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October 6, 2021

Sealing Solutions for Long-Term Bearing Protection

Category: Mining

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Bearing degradation is one of the greatest causes of equipment failure. This is especially relevant when machinery operates in environments that are less than sterile. Dust, water and abrasive material contamination are just a handful of what can lead to a reduced bearing lifespan.

Fine particles and moisture are the biggest enemies of bearings, making innovative and effective seal solutions imperative for optimal performance. Upping bearing reliability demands an advanced approach to seal solutions, ensuring that equipment can continue to operate without repetitive bearing failures.

Different Seals – Different Solutions

Historically, lip seals have been the mainstay of sealing options – but they come with multiple issues. Repeated failures are common, resulting in excessive downtime to replace.

The reasons lip seals degrade are many and can be defined as the following:

  • A New or factory lip seal is installed. Generally, lip seals supplied by bearing OEMs are not designed with the same intense focus as bearings, so they tend to wear from the moment operation commences.
  • This wear combines with shaft grooving, allowing contaminants to enter the bearing chamber more easily, causing many bearing issues that lead to complete failure.

The key to breaking this cycle is to change the lip seal for a more advanced option: a labyrinth seal. This innovative option is non-contact, has no wearing parts and eliminates fretting. Labyrinth seals that are IP56 certified are designed to resist the ingress of water and dust.

Labyrinth seals are utilised in equipment in less demanding environments, such as those where full immersion into water doesn’t occur, where moisture is not continuous or condensing, and hermetic sealing of the bearing chamber isn’t required. Used in such conditions, labyrinth seals offer a virtually unlimited lifespan, making the use of old-style lip seals virtually obsolete in many applications.

Face Seals are an alternative option for assets that present more challenging issues. This includes immersion into liquid, those that work in continuous or condensing moisture conditions and where oil levels approach the shaft diameter and need to be positively contained.

Advantages of these include:

  • Seals out all external sources of contamination
  • Do not fret or wear
  • No venting required
  • Minimises lubricant additions to bearing housings

Rotary seals come in many designs, including the most advanced lip seals, that massively reduce the MTBF seen in traditional models. Other rotary seals include split seal technology that makes for simple installation and dramatically reduces downtime to fit.

When selecting the right sealing solution for bearing protection, the key aspects can be defined as follows:

  • Face seals that seal out virtually all external sources of contamination
  • Labyrinth seals for less-demanding applications are cost-effective and long-term
  • Advanced lip seals that break the cycle of degradation are typically seen with old-style seals
  • Taking advantage of the latest materials and technology for a bespoke solution that addresses virtually every sealing need

Seal production expert Chesterton Customseal (part of Chesterton group of company) is leading this new standard for reliability and bearing longevity. A specialised sealing company continually invests in expertise, time, and funding into an ever-advancing range of sealing solutions.

The historical issues that lead to bearing failure in all types of rotating machinery need no longer blight reliability and the underpinning problem of downtime and the associated negative impact on profits.

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