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Understanding the Impact of Bearing Failure Due to Lack of Lubrication

Updated: Jun 17

Bearing Failure Due to Lack of Lubrication

Bearing failure is one of the most common failures in the industrial setting. Machines and equipment with moving parts are particularly prone to bearing failure. In this post, we discuss the impact of the lack of lubrication on bearing failure. We also highlight the benefits of using Redlist’s Lubrication Management Software in improving lubrication and reducing bearing failure costs.  

What is Bearing Failure?

Bearings are mechanical components that reduce friction between moving parts and support loads in machinery. Although small and relatively inexpensive machine parts, bearings are critical to the smooth functioning of industrial machines.

Bearing failure leads to significant operational and maintenance issues such as:

  • High downtime

  • Low productivity

  • Costly maintenance

  • Unoptimized assets

  • Overworked technicians

  • Unsafe working conditions

Bearing Failure Due to Lack of Lubrication 

Lack of lubrication is one of the primary causes of bearing failure. Bearings rely on lubrication to minimize friction, distribute load, and dissipate heat. Without adequate or effective lubrication, bearings experience detrimental effects that lead to failure.

It is critical to note that lack of lubrication doesn’t always mean the absence of lubricants, it can also come in the form of:


Inadequate amounts of lubricants lead to failure in forming protective films on the bearing and machine surfaces. Thus, there is increased metal-to-metal contact and faster wear. 


Applying too much lubricant is as harmful as under-lubrication. Excess lubricants contribute to friction that can further increase at high operating temperatures.

Insufficient Viscosity

Lubricants with low viscosity also fail to form protective films between machine surfaces, increasing metal-to-metal contact and wear. 

Wrong Lubricant

Using the wrong or incompatible lubricants can result in reactions between a lubricant’s chemical components and machine surfaces, facilitating faster wear.

Leaking Seals

Lubricants can escape through leaking seals, thus, leaving the bearing and other machine parts under-lubricated.

Symptoms of Bearing Failure Due to Lack of Lubrication 

Lubrication-related bearing failure can manifest through the following symptoms:

  • Unusual noises - bearings produce grinding, squealing, or knocking sounds during operation.

  • Excessive vibration - bearings show increased vibration levels, detectable through vibration analysis.

  • Increased temperatures - bearings run hotter than their usual operating temperatures, measured using infrared thermography.

  • Visible damage - bearings show signs of wear and damage, such as scoring, pitting, or discoloration, observed through visual inspection.

  • Reduced performance - machines with potential bearing failure show reduced efficiency and performance.

Lubrication Management for Bearing Failure Prevention

The prevention and control of lubrication-related bearing failure depends on proper lubrication. This is achieved only through effective lubrication management practices. These practices include:

1. Implementing regular maintenance. 

Establish regular maintenance that involves the routine checking of the conditions of bearings and lubricants. This should also involve the regular application of lubricants based on manufacturer recommendations and operating requirements.

2. Selecting the ideal lubricants. 

Use the correct type of lubricant based on the bearing specifications and operating conditions. Ensure that the lubricant you select is compatible with the bearing materials and environmental conditions.

3. Standardizing lubrication methods. 

Establish standard procedures for lubricant application, both for manual and automated lubrication. You must include the correct amount, frequency, and other instructions to ensure proper lubrication.

4. Controlling contamination. 

Use appropriate seals to prevent lubrication leaks as well as entry of contaminants that reduce lubricant performance. Furthermore, maintain clean and dry lubrication storage to prevent lubricant loss and failure due to contamination.

5. Monitoring conditions. 

Perform condition monitoring and inspections that monitor the effective lubrication of bearings and prevent major issues that lead to failure. Some of these methods are vibration analysis for early signs of bearing wear, temperature monitoring for signs of overheating, and oil analysis for lubricant contamination and degradation.

6. Training personnel. 

Train relevant personnel and maintenance staff on proper lubricant procedures. Enforce standard operating procedures and best practices to ensure effective results. 

Ensure Proper Lubrication with Redlist

Proper lubrication is the most essential preventive and control measure for bearing failure. With effective lubrication management, you can prevent the lack of lubrication and its many forms and mitigate the detrimental effects on bearings and other machine parts. Effective and sustainable lubrication management is now possible with software like Redlist.

In an actual industrial application, Redlist’s Lubrication Management Software was used to improve the lubrication management of a wood production company. One of the many positive results of using Redlist was the company’s reduction in bearing failures. Prior to Redlist, the company went through at least one bearing per week due to lubrication issues. This results in about $20,000 spent on repairs and $12,000 per hour on production losses.

With Redlist’s support, the company established a successful lubrication management program within a month. This program effectively reduced the company’s bearing failure from one per week to only one in the first year with Redlist.

On top of that, implementing Redlist’s Lubrication Management Software also achieved the following positive results:

  • Recovered $12,000 per hour in production loss

  • Saved $180,000 in labor cost

  • Saved $300,000 in downtime

  • Improved overall work environment

Experience these results and more valuable benefits with Redlist. Book your free demo with our experts today!

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