This case is about a sudden failure of cooling tower fan motor of a copper mine.
The motor failed almost immediately after Planned maintenance, which was just about lubricating the motor bearings.
Electrical department conducted a scheduled PM task on this piece of equipment on 25.05.17. After 3 hrs of running; motor Non Driven End (NDE) bearing was damaged.
When the motor was opened it was observed:
1. One of the poles was severely damaged.
2. Bearing cage was also found damaged and all roller elements were crushed.
1. The vibration signature did not indicate lubrication starvation of the bearing.
Hence the question is — why stop a machine for re-lubrication when the activity isn’t needed at all?
2. In the future, if the system is stopped, then during start up it has to be ensured that the load is zero or near zero or it has to start at no-load condition.
If that isn’t possible, the system has to be started at low rpm and then the rpm can be gradually increased, all the while maintaining a steady state. It might take up to 6 hours for the system to stabilise after a bearing is lubricated.