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Historically, wind turbine gearbox failures have plagued the industry. Yet an effective oil analysis program will increase the reliability and availability of your machinery, while minimizing maintenance costs associated with oil change-outs, labor, repairs and downtime. Practical action steps are presented here to improve reliability.
The primary objective in designing reliable gear drives is to avoid failure. Avoiding failure is just as important for the manufacturer and designer as it is for the end user. Many aspects should be considered in order to maximize the potential reliability and performance of installed gearing.
This article summarizes the use of laboratory fatigue data for bearings and gears coupled with probabilistic life prediction and EHD theories to predict the life and reliability of a commercial turboprop gearbox.
Effective gear designs balance strength, durability, reliability, size, weight, and cost. Even effective designs, however, can have the possibility of gear cracks due to fatigue. In addition, truly robust designs consider not only crack initiation, but also crack propagation trajectories. As an example, crack trajectories that propagate through the gear tooth are the preferred mode of failure compared to propagation through the gear rim. Rim failure will lead to catastrophic events and should be avoided. Analysis tools that predict crack propagation paths can be a valuable aid to the designer to prevent such catastrophic failures.
In recent years, the demands for load capacity and fatigue life of gears constantly increased while weight and volume had to be reduced. To achieve those aims, most of today's gear wheels are heat treated so tooth surfaces will have high wear resistance. As a consequence of heat treatment, distortion unavoidably occurs. With the high geometrical accuracy and quality required for gears, a hard machining process is needed that generates favorable properties on the tooth surfaces and the near-surface material with high reliability.
Gearbox performance, reliability, total cost of ownership (energy cost), overall impact on the environment, and anticipation of additional future regulations are top-of-mind issues in the industry. Optimization of the bearing set can significantly improve gearbox performance.
Light-weight construction and consideration of available resources result in gearbox designs with high load capacity and power density. At the same time, expectations for gear reliability are high. Additionally, there is a diversity of planetary gears for different applications.
Designing a gear set implies a considerable effort in the determination of the geometry that fulfills the requirements of load capacity, reliability, durability, size, etc. When the objective is to design a new set of gears, there are many alternatives for the design, and the designer has the freedom to choose among them. Reverse engineering implies an even bigger challenge to the designer, because the problem involves already manufactured gears whose geometry is generally unknown. In this case, the designer needs to know the exact geometry of the actual gears in order to have a reference for the design.
In recent years, improvements in the reliability of the vacuum carburizing process have allowed its benefits to be realized in high-volume, critical component manufacturing operations. The result: parts with enhanced hardness and mechanical properties.
Aircraft transmissions for helicopters, turboprops and geared turbofan aircraft require high reliability and provide several thousand hours of operation between overhauls. In addition, They should be lightweight and have very high efficiency to minimize operating costs for the aircraft.
This article examines the dry hobbing capabilities of two cutting tool materials—powder metallurgical high-speed steel (PM-HSS) and cemented carbide. Cutting trials were carried out to analyze applicable cutting parameters and possible tool lives as well as the process reliability. To consider the influences of the machinability of different workpiece materials, a case hardening steel and a tempered steel were examined.
Industrial gear standards have been used to support reliability through the specification of requirements for design, manufacturing and verification. The consensus development of an international wind turbine gearbox standard is an example where gear products can be used in reliable mechanical systems today. This has been achieved through progressive changes in gear technology, gear design methods and the continual development and refinement of gearbox standards.
Gear manufacturers are moving into an era that will see changes in both engineering practices and industry standards as new end-products evolve. Within the traditional automotive industry, carbon emission reduction legislation will drive the need for higher levels of efficiency and growth in electric and hybrid vehicles. Meanwhile, the fast growing market of wind turbines is already opening up a whole new area of potential for gearbox manufacturers, but this industry is one that will demand reliability, high levels of engineering excellence and precision manufacturing.
When a gear set is to be designed for a new application, the minimum size gears with the required capacity are desired. These gears must be capable of meeting the power, speed, ratio, life, and reliability requirements.
The diagnosis and prevention of gear tooth and bearing wear requires the discovery and understanding of the particular mechanism of wear, which in turn indicates the best method of prevention. Because a gearbox is a tribologically dependent mechanism, some understanding of gear and bearing tribology is essential for this process. Tribology is the general term for the study and practice of lubrication, friction and wear. If tribology is neglected or considered insignificant, poor reliability and short life will result.
Standards are unlike gears themselves: mundane, but complex, ubiquitous and absolutely vital. Standards are a lingua franca, providing a common language with reference points for evaluating product reliability and performance for manufacturers and users. The standards development process provides a scientific forum for discussion of product design, materials and applications, which can lead to product improvement. Standards can also be a powerful marketing tool for either penetrating new markets or protecting established ones.