Nothing can be more frustrating than experiencing spindle bearing failure when you’re in the middle of an important work order. If your spindle bearing fails, then you must contend with downtime. Any downtime means that your machine operators aren’t working and, therefore, aren’t able to get orders completed. Ultimately, you’re losing money in the process, which you don’t want to happen. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent spindle bearing failure to keep production going without any unnecessary interruptions. Here is an overview that can help you decrease your chances of experiencing spindle bearing malfunction to keep your business up and running as it should be.
The Most Common Causes of Spindle Bearing Failure
There are many possible causes of a spindle bearing failing, and here are just a few of the most common causes:
- Hard and damaging work material – Sometimes, the material you’re running through a machine is simply too hard or oddly shaped, which could harm the spindle bearing. Harder materials sometimes require special techniques and tools, so it’s important to determine what you need before running it through the machine.
- Improper management and/or storage – Spindle bearings are delicate and must be handled carefully. Dropping them, handling them roughly, or failing to store them properly can all cause your spindle bearing to malfunction.
- A faulty drawbar mechanism – A faulty drawbar or other internal mechanisms could also cause the spindle bearing to fail.
- Improper tools – You must ensure that all the tools you use on your machine work together. Your spindle bearing must be paired with tools that cut and perform properly, and pairing spindle bearings with improper tools is a common reason for the failure of this essential part.
Preventing Spindle Bearing Failure
Preventing spindle bearing failure from occurring is easier than you may believe. By practicing preventative measures regularly, you can dramatically decrease your chances of experiencing spindle failure. Here are some smart ways to keep your spindle bearing in tip-top condition for as long as possible:
- Properly maintain the spindle bearing – By creating and adhering to a maintenance schedule, you can prevent frustrating failures from happening. Maintenance should include thoroughly inspecting the spindle bearing and surrounding parts, thoroughly cleaning this important part, and adding adequate lubrication to the bearing.
- Use the correct lubricant – The wrong type of lubrication can contribute to spindle-bearing breakdowns, so be sure to use the lubrication intended for your specific parts.
- Avoid contamination – Airborne debris when using compressed air, tainted or improper lubrication, and poor installation, in addition to other issues, can cause contamination, which leads to the failure of your spindle bearing.
- Be mindful of belt tension – Improper belt tension can cause unreasonable amounts of pressure on the bearing, resulting in malfunction.
- Ensure adequate alignment – Bearings that aren’t aligned properly before use can fail, so be sure to properly install the spindle bearing as well as the other components.
- Provide proper storage – Properly storing your bearings when not in use is essential. Regularly rotating bearings that are in storage is also important, as it prevents them from becoming misshapen, which could also lead to failure. It’s also important to maintain a constant temperature that doesn’t go below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above 120 degrees.
- Practice the correct machine warm-up and cool-down – Every machine is different and has instructions for warming it up and cooling it down before and after use. You and your team must adhere to these instructions for all machines because failing to adequately warm up a machine before use could cause internal issues, resulting in spindle bearing failure.
- Don’t hurry the process – It’s important to refrain from trying to push materials through the machine too quickly. Machines are equipped to go a certain speed, and trying to force the process will cause problems with the spindle bearing as well as other parts.
The Cost of Replacing a Spindle Bearing
Spindles last an average of about 10–15 years under normal use. However, if your team is not properly maintaining the spindles and other important parts, this average length of time can decrease substantially. Failing to adequately maintain your spindle bearing could require you to replace this important part well before the 10-year mark. Replacing spindles alone can be quite expensive and sometimes cost thousands of dollars. If other components of the machine have failed as well, replacing everything could quickly increase the overall costs. This is why maintenance is the key to ensuring the longevity of your entire machine, including the spindle bearings and other parts.
Repairing a Spindle Bearing
Sometimes, a failed spindle bearing isn’t broken beyond repair, and an experienced technician can fix it. Here is the simplified version of the process necessary for repairing one. There are many more steps, but this gives you an idea of what’s involved:
Step 1 – The parts must be disassembled
Step 2 – The disassembled parts must then be inspected
Step 3 – The parts must be machined, put through a grinding process, and then balanced
Step 4 – The parts are then ready to be reassembled
Step 5 – The spindle bearing must be inspected again as well as tested
As you can see, it’s a lot more cost-effective to prevent spindle failure as opposed to dealing with the aftermath of spindle-bearing failure. It is common to become so busy that you forget to maintain your spindle bearing and other components that are important to the functionality of your machine. However, you must ensure that you have a detailed maintenance schedule because as long as you and your team practice these preventative measures, your spindle bearing should work at optimal levels for as long as possible.