SPINDLE REPAIR: THE NEW WAY TO SAVE MONEY
By Chris Hetzer
If your spindle system has failed, you’re asked to fill out a return materials authorization form, which essentially is a questionnaire about the spindle, such as type, manufacturer, serial number, nature of application, and most importantly, what you suspect caused the failure. The goal is to give as much information as possible about the spindle system to the repair provider, streamlining the troubleshooting and repair process.
When the spindle is received, an analysis is performed and the problem identified (at no cost), and a quote is given on the recommended repairs. Once the scope of work and quote is authorized, service begins on the spindle system. A repaired spindle typically costs about 40 percent less than a new spindle, and generally comes with warranty. While in many instances it makes sense to have your spindle serviced, sometimes it is better to purchase new.
A general rule of thumb is once repair costs start approaching the cost of a new spindle, (when the cost is less than 25 percent of a new spindle), you’re better off purchasing new. Often this is the case when the spindle is severally damaged, and the parts and labor needed to repair it approach the cost of a new spindle.
When the spindle system is getting serviced, attention should also be given to the slides, which can take a beating during normal operation. Slides are relatively simple in design and contain just a few parts, so the process of repairing them isn’t terribly complex. However, most people are not aware that slides can be repaired, and opt to replace them by purchasing new.
This area offers cost savings as slides can be repaired, on average, about 50 percent less than the cost of new slides. The problem is many service providers don’t have the equipment necessary to make slide repairs, and as such, the service isn’t offered much. However, slides that are repaired provide years of service at about half the cost of new.
Damaged slides can affect the performance of the spindle. If a spindle fails, many people may think the problem lies just within the spindle, but the real issue could be with the slides. For example, if the parts aren’t being manufactured to specifications, the real problem could be the slides not properly holding its position properly, thus affecting the spindle. This is another advantage a reputable service provider brings: they’ll be able to diagnose the problem within the entire spindle system, including the slides.
Cleanliness is the best way to keeping your slides operating well. During schedule routine maintenance on the spindle system, lubricate the slides and brush dirt and debris off the slide covers. It takes very little time to clean the slides, be sure to include them in your routine maintenance program.
Having your spindle repaired by a reputable service provider ensures the complete spindle system is evaluated and serviced. The advantage they provide is looking at the whole picture of the spindle system, not just the actual spindle, to correctly identify the cause of the problem.
For example, if the spindle is failing every couple of months, the problem may not be with the spindle itself, but rather something else within the spindle system, such as slides that are out of tolerance. Reputable providers will troubleshoot and recognize an issue like that as they have in-house engineers who know how spindle systems are designed, how they operate in various applications and have a full understanding of how they work and interact with other equipment.
In addition to a staff of design engineers, reputable service providers also have the equipment and facilities to properly repair spindle systems. Look to see if they have a class 10,000 clean room where they do their servicing. A clean room is a facility with tightly controlled air quality standards, preventing contaminants from damaging products manufactured in the facility. A class 10,000 clean room refers to the number of particles measuring 0.5 microns in size or greater that are allowed in the room for each cubic foot of air.
Servicing spindles in a class 10,000 clean room means there’s less chance of contaminating the bearings than those serviced in a facility that doesn’t have a clean room. Many providers have limited resources at their disposal, such as maybe only a lathe and grinder, as such the level of service they can provide will be rather basic. Research service providers and be sure to select one that has the expertise, equipment and facilities needed to service the entire spindle system.
You can save money by having your spindle system repaired as opposed to purchasing new. But not all repair facilities are the same. For the best results, seek a reputable service provider that has the qualifications, expertise, equipment and facilities to repair the spindle system, as well as supporting equipment such as slides. Having your spindle system repaired will save you time and money, and get your machine up and running quicker than purchasing new – and that’s good ROI.
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About the Author: Chris Hetzer is the chief executive office and a partner at Gilman USA LLC, 1230 Cheyenne Avenue, Grafton, WI 53024, 262-377-2434, Fax: 262-377-9438, gilmanusa.com.