May 2009

Maintenance and Reliability

Improve cooling tower gear drive reliability

Applying commodity products instead of engineered solutions can cause premature failure

DeBaecke, J., Philadelphia Gear Corp.

Cooling tower applications can present a unique dilemma. Large cooling towers typically contain a number of cells; each cell contains a fan unit or fan "train" made up of a drive motor, gearbox and the actual cooling fan assembly (Fig. 1). Because they are identical, the motor-gearbox-fan trains in a given cooling tower are sometimes collectively viewed and treated as mass-produced "commodity" items. Suffice it to say that commodity items often differ from thoughtfully engineered and reliability-focused products.  Fig. 1    A cooling tower with nine identical cells. Each cell

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