Roller bearings are small components of a mechanical process calling for the combination of two parts with frictionless resistance. While cheap as a part, their failure can be the root cause of thousands in downtime.

This frictionless resistance (or, more so, friction-reduced resistance) is a critical part to ensuring infrastructure remains consistent with low assessments for damage. This is because, typically, a ball bearing or roller bearing will feature an inner ring with spinning parts and an outer ring connected to static features.

Unsurprisingly, these two contrasted components can lead to roller bearings and ball bearings to fail and break. Usually, these faults are down to issues such as corrosion, age, overloading or lubrication. However, it’s important to recognize symptoms for all aspects of a roller bearing’s failure in order to act accordingly and perform vital preventive, predictive and reactive maintenance to reduce costs and downtime.

This article features the eight most common causes of roller bearings failing as well as the reason behind these factors:

1. Lubrication Contamination

Protecting the bearing from contamination is key to securing persistent and smooth running and integration of lubrication. Without applying the proper lubrication practice, bearing failure can occur. If foreign bodies are introduced to the roller bearing or the roller bearing’s lubricant, you’ll need to filter the bearing.

Within the preventive and predictive maintenance strategies of care, it’s key to inspect for discoloration, incorrect lubricant usage, overheating, lubricant leaks, slowed operation, grooving in the racing and excessive wear in the bearing.

To identify this as an issue, you need to include a maintenance scheme looking for the use of hard-wearing seals, debris build-up around the bearing, the washing of hands and tools when handling the bearings, worn seals, using excessive amounts of grease and cracks or vibrations in the race ways of the bearing.

2. Corrosion

When bought, bearings are packed and sealed with an anti-corrosive material. But this begins to wear away after opening. Only when ready for installation should they be unwrapped, inspected and given a protective coat before being inserted into the mechanism. If they’re not ready for use, they need to be stored somewhere with 22°C and 60% humidity.

If a bearing has been exposed to dirt, dust, sand or other oils, it can corrode and cause rusting to form abrasive areas. This can severely impact output quality and will likely seize, resulting downtime and potential breakages to connecting parts.

To identify corrosion, look for red or brown rusting, vibrating bearings or reduced load capacity. Then, source a roller bearing and ensure the new bearings have extra protective layers and external seals for hostile factory environments.

3. Overloading

Overloading a bearing consists of making the bearing work far past manufacturer’s guidelines for temperature, load weight and speed processing. In these cases, a bearing is likely to see areas of wear and fatigue as well as signs of temperature overheating and wear paths from the rolling elements.

In these cases, the only solution is to source a new bearing as quickly as possible to prevent further damage and/or downtime to the production line. When sourcing a new bearing, it is important to either look for an increased load bearing to compensate or to alter the design of the mechanism.

4. Improper Mounting

If you’re seeing cracking, denting, wear, fractured rings, overheating, failure and incorrect operating speeds, the first thing you should consider is the mounting. Usually, bearings should be mounted with a press fit on the inner ring (or the rotating ring) rather than the outer (static) ring.

Incorrectly mounted bearings can become an issue with a loose housing fitting, a tight fitting and a misaligned fitting.

When correcting the fit, handling the bearing needs to be done in a careful and precise manner with all hands and tools being cleaned prior to starting. This will help to prevent the bearing seeing contamination or further damage. If any of the above symptoms in the bearing are heavy, then sourcing a replacement is an immediate necessity to avoid downtime and costs.

To then prevent the issue from reoccurring, it’s important to ensure all handlers of the bearing have the correct training and manufacturer’s guidelines. Learn more about our Corporate Training Program here.

Here For Your Roller Bearing Needs

If you’re seeing roller bearing failures, you can contact Jayachandra Bearings for assistance to reduce downtime and costs. Our team of experienced engineers offer the diagnosis of bearing failure as well as the mounting, dismounting, lubrication, alignment and the best options for buying roller bearings.

Please do reach out to us if you would like to find out more information on roller bearing preparation, maintenance, sourcing and repair. Know more about the roller bearings that we deal with here