INDUSTRY SECTORS

Our work covers a wide range of industry sectors, some examples are illustrated below with case studies

Select the industry by clicking on the image or text above for more information on what we do and to see our case studies from some of the more than 800 assignments we have carried out for clients – from SMEs to large multinationals.

Power
Wind Energy
Wastewater
Manufacturing
Rail
Marine
Engines
Aviation
Legal

Power Generation

Several such investigations have been conducted.  Root causes discovered have included assembly and commissioning defects, poor oil filtration, electrical grounding brushes malfunctioning, electrical current damage, inadequate oil film generation during rundown, incorrect settings on jacking oil systems.

A common cause of failure discovered has been water ingress into the gearbox oil, other failure modes seen include system vibration frequencies resonating with blade passing frequency, gearbox manufacturing defects, incorrect oil levels in gearboxes, inadequate cooling of gearboxes.

Large hydropower turbines can suffer thrust bearing problems and wipes during start-up and warm-up, due to thermally induced distortion of the bearing pads.

WIND ENERGY

NCEL has investigated reliability issues with various models of wind turbine gearboxes.  Root causes have included assembly errors, lubrication deficiencies, thermal expansion issues, manufacturing defects.

Premature failures of main shaft bearings were studied, root causes were a combination of manufacturing defects and lubrication issues.

WASTEWATER

A major sewage works in a capital city experienced short lives on several hundred new aerator geared motor drives.  Investigation revealed inadequate sealing permitting water ingress, combined with inadequate design safety margins.  A detailed specification for improved life units was drawn up, and replacement drive units were procured.

The entire bearing units were failing prematurely, and also overloading and damaging their attachment bolts.  Studies revealed that the design had failed to take into account some components of the forces applied to the bearings.

Gear tooth pitting and spalling failures were occurring.  Investigation showed that the gears were adequately designed, but that overheating had occurred in early service due to a lack of oil coolers, which had resulted in surface wear on the teeth, which subsequently triggered tooth spalling failures.

MANUFACTURING

Key reciprocating components were operating at close to their fundamental limits, and redesign was carried out to reduce reciprocating forces and increase load capacity, thereby increasing the machine's speed capability.

Replacement gears for an existing machine failed from scuffing during early running.  Various measures, including supplementary oil cooling and extra fine oil filtration were applied in order to assist running-in.

Multiple causes were found, including the gearboxes being undersized for the duty, due to limited physical space being available in the machine configuration.  Improvements to lubrication, and to internal gear alignment procedures were suggested, to avoid major redesign of the machine.

RAIL

Various studies have been conducted for various train users.  Even a small failure rate is unacceptable because the failure or seizure of an axle-box bearing risks derailment.  Root causes have included electrical current damage, thermal expansion issues, and contaminants such as water or dust entering the bearing.

Studies for a major city metro system showed that premature wear of escalator step chains was a major cause of unreliability and maintenance cost.  Lost lubricant (oil or grease) was a fire risk that required eliminating or controlling.  We devised, rig tested and piloted a new design of step chain that required minimal lubrication and was more reliable than existing standard chain.  This innovation has since been adopted in various metro systems.

A major city metro was experiencing unacceptable short rope lives on some passenger lifts.  Investigations showed that the lift mechanism design, although meeting all mandatory standards, was inherently sub-optimal for the operating duty.  Improvements were made to the operating regime, and enhanced rope lubrication was introduced.  An improved specification was suggested for future lift mechanism procurement.

Study of failures in service of rail "switches" (also called "points" or "turnouts"), and assessment of design improvements for the actuator and sensing mechanisms to enhance reliability.

marine

These have included bearing failures, camshaft wear, piston ring sticking, and general wear caused by lubrication and filtration deficiencies.  On some occasions design deficiencies have been found, and advice given on design improvements.

Slewing bearing and jib heel bearings failures have been investigated by Neale Consulting Engineers.  These failures, if not caught in time, can result in catastrophic toppling of the whole crane, or collapse of the jib, with risks of injury and fatality.

Various failures have been investigated, causes include seal leakage permitting water entry, and excess misalignment caused by dynamic forces during manoeuvring.

The main turret of a large FPSO, supported on a multiple wheel and rail turntable, malfunctioned.  Investigations showed that due to poor or absent lubrication, frictional forces became magnified and caused the rollers to mis-track, damaging the rails and risking jamming of the turntable.

A detailed study of the design revealed deficiencies in strength and flexibility of various components, which in turn adversely affected the lives of the bearings and gears.

engines

Diesel, gasoline and gas IC engines rely on various highly stressed tribological components, which can fail for various reasons.  Numerous studies have been conducted for engine manufacturers, and also for users.  Topics have included piston ring and cylinder liner wear, bearing failures, crankshaft failures, camshaft wear, and other issues

Engines studied have ranged from small motorcycle engines, through truck and locomotive engines, generator engines, up to large slow speed marine 2-stroke Diesel engines.  The same tribological principles apply to all sizes, though the design details, and the optimal solutions to problems, vary considerably.

AVIATION

Crash investigation support: Neale Consulting Engineers has participated in several investigations of crashes of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, providing advice and analysis of tribological components such as bearings, gears, clutches, screw jacks, and also lubrication and maintenance regimes.

LEGAL

Expert witness & legal support: Many of the machine investigations described have been commissioned due to a legal dispute.  In addition, Neale Consulting Engineers has given evidence in Patent disputes involving machinery and devices, and also personal injury cases involving machinery.