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The True Costs of Neglecting Spindle Maintenance

Unplanned downtime. It’s practically a boogeyman in industrial circles, and rightly so — every minute that your floor isn’t producing, it’s costing you money.

The cost of unplanned downtime is bad enough, but it doesn’t stop there. If production grinds to a halt, the cost of your now unproductive staff adds up too. This doesn’t help with employee morale either. Not to mention unanticipated replacement or repair fees, and the other costs related to emergency maintenance.

Then there are the downstream effects. When your equipment goes cold in the middle of fulfilling an order, you’re at risk of missing deadlines. This means unhappy customers. They are less likely to come back and, perhaps just as harmful to your business, less likely to recommend you to their peers.

If this all sounds bad, that’s because it is. Unplanned downtime due to equipment failure carries a huge cost, in both time and money. And while we would never make light of the financial health of your business, the fact is that if you have unexpected equipment failure and your only cost can be measured downtime and repair costs, you’re frankly getting off lucky.

Spindle Failure Worst Case Scenarios

At a basic level, if a spindle on a piece of equipment fails, the repair could involve more than just spindle. When a spindle breaks, slides and ball screws, tools and tool holders, drive motors, chuck jaws and other related machine tool components are all at risk of serious damage. And each damaged component means more dollar signs added to your repair and replacement bills.

Failing spindles also pose potential fire risks. Faults in the electric motors that power them can cause sparks, and the metal-to-metal contact caused by serious bearing failure can generate a tremendous amount of heat. That, plus highly flammable materials like wood, plastics, or titanium dust, is basically a recipe for serious fire.

The simple fact is that if you neglected a spindle to the point that it failed mid-production, you’ve potentially created a weapon on your production floor. Tool holder retention in particular can lead to this. Spindles can spin at velocities as high as 150,000 rpm, which means tools and toolholders are unlikely to stay nicely contained in the machine when they fail or come loose — it could travel, putting your staff in immediate danger.

Unplanned downtime is bad. We wouldn’t try to convince you otherwise. The costs are high and your all-important customer relationships are put at risk.

But the fact is that these outcomes are, frankly, inconsequential when compared to a worse case scenario like hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment damage, a serious fire, or the very real possibility of serious injuries. All of which can be avoided.