It seemed as though nothing could stop the squealing. Not that the Monarch Cement Company’s huge ball mill wasn’t already loud. Powered by a 5,000-HP motor, it pulverizes 100 tons of clinker (a burned mixture of limestone and shale) per hour. But the squealing was not what Randy Riebel wanted to hear. As electrical supervisor at Monarch’s plant in Humboldt, Kansas, he knew the noise meant the motor’s bearings were going — again. In fact, the sound of chronic bearing damage was all too familiar at the plant, which has the capacity to produce 1,300,000 tons of cement a year. Since 2001, when the ball mill was new, its motor bearings had been replaced three times.
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