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Ask the Expert: Gearbox Best Practices


Interview with Amarillo Gear Company Staff

With almost 100 years of experience and knowledge we couldn't resist the opportunity to sit down with one of our trusted vendors, Amarillo Gear Company. We had the pleasure to discuss a 100 years of gearbox best practices from the Amarillo Company perspective. Here is what they had to say:

The biggest gearbox failure that we tend to see from our customers is non proper lubrication of a gearbox. This leads to major maintenance issues and repairs. What recommendations does Amarillo Gear have towards gearbox best practices?

One of the contributing factors to shortened gearbox life is lack of maintenance of the gearbox in accordance with the manufacturer's requirements. For Amarillo Gear, our gears are designed and rated to AGMA standards so we also adopt their recommendations for proper maintenance of the gearbox and this includes periodic inspections for oil leaks and oil changes. Some customers opt to use our GSU, which is our gearbox service unit to periodically filter the oil. Use of this filter along with periodic sample testing can extend the time between oil changes and help the gearbox achieve maximum design life.

As Amarillo Gearbox specialists, why do you think gearbox lubrication, or lack thereof, is such a common issue?

We realize maintenance budgets are sometimes cut and some owners choose the "pay later" option by not spending a little to maintain the gearbox now. The minimal cost to maintain the gearbox now will reap bigger rewards by extending the gearbox life significantly.

Amarillo Gear Company has many years of experience dealing with gearboxes. Drawing from this experience, why is gearbox maintenance so important?

In the scope of the tower cost, the gearbox cost is minimal. However, lost production because a cooling tower is down due to a gearbox that was not properly maintained can cost the owner many times what a properly maintained gearbox costs.

What suggestions would Amarillo Gear have for implementing a successful gearbox maintenance strategy?

Follow the recommendations in the manufacturers published Operations and Maintenance manual for optimum gearbox life and reliability.

What other top gearbox issues do you see and what advice would you give?

The Amarillo Gear fan drive is one of the most reliable gearboxes designed and built today. Sometimes other gear manufacturers design and rate to lesser standards than AGMA. According to CTI STD 111, the gearbox should be properly sized to an AGMA Service Factor of 2.0 on the motor power. Gears not designed or rated to the AGMA standards for fan drives or sized to fan absorbed power generally have a significantly shorter service life, no matter the maintenance program.

What is the best general piece of advice that you would give to Amarillo Gear customers?

Buy only gearboxes properly designed for the application with a long track record of reliability. This will insure that the manufacturer has done their part and then properly maintain the gearbox for optimum reliability.

Tell us one fact that most people don't know about either Amarillo Gear Company or their Amarillo Gearboxes.

Some do not know that we still actually design and manufacture the gears that go inside the gearbox. Since it is the most critical component, it is paramount that we control its quality and design. This is unusual in that some manufacturers have turned to outsourcing this component or even the entire gearbox to cut costs. We are experts at gear design and it shows in the quality and reliability we provide.