A problem that is not understood cannot be solved. When it comes to gearbox failure analysis, we understand.
No matter what the application, a gearbox failure can be very expensive and very disruptive to your business. When a gearbox fails, understanding the root cause is crucial to getting to the right solution—and preventing a repeat occurrence. It requires a comprehensive analysis of the circumstances of the gearbox failure by a trained professional who understands the entire process of designing, manufacturing, installing, maintaining, and servicing a gearbox—and what can go wrong at each point in the lifecycle of the gearbox.
RBB Engineering has a deep understanding of the conditions gearboxes operate in and why they fail. In fact, Company President, Rob Budny, spent eight years leading the mechanical engineering department at a large wind turbine manufacturer, and has 20 years’ experience in the rotating equipment industry. Rob is also the lead instructor for The AGMA Gear Failure Analysis Seminar, a 3-day course on gearbox failure analysis.
We can help you determine why failure occurred—and how to prevent reoccurrences through:
- A thorough teardown and photographic documentation of the condition of the failed gearbox
- Forensic metallurgical analysis of failed gears and bearings
- A review of the operating history and maintenance records of the gearbox
- Performing a design assessment and calculating gear and bearing design margins
- Writing a comprehensive report documenting the root cause of the gearbox failure, and outlining what steps can be taken to prevent additional failures
Our Gearbox Failure Analysis Process
We start by asking questions and diving into the history of the gearbox—even communicating with OEM directly when needed, so we can pull together all of the facts.
- When was the gearbox installed?
- Who is the manufacturer?
- Do you have more than one? What is the repair history for those?
- What was the sequence of events that lead to the failure?
Site Visit & Tear Down
Sometimes a careful teardown and visual inspection the gearbox is enough for us to be able to diagnose the cause of the failure. Often, however, we need to dig deeper. Depending on the size of the gearbox, this will either be done onsite, or at third-party teardown facility:
- Thorough examination of the gearbox by our team of experts
- Carefully disassembly of its individual components
- Photographs to document the damage
Determine Primary Failure Mode
Most often multiple failure modes are observed. Determining which is the primary failure mode is the goal of our investigation work. We use all the tools at our disposal, including:
- Review of the design of the gearbox
- Visual assessment of damaged components
- Contact pattern documentation
- Metallurgical analysis (SEM, OLM, hardness, grain size, cleanliness,etc)
- Measurement of gear and bearing geometry
This is a customized report, tailored to your specific need that outlines our findings. In it we will clearly state the cause of the failure—substantiated with photographs and lab analysis results—make suggestions on how to prevent future failures, and if you wish make recommendations for the manufacture of a replacement. We can also oversee the actual design and manufacturing process of the replacement gearbox.