May 2021

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Reliability: Pushing the limit can have unexpected consequences

A prominent manufacturer rediscovered the old axiom, “pushing the limit can have unexpected consequences,” after experiencing many bearing failures in its 40-hp air blowers. These lifetime-lubricated (sealed) bearings had been properly installed on 20-mm shafts, and it can be assumed that premium greases were being used.

Bloch, Heinz P., Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

A prominent manufacturer rediscovered the old axiom, “pushing the limit can have unexpected consequences,” after experiencing many bearing failures in its 40-hp air blowers. These lifetime-lubricated (sealed) bearings had been properly installed on 20-mm shafts, and it can be assumed that premium greases were being used. However, the blower rotors spin at 22,000 rpm, and the radial ball bearings did not last very long. As one engineer noted, these bearings failures became a costly repeat-warranty problem. The manufacturer had selected these bearings based on load-related information, and the operating loads were well below the rated or permissible values. Chances are, however, that the manu

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