Understanding the impact that the environment has on an industrial gearboxes is important for its operational efficiency. Most experts believe that the external environment and climatic factors should be taken into account when determining the useful life of the equipment, also to understand in advance how and when to perform maintenance to avoid extra costs.
Fluctuations in indoor and outdoor temperatures can affect the production quality of an industrial gearbox. Implementing some simple preventive measures could help reduce the chances of overheating the gearbox and stop malfunctions that can affect how it works on a daily basis. An advice on this is to choose the best lubricant, understanding the technical characteristics and combining it with the climatic factors that influence the equipment.
WHY CORRECT LUBRICATION AND COOLING ARE IMPORTANT FOR GEARBOXES
The main purpose of gearboxes is to reduce the speed of the equipment for use in the transmission service. It is essential that the entire gearbox has adequate lubrication and cooling to operate efficiently. If proper lubrication has been provided, the gears will run smoothly against each other, otherwise the combination of gears will simultaneously create contact and stress, which can cause many problems over time. Gear oil is used to lubricate the coupling gear teeth, it is possible to prevent wear and more serious damage to the gear tooth surface using correct lubricants.
The lubricating oil, in addition to separating the teeth of the coupling gears, also serves to cool the surface, avoiding high temperatures and overheating.
One of the main reasons for properly lubricating the gearbox is that by doing so it is possible to cool the surface of the gear tooth. In fact, overheating can quickly become a major problem, especially if an air / oil mixture remains trapped in the gearbox network where carbon deposits form on the surface. This can overload the gears and cause failures.Many geographical areas undergo strong temperature fluctuations throughout the year. Temperature fluctuations can have a dramatic effect on the viscosity of the gearbox oil. Sometimes, companies have to switch from different types of oil during the current year or run the risk of damaging their equipment. In the hot summer months, the oil tends to flow subtly through the lubrication system and becomes denser in cold and icy winter days. An extreme weather scenario puts the working conditions of an industrial gearbox at risk. A heater and an oil cooler are often used to monitor the operating temperature of the lubricant, depending on the ambient and operating temperatures.
Temperature fluctuations within the industrial gearbox can also have an impact on the viscosity of the oil. If the operating temperature is irregular, the oil should be filtered or possibly modified to promote better quality operations. Getting temperature readings and oil samples can help determine if a thorough reduction of the gearbox is required. Sometimes, a minor change can prevent expensive repair and shutdown.
When an industrial gearbox operates efficiently, it will operate at a higher temperature than other machines. This forces mineral based oils to break down and rapidly lose their lubricating capacity at the same time. This type of deterioration can cause the mixture to separate into different combinations of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The carbon can appear in a fine grain and quickly gets into oil. If this condition persists, a thick sludge will develop between the gearbox tooth and the bearings, which often causes the metal-to-metal contact inside the machine. This is a common problem that leads to failure of the mechanism.
When choosing a lubricant for your industrial gearbox, it is good to consider which viscosity works best under normal and extreme conditions. (for more information see the article: How to manage the lubrication of gearboxes). With the right viscosity, the oil can create a film that covers the tooth and the bearings, protecting them during the entire operating process. When the equipment is in a “cold state”, the viscosity of the lubricant must be strong enough to allow the system to force the oil throughout the gearbox. If the oil is too thick, the lubrication system will have problems supplying it to the most important areas of the machine.
When selecting a gearbox, it is important to know the characteristics of the correct oil in relation to its application and temperature. Some lubricant formulas have a flatter temperature index than others in association with temperature increases. For example, most synthetic oils have a flatter temperature index than other mineral based oils. Even at lower temperatures, synthetic oil will be less viscous than its counterparts.