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Precision bearings and condition monitoring

NSK bearings eliminate failures on milk plant conveyor

By switching to an NSK solution following repeated bearing failures on one of its principal conveyors, a UK-based milk processing plant is achieving annual savings of £10,000.

The milk processing plant was experiencing regular failures of multiple bearings on its conveyor, and as the bearings were located in an inaccessible area this resulted in the inability to provide re-lubrication. As a result, the customer had to change the bearings every 10 weeks, leading to downtime of 3 hours, which was proving expensive

Engineers from NSK were invited to review the application and after a comprehensive and professional evaluation as part of the company´s value added programme AIP, proposed stainless steel bearing inserts fitted with Molded-Oil - NSK´s proprietary oil-impregnated solid material - to help increase service life.

Molded-Oil offers grease-free properties with no requirement for oil refilling as it slowly seeps from this material, proving ample lubrication to the bearing for extended periods of time. This then results in supporting longer service life whilst keeping the environment clean.

NSK also recommended the use of Silver-Lube® corrosion-resistant polymer housings, which are ideal for applications where frequent wash-downs and optimum hygiene standards are required. The PBT thermoplastic resin housings are paint-free, eliminating any potential for chipping or flaking. Silver-Lube® features nitrile rubber seals, is NSF-approved and available in four different geometries. Suitable for working temperatures from -20°C to +90°C, long life and low cost of ownership are among the key benefits.

Image: Molded-Oil bearings are designed to be maintenance-free as oil is released from the internal system on demand without the need for replenishment.

The combination of Silver-Lube® corrosion-resistant housings and the excellent sealing and lubricating properties of Molded-Oil inserts is conveniently offered by NSK´s Life-Lube® series, thus delivering increased operating life (with no need for lubrication) in a single unit. Life-Lube® units, which are purpose-designed for applications where contact with process fluids is unavoidable, are available in 20-40mm bore sizes and in pillow block, two- and four-bolt flanges, and take-up unit housings.

Trials of Life-Lube® units on the milk processing plant conveyor showed that bearing life was extended from 10 weeks to over 1 year. In addition, there was no longer any need to replace the shaft after each bearing failure. This cost, along with the labour costs associated with deploying two maintenance fitters, as well as cost of lost production time, constitutes the calculated annual savings of over £10,000.

NSK in profile
Established 100 years ago, NSK (Nippon Seiko Kabushiki Kaisha) is a Japanese-listed company that has evolved from a regional ball bearing supplier to a roller bearing specialist and automotive supplier with a global market presence. Today, NSK employs more than 31,500 employees in 30 countries. As per March 2016 NSK achieved a turnover of 975 billion Yen. This result has been driven by ever-increasing investment in research & development, enabling the company to continuously improve the quality of its products and services. This investment supports NSK´s objective of »No. 1 in Total Quality». In addition to a complete rolling bearing portfolio, NSK develops and manufactures precision components and mechatronic products, as well as systems and components for the automotive industry, including wheel bearing units and electric power-steering systems.

In 1963, NSK´s first European subsidiary, Düsseldorf, Germany, was opened and in 1976, the first European production facility in Peterlee, England. Today, NSK Europe supports pan-European sales with production locations in England, Poland and Germany, logistics centres in the Netherlands, Germany and England and technology centres in Germany, England and Poland. In 1990, NSK purchased the UPI Group including the renowned European bearing manufacturer RHP, with its factory in Newark (UK). Additionally, NSK has developed a comprehensive network of authorised sales distributors. NSK Europe is divided into application-based business divisions: Industry rolling bearing technologies & linear and precision technology (EIBU) as well as bearing modules and steering systems for the automotive industry (EABU & ESBU). In this organisation, NSK Europe's 3,500 employees achieved a turnover of over 1,000 million Euros as per March 2016.

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