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Bearing failures can be expensive, disruptive and in some cases dangerous, but did you know that the three most common causes of bearing failure can be avoided before the bearing is even operational?

Here are the three top causes of bearing failure, and how to avoid them:

Bearing type – the bearing you have chosen doesn’t suit the application

The number one cause of bearing failure is using the wrong bearing to begin with – something that is easy to do without the right specialist insight.

There are plain bearings, ball bearings, roller bearings and needle bearings to name just a few, and each of these product groups have many variations within them; for example, plain bearings can be sintered, wrapped, plastic, composite or machined from various solid materials. Ball, roller and needle bearings can be offered in numerous configurations.

Often, when customers come to me they understand what their bearings need to do and the parameters in which the bearing must operate – the load, speed and environmental requirements  – but they don’t always know what type of bearing can deliver those capabilities most effectively, and importantly, cost efficiently. 

This will influence not just the cost of the initial purchase, but potentially other factors including the cost of ongoing maintenance, lifespan of the bearing and even how efficiently the equipment works. 

Material selection – the material you’re specifying isn’t best matched to your application

Plain bearings have long been manufactured in a broad range of materials – sintered bronze, sintered iron, rolled bronze, cast bronze, various plastics, various composites, stainless steel and other  materials such as BowMet®, which is made from the ToughMet® alloy. 

Ball, roller, and needle bearings can also be offered in high carbon chrome steel, stainless steel,  ceramic and many other materials. 

Add to this the constant innovation in material science and it’s easy to see why we often see customers who are using the correct type of bearing, but not the correct material.

Lubrication – you can’t (or aren’t?) maintaining your bearings correctly

Bearing lubrication is an ongoing commitment to optimise machine performance and component lifespan, but many end users struggle to commit to a regular, adequate, lubrication schedule.

In some sectors, like marine for example, it is either difficult, cost-prohibitive, or impossible to service bearings because of the environment in which they are operated. In others such as agriculture or construction, time-poor farmers or plant operatives simply will not take the time to keep bearings adequately lubricated. 

If either of these scenarios describe you, or your application, then understanding what maintenance-free or low-maintenance options are available to you can prevent inevitable bearing failure.

One simple solution

Avoiding these three common pitfalls is easy. By working with a whole-market manufacturer or supplier that offers a wide range of bearing types and a consultative approach, you will have access to experts that can guide you on best practice bearing specification.

If your supplier’s product portfolio is unrestricted, you can rest assured you’re getting the right bearing for the job, and not  just the type that they manufacture or stock

Whether it’s a change in bearing type, bearing material or a switch to a lubrication-free solution, a consultative approach to bearing specification is a sure-fire way to prevent downtime. 

If you haven’t considered alternative bearing solutions for some time, why not check you are using the right option for your application? There may be newer solutions that could minimise downtime and save you money. For support DM me or call +44 (0)1235 462 500.