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January 24, 2024

5 Linear Bearings Maintenance Tips To Avoid Unplanned Downtime

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Whether in industrial machinery, medical equipment, or other automation applications, linear bearings play a critical role. They help maintain the optimal performance of various types of mechanical systems.

Failure to implement proper care and maintenance of precision linear bearings can lead to increased wear, and friction and ultimately compromise the overall functionality of the system.

In this article, we will share 5 key tips for linear bearings maintenance to avoid unplanned downtimes. We will also cover common issues resulting from improper maintenance practices.

1. Implement A Strict & Regular Linear Bearing Maintenance Schedule

The primary solution for any linear bearings or ball bearings in general–– a strict regular maintenance schedule. Regardless of the bearings' load capacities, proper lubrication is always required to ensure a smooth operation. Each bearing's rolling element has a particular need depending on its applications.

For instance, linear steel ball bearings with low load capacities need machine oil for optimal performance while medium to high load capacities require grease as it has a higher viscosity and provides better adhesion.

Based on these differences, you can create a schedule by establishing routine checks. Remember to analyse the data for predictive maintenance, tracking bearing's historical issues and regularly review the data to ensure your maintenance schedule is effective.

2. Preventive Maintenance Of Your Linear Bearings

Components in your plain bearings, linear ball bearings and roller linear bearings such as shafts, cages and rolling elements can wear out over time.

You should do a preventive replacement for your linear bearings if:

  • Excessive Noise & Vibration: Small noises and vibrations are common but pay attention when they get loud and excessive.

  • High Temperatures: At above 150 degrees F, the lubricant life can be cut by 50% for every additional 18 degrees F, according to machinerylubrication.com.

  • Visible Damage: Inspect the shaft for damage and cleanse the bearing surfaces. If it's not damaged, reinstall it instead of replacing it.

While replacing the linear bearings is a preventative procedure, remember to carefully investigate the components including ball, cylindrical shaft and roller guides.

Merely replacing the faulty bearings without determining the root cause will most likely lead to the same issue which will compromise the machine's load capabilities and precise motion.

3. Training Your Operators To Identify Early Causes Of Linear Bearing Failure

Key points to note in training your operators include:

  • Understanding bearing basics: Covering basic concepts of bearings' functions might come off as redundant, especially among seasoned operators but regular training nurtures a solid foundation and keeps them current.

  • Recognising unusual vibrations and noise: Low noise is a common byproduct of operations but learning to identify abnormal noise can help detect potential issues to prevent imminent breakdowns.

  • Monitoring temperature: Introduce operators with the use of handled thermal imaging devices to detect any unusual rise in temperature especially bearing housing of higher speeds.

At SLS Bearings, we provide training courses for operators on 'Basic Bearing Knowledge & Bearing Handling', to provide you with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of bearing practices and forming a solid background to apply the right maintenance practices on rotating machines.

4. Conduct Regular Linear Bearing Inspections

Inspection is a proactive maintenance strategy for linear bearings to guarantee their high accuracy and low friction performance.

  • Step 1: Develop a regular inspection checklist based on the operating conditions of your machine and the types of linear bearings. Factors may include environmental conditions, different applications, guide rail and bearing's capacity.

  • Step 2: Do a visual inspection and look for signs of damage on the shaft, cylindrical rollers, bearing surface or guide rail that may indicate misalignment or damage.

  • Step 3: Keep detailed records of previous inspections, including any unusual observations and measurements taken that will assist future inspections.

An in-depth guide on this procedure is available on SKF Bearing's website.

5. Proper Installation Of Your Linear Bearings

Keeping your linear bearings functioning at high precisions despite the heavy loads requires proper installation.

  • Validation: Before installation, check your linear bearings to make sure it is the suitable type, and materials for any sign of defect. Do confirm if it is also made for the right capacity.

  • Verification: Verify the linear bearings tolerance, both housing and shaft to ensure it has high rigidity and low friction.

  • Installation: Choose the most suitable method for installation as there are various methods available such as thermal mounting and press fitting.


    Safeguarding Against Unplanned Downtime

    Implementing these five key tips can significantly reduce the risks of unplanned downtime for your linear bearings. By prioritising these strategies, you can ensure reliable linear bearing operations with precise and smooth linear motion.

    At SLS Bearings, our decades of expertise guarantee only the best products and services to maintain and optimise your operations. Our quality products from EwellixSamick and more also offer the best solutions for you in finding the right linear bearings.

    Get in touch with us to discuss more on your linear bearing and other requirements to optimise the efficiency of your applications!

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