Expert Discusses Bearing Isolators and Motor Failure in Recent Article



Electric motors are crucial assets in industrial processing. They generate the mechanical energy needed to keep operations going.

Recently, Design Engineer George Gillespie, discussed electric motors and pumps, as well as the benefits of bearing isolators in preventing motor failure, in a recent Plant Services magazine article.

In the piece, “How to protect bearings and extend motor life,” Gillespie explained that, while modern electrical motors are for the most part reliable, that level of comfort can be what puts your team in a bind.

“Most days, personnel do not even think about the motors doing the work. Some motors are automatically monitored. However, most personnel walk over to the motor control center, and without thinking, they press a button to start a motor. That action starts their day … until it doesn’t.”

Also, if a plant is operating under the run-to-failure mentality, what started out as a cheap, “throwaway” motor can turn into a big problem with expensive consequences. These include:

  • Downtime
  • Crisis-mode operations
  • Halted production

Ultimately, plants are left with two potentially expensive choices — repair the motor or replace it.

Primary causes of motor failure

Bearing problems frequently cause electric motor failures, and premature bearing failure can result from any number of factors.

“Many are lubrication-related; these include over- and under-lubrication and lubricant contamination,” Gillespie wrote in the Plant Services article. “Improper lubrication practices can often be addressed via training and focusing on maintenance procedures. Lubricant contamination can also be mitigated.”

Protect motors by eliminating lubricant contamination with bearing isolators

bearing isolatorA noncontact, compound labyrinth bearing isolator is the best equipment to protect the electric motor bearing lubricant from liquid or particulate contamination because they are specifically designed to keep the majority of contaminants out. Should contaminants enter the motor’s interior, the bearing’s design uses specific clearances, gap changes, and directional changes to control them.

“The technology directs the contaminants away from the bearing cavity using centrifugal force and gravity,” Gillespie explained. “It expels the contaminants outside the seal and away from the bearing. This prevents contamination of the bearing lubricant and greatly extends the life of the lubricant and the bearing.”

In addition, Bearing isolators also keep the bearing lubricant where it belongs — within the bearing cavity. As a result, the lubricant keeps the bearing components apart, thereby preventing premature failure.

Read the full article on PlantServices.com to learn more about how to extend motor life by increasing bearing life.

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