When an industrial gearbox grinds to a screeching halt in any given industrial environment, those in charge face the headache of not one, but two gigantic expenses on the horizon. You might think that the cost of replacing the thing would be the worst expense of all, but in reality it can be the downtime the outage brings that inflicts the most damage.


Downtime means no operation, which means nothing being produced and potentially colossal losses by the hour. As such, it’s not unusual for those affected to just immediately call out for the first replacement gearbox they can find, in order to have it thrown into place and get the whole place up and running once again. However, others may well question whether or not this is necessary as there are plenty of firms out there offering industrial gearbox repair and maintenance services – is it always necessary to go about an outright replacement?


broken gear boxes

Gearboxes over time can develop faults.

Image source: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3267/2548217232_61f8128b02.jpg


It depends on the circumstances of course, but as far as an outright rule goes, the answer is no.


The Common Causes

Maintenance experts sometimes feel as though they’re banging their heads against brick walls – something that’s pretty easy to understand when you realise what they’re up against. Despite constant advice and warnings to the industry, the number one cause of all gearbox faults and fatalities is nothing more serious than poor lubrication. This could mean not enough of the stuff, lubricants that are not fit for purpose, contamination of lubricants or pretty much anything else across the board – all of which are painfully easy to avoid.


With regular checks and occasional maintenance, industrial gearboxes can be almost bulletproof – or if not entirely invulnerable they can still go on working for years, even decades on end without giving you any trouble. Lubrication alone can prevent any number of common problems, ranging from overheating to excess wear and right through to preventing leaks.


Of course, this is all good to know if your gearbox is currently doing ok, but what about in instances where things are already looking rather on the sour side?  Well, it’s always worth bearing in mind that if it is possible for your gearbox to be repaired by a professional, this is pretty much guaranteed to cost you a heck of a lot less than replacing the whole thing. What’s more, chances are the job will also be much quicker than arranging and installing a replacement – you might be able to get sorted on an emergency basis.


So, say for example the problem is something along the lines of a broken housing, a damaged shaft or issues with any of the keyways – there’s an excellent chance that any and all of these could be fixed by a repair company and would not cost you close to the price of a replacement. In fact, it’s unlikely to even cost you half the amount you’d pay for a new gearbox.


 broken gear bokes1

Don’t leave a repair until it’s too late.

Image source: http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1202/5177967360_849f5e76aa.jpg


As such, if you don’t already have some kind of contractor or in-house department to carry it out for you, it’s always in your favour to first reach out to a repair company (such as Alpha Drive Engineering) and ask them for a quote – it might be a pleasant surprise on all accounts.


Time on Your Side

If you’d ideally like to get things up and running as fast as possible – which of course you would – the repair option is precisely what you should be looking into first of all. The reason being that when you organise a repair from a professional company, there’s a good chance they will be at your place of work in less than a week and could potentially have all the necessary repairs done in just a single day…maybe two. By contrast, if you need to organise a new gearbox that perhaps isn’t kept regularly in stock or needs to be in some way customized, you might be talking several weeks or even months until everything is sorted.

This is the kind of downtime that can cripple any business and really should be avoided.

Of course, no gearbox will ever last forever and there will indeed come a time when a replacement is necessary. As soon as it becomes apparent that things are tapering off in terms of performance and reliability on a regular basis, it’s usually safe to say that a replacement may be called for. Of course, you can always seek the opinion of a third-party repair firm anyway that has nothing to gain by lying to you about the situation – in any case it’s always worth seeing if it can be fixed first.

Image credits: NZhamstar and Dave_7