Identifying the Mystery Part
Deliveries at IBT’s Gear Shop are always interesting. Inevitably, some large, heavy, greasy dirty chunk of metal arrives. The staff is usually curious and eager to find out just what the factory fates have dealt up this time. Generally, they are surprised and amused.
The material that arrives is a gear reducer or industrial transmission that has been sent in for evaluation, overhaul or repair. It has literally, as you might suspect, been through the mill.
“We face our share of challenges,” says Steve Wallace, Bearing Specialist. “Sometimes the first one is just to figure out what is it?”
- Who manufactured it?
- When did they make it?
- What is its primary function?
- What are the specifications?
- What is the part number or SKU?
- What is the serial number?
- How much is it going to cost to fix it and is it worth it?
A Quick Dose of Forensic Science
The process continues with Mike Berry, gear technician. His job process has its own set of instant challenges, including: “How can I take it apart to determine what is wrong, and therefore what it is going to take to make it whole again?”
Once the unit in question has been disassembled, it gets treated to a quick dose of forensic science. To put it in Steve Wallace’s terms, “We sometimes wonder what happened to this thing?”
What happened includes issues like cracked and broken gear teeth at the low end of the spectrum and totally destroyed gearboxes, down to actual gear teeth being ground down by malfunctions at the severe end.
“Among the most frequent problems we see,” Wallace says, “are reducers that have blown out their seals, leaked most or all of their lubricant, and then overheated or overloaded. The excess heat and stress is tougher on the moving parts than you might imagine. Overloads are deadly.
Many of the boxes show lack of periodic or preventive maintenance of one sort or another. Lubes can run out through bad seals or get burned out or worn out. Regardless, the net effect is very harmful to the unit.
Tailoring the Best Solution For Each Customer
“In some cases,” Wallace says, “we can get the customer such a great deal on a replacement gearbox that is cheaper than repairing the old one. For the customer, such decisions are pretty easily made.”
If the option is to repair, the shop totally disassembles the unit. Then, they carefully and thoroughly evaluate each component. Some are reusable as is and others need to be replaced, either from IBT stock or through special order from the OEM.
Some parts require research or ingenuity to identify and find, especially with the older boxes, but IBT is prepared to handle that. Everything is cleaned thoroughly. The casing is painted and then the box is reassembled, filled with lube as needed and prepared for shipment back to the customer.
What came in old, dirty and busted is ready to go back out for more years of useful life as a fixed, cleaned, painted, lubed, packaged and totally rejuvenated piece of equipment.