It’s inevitable for spindles to fail at some time or another, and this is simply part of the business. All machine components and tools eventually wear out or require repairs. The average spindle bearing lasts about ten or fifteen years, but only if adequately cared for and maintained. If a spindle bearing is not given the TLC it demands, then the life of the part will likely be reduced dramatically. If you’re tired of repairing or replacing spindles on your machines, here are seven easy tips for keeping your spindle repair to a minimum.
Tip # 1 – Remain mindful of vibration levels – It’s important to pay close attention to the vibration levels of your spindle bearing. Excessive vibration can indicate wear, meaning your spindle needs to be repaired. Though there will be a normal amount of vibration while using your spindle bearing, too much is not normal. If your machines have vibration alarms, be sure to take heed of them. You don’t want to ignore the alarms and allow your spindles to become more and more damaged. After so long, your damaged spindles may no longer be reparable and need replacement. This could get pricey. This is why you should have your spindle inspected by a trained technician when you notice heavy vibration.
Tip # 2 -Keep your spindle bearing properly lubricated – Unless you have a closed-unit spindle that was lubricated during construction and never requires lubricating again, your spindle bearing must undergo regular lubrication. Adequate lubrication significantly prolongs the life of your spindle bearing and decreases the need for repairs. There is more than one type of lubrication on the market, and different spindle bearings use different lubricants. Ensure you’re lubricating yours with the proper oil, or you could be setting your spindle bearing up to fail soon. If you’re unsure which type of oil to use, refer to the owner’s manual, which will inform you of the correct oil. It should also include instructions on how often to lubricate the bearing.
Tip # 3 – Have the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) perform any repairs or rebuild – whenever your spindle bearing needs to be repaired or rebuilt, instead of having just any company do the work, you should refer to the OEM. By dealing with the OEM, you can rest assured the factory-certified parts are used. These quality parts are essential to the overall functionality of your spindle. You’re also ensuring that the repairs are made according to the manufacturer’s specifications since the OEM is the company performing the work. You will also have peace of mind knowing that the OEM is performing the repairs because you know the repairs will be correct.
Tip # 4 – Perform regular inspections on your spindle – during these inspections, which should occur about every six months or so, you should check the spindle’s runout. This check should be conducted using a calibrated spindle test bar. The check should be done sooner than every six months if a crash occurs. You should also inspect the spring force of the spindle using a drawbar pull force test. If the tests return positive for damage, you need to send your spindle for repairs or possibly a rebuild. Only a qualified technician can perform a diagnosis and suggest the best way to fix the problem. Allowing these problems to exist means that complete spindle failure is imminent and inevitable. By conducting these tests and taking the appropriate action once a problem is detected, you can keep damage to a minimum and repair it while it’s easy to fix. The longer you continue to use a defective spindle bearing, the less efficiently it will work, and the more costly future repairs will be.
Tip # 5 – Maintain clean lubrication oil – again, keeping your spindle lubricated with the proper oil is important. It’s also important to keep the oil clean and free of contaminants. The more regularly you maintain your lubricating oil, the longer your spindle bearing will perform as expected. It’s also important to follow the lubrication maintenance schedule of the manufacturer, as this will help you to ensure your lubricating oil is always clean and ready to support your spindle bearing.
Tip # 6 – Ensure your spindle’s chiller unit is functioning – Some high-speed spindles have a cooling system, which requires a chiller unit. If your chiller unit ever stops working, your spindle bearing could overheat, resulting in severe damage. Also, if you notice that the temperature of your chiller system increases, this could mean that your spindle is malfunctioning. If you notice a temperature increase, have a certified technician inspect the spindle bearing. Don’t ignore a temperature increase in your chiller system, even if it’s small, because you could prevent further damage to your spindle from occurring.
Tip # 7 – Keep the spindle bearing covered for protection – It often becomes necessary to remove the cover that came with your spindle bearing to perform maintenance and other tasks. However, whenever this cover is removed, it must be replaced following the maintenance or repair that has been done. The cover is there for a reason: it prevents your spindle bearing from becoming contaminated with dirt and debris that could cause it to fail. It should be easy to replace the cover, but the owner’s manual should provide instructions if you’re experiencing difficulty replacing it.
If you follow these seven tips, your spindle bearing should remain in optimal shape for as long as possible. It won’t last forever, but manufacturers expect it to last up to 15 years, and the better you’re able to minimize spindle repair, the more likely you are to get the longevity out of your spindle that you expect.