Lubed-for-life bearings drive improved efficiency

Bearing failures are always an unwanted hassle for industrial plants; particularly so if they lead to shutting a critical operation that causes significant downtime. Tony Tormey, BSC’s Product Manager for Industrial Bearings, says water and dust ingress is a major cause for bearing failures in industrial settings.

As a national-level supplier of bearing products and services in Australia for over a 100 years, the Bearing Service Company, or BSC, works with some of the most reputed global bearing manufacturers. This includes a partnership with Japanese bearing manufacturer, NSK, which supplies Australian industries with a wide range of bearing solutions.

Tony recommends using NSK’s Molded-Oil bearings in applications where there’s a high risk of water or dust contamination.

“In building material manufacturing, this might be in saw mills or cement plants where a significant amount of dust is present. Also, in any application with high moisture level and risk of incidental contact with water, we recommend using NSK Molded-Oil bearings,” says Tony.

“As added protection against the elements we also recommend using contact type seals which NSK offer and extra seal arrangements for harsher environments,” he says.

NSK manufactures Molded-Oil bearings in a variety of bearing types including ball bearing, wide inner ring bearings and spherical roller bearings. The ball bearing type is also available in a high corrosion resistant stainless steel. NSK’s exclusive ES1 stainless steel outperforms the industry standard SUS440C in corrosion resistance.

NSK Sales Engineer, Dave Healey says Molded-Oil bearings are an environmentally friendly proposition for plants to consider. Because they are lubricated with minute quantities of oil that exudes from the Molded-Oil material, minimal lubricant leakage from the bearing occurs ensuring the environment is kept clean.

Different factors, such as the operating temperature or the rotational speed, affect the bearings’ life. Generally speaking, the bearing tends to deteriorate faster in high temperatures above 60°C or in high speed rotations. But when used at the optimum speed and temperature that they are designed for, you can get much longer life out of them than any standard greased bearings.”

Because Molded-Oil bearings are practically maintenance-free, Dave says they are also perfectly suited for hard-to-reach applications.

“Normal bearings need their grease replenished regularly. But if the equipment is located in a hard-to-reach position, for example if it’s guarded in a cage or at a high elevation, it’s a great idea to use Molded-Oil bearings. They are also a perfect fit for vertically mounted equipment, where gravity tends to force the grease to flow down through the bearing.”

For harsher environments beyond the limitations of Molded-Oil bearings, NSK have started to supply Graphite Solid Lube bearings. These bearings are a dry, solid graphite formula engineered to seal and lubricate the rolling elements. It exhibits extraordinary performance even in the most difficult applications. This product works at high temperatures (350ºC) and low temperatures (-65ºC) without any change in torque and without the need for seals or shields to keep the lubricant in the bearing.

“These can be submerged in most chemicals like mild acid or alkali and it will not dissolve. It is resistive to deterioration due to radiation or UV. Much like the Molded-Oil™, the graphite improves housekeeping by eliminating the dripping of grease and oil whilst keeping contaminants out of the bearing,” Healey says.

According to Tony, the NSK and BSC support teams often visit industrial plants together to carry out plant audits to help customers with keeping their rotating equipment in top shape.

“Through plant audits, we can help our customers identify the cause of frequent bearing failures and advise them accordingly. Our many years of experience in this area, combined with our knowledge of the best products available in the market, means we can recommend alternative solutions if that would help the plant gain more efficiency in their operation,” says Tony.

Tony says the partnership between NSK and BSC is built upon trust and shared values.

“BSC’s partnership with NSK is a two-way street. We’ve always found NSK to be very supportive of the BSC business. Our sales teams work closely with each other around the country to provide personalised services to our customers,” he concludes.

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