As the operator makes their way through the wire, the metal works harder to harder, creating fatigue.

When several cycles of such stress have occurred, the metal typically becomes brittle and snaps off.

To help prevent machinery failure and the stress and loss of earnings equipment breakdown typically creates, it is important to keep machinery and internal parts well lubricated, well maintained, have parts regularly replaced, keep it stored in an appropriate place and only operated by those trained to do so.

For quality and efficient industrial component repair services, get in touch with YB Components. What’s more, UK customers can benefit from our free gearbox inspection and report.