Refining the sugar cane production process

Australia produces about 35 million tonnes of raw sugar every year, with 80 per cent of it exported. Sugar cane farms run from the north of New South Wales through to northern Queensland, mainly on the east coast.

Sugar cane came to Australia via South Africa on the first fleet in 1788. It is a hardy plant, made for hot, humid conditions with plenty of rain. In other words, the northern climate of Australia’s east coast is ideal for growing sugar cane.

Over the years, the industry has become part of the Australian industrial landscape, providing much needed foreign currency as well as jobs. Those in the industry work hard, and expect the equipment and machinery they use to do the same.

In order to process the cane into raw and then refined sugar, plant and machinery needs to be top quality and able to handle the rigours of working day-in and day-out to process the product. A whole range of equipment needs to be utilised to make the industry run. This includes crystalising machines, material handling equipment such as conveyors, fume extraction systems, as well as a raft of other tools. The companies involved in the industry need to know they can rely on certain brands and back-up service in order to ensure their operations run smoothly.

Schaeffler is one such company that has an excellent reputation when it comes to plant equipment. High-end brands such as INA, FAG and LuK are included in the Schaeffler portfolio. German-based, Schaeffler is renowned for producing high-end, long-lasting industrial products that can handle the pressures that the sugar industry brings to bear.

One of the company’s products is its FAG spherical roller bearings, which are ideal for the sugar processing industry, where the factories themselves create harsh conditions. Where these products come into their own is that they deliver not only high performance due to their engineering, but can handle high loads. Something that is a necessity in this industry.

Junior Eltagonde is a regional manager for CBC Australia and is based in Townsville, which is right in the heart of the sugar industry. As a distributor of Schaeffler products, he can testify not only to the quality of the product, but how it keeps industry moving.

“The products have a great reputation and many customers know the quality of them,” he said. “They are well-known and well-regarded throughout the sugar processing industry. They have been tested over time and last as good as any other product. With bearings, it’s all about different applications. Schaeffler would be in the top five brands in the world when it comes to this type of gear.”

These bearings have a design in which the inner ring that runs inside the outer ring on two rows of rollers. They also have an angular adjustment of up to two degrees, which not only helps when it comes to the aforementioned high-load carrying capacity, but it also can compensate for misalignments.

Schaeffler spherical bearings also offer increased operational reliability and raise the average service life by up to 60 per cent. They save on space because smaller sizes deliver the performance of larger bearings.

Eltagonde says that another key to using Schaeffler products is that the company doesn’t rest on its laurels. It offers great local support, but also on a developmental level, the company knows that moving ahead is important when it comes to making sure they are at the cutting edge of these technologies.

“They’re always upgrading their technology and the materials they use,” said Eltagonde. “They’re constantly looking at upgrading the coatings they use on their bearings, especially the ones they use in gear boxes.”

Schaeffler’s bearings are but one of its reliable products. They offer an array of solutions to the sugar processing industry where hard-working machinery is a necessity.