Sleeman Brewery Ltd. is a beer producing company based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The company packages a range of beer products, including just-in-time products that are ready for consumption as soon as they are filled. Providing just-in-time products requires the company to schedule end-to-end production weeks in advance, starting from the brewhouse all the way to the packaging plant. Therefore, maintaining the production line is a critical part of the company’s production process. Sleeman’s Maintenance and Engineering Department supervises projects relating to preventative maintenance and system failure. In January 2012, the team noted a bearing failure on the bottle line located after the full bottle check unit. The bearing and gearbox, shown in Figure 1, were installed less than one year prior to the date of failure. This bearing failure was created by axial loadings induced by a bow or bend in the conveyor shaft. As a result, the bearing’s tracks were damaged and the retaining ring broke away. During the repair process, the gearbox was critically damaged. The conveyor and gearbox shafts seized together, producing enough force to cause a tear in the gear box housing as the gear box was being removed.
Andrew J. Goncalves, a co-op student from the University of Waterloo, was asked to investigate the gearbox and bearing failure and to determine methods to detect failure prior to critical failure for the future.
This case study covers topics on bearing and gearbox failure analysis, which includes collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of a mechanical part failure. The case mostly uses a qualitative approach to illustrate mechanical part failure analysis. It could be used to demonstrate failure investigation procedure and mechanical parts failure modes. This case is proposed to be used in Industrial Metallurgy (ME 435) and Fatigue and Fracture Analysis (ME 526) courses.