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NSK Self-Lube bearings help food plant save over €54,000 a year

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As a result of pillow block bearings that were failing every six weeks on the multiple-belt dough-prove section of a process line, a UK-based tortilla wrap manufacturer turned to NSK for help. Investigations by NSK´s expert engineering team attributed the failures to the ingress of flour particulates and set-screw loosening (shaft creep) due to vibration. A recommendation was subsequently made to replace the tortilla wrap manufacturer´s standard pillow block units with Self-Lube Triple-Lip Sealed Units and eccentric locking collars from NSK. The replacement bearing units have successfully extended operating life from six weeks to over one year, resulting in significant cost savings. Flour particulates can be extremely damaging to incorrectly specified bearings on dough-prove belt conveyors

The dough prove at the tortilla wrap manufacturing plant has 42 rollers in total, which prior to the NSK recommendation were each supported by two pillow-block bearing units with a single lip seal and set screw locking arrangement. Rotation speed is around 120-rpm. A belt is wrapped around the rollers to convey the tortilla wraps and retain them for long enough to prove. The tortilla wraps travel from one end of the dough prove, flip over on to the belt below, and travel in the other direction. This sequence is repeated until they enter the oven for baking. Dough-prove conveyors operate in harsh conditions where they are exposed to flour particulates and metallic debris from chain and sprocket wear (a number of rollers on dough-prove conveyors are typically driven by sprockets and chain). For the tortilla wrap manufacturer, this operating environment meant that two mounted bearing units and one 35mm diameter shaft required replacement approximately every six weeks. The bearings were reported as damaged beyond use due to heavy contamination and creep damage to the bore, while the roller had to be replaced due to an undersized shaft diameter at the bearing fitting surface (from wear damage caused by creep). Every failure would require a significant number of man hours to perform the replacement, and bring about substantial machine downtime and costly production losses. In contrast, the introduction of NSK Self-Lube Triple-Lip Sealed Units has produced zero failures over a 12-month period. These bearing units feature a nitrile rubber triple lip that is bonded to a protective pressed-steel shield. As a result, longer bearing life is achieved through superior seal performance. Additionally, the bearing units provide extended re-lubrication intervals, which in turn greatly reduces maintenance costs and increases the productivity of machinery and equipment. In total, the annual savings at the tortilla wrap manufacturer have been calculated at €54,665. Self-Lube Triple-Lip Sealed Units offer simple implementation and represent a ready replacement for existing bearing units. They are available for both set-screw and eccentric locking collar insert options, in metric and imperial bore sizes. Importantly for the application at the tortilla wrap manufacturer, the selection of eccentric locking collars successfully reduced insert loosening in service, without damaging the shaft. 

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Bearings

The very best of NTN’s ball bearings, available in Europe

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In step with a process launched last year, CM internal clearance is now spreading to the whole range of deep-groove ball bearings so that bore diameter codes 00 to 06 are also available in the coming months. Initially designed for applications with stringent requirements – electric motors in particular – NTN deep-groove ball bearings with CM internal clearance make up the brand’s new offer. They feature major improvements in terms of internal radial clearance and noise levels. These qualities are guaranteed by strict control procedures during the manufacturing process. With this range, NTN-SNR is offering higher-quality deep-groove ball bearings that can take the place of the standard references used in industry. By further enhancing its own standard, NTN-SNR has once again highlighted its determination to provide all its customers, distributors and end users with the very best of NTN Japanese design.

A noticeable reduction in sound level 

NTN deep-groove ball bearings with CM internal clearance were originally designed specially for electric motor applications which require particularly quiet bearings. These CM bearings feature radial internal clearance that lies within the limits of normal internal clearance, but with reduced clearance tolerances (for example, for a bore diameter of 50 mm, a bearing with normal internal clearance would have clearance of 6 to 23 microns, whereas a product with CM internal clearance has one of 9 to 17 microns). 

This innovative technical characteristic significantly reduces the bearing’s vibration levels and, therefore, the noise that it makes when in operation. Laboratory tests reveal a reduction of up to -3 dB: a noise level reduced by half when compared with conventional standard-clearance products. 

CM clearance is obtained thanks to excellent control of the manufacturing process and NTN’s recognised know-how. Every part we manufacture is inspected to guarantee clearance and noise levels.

The range of NTN deep-groove ball bearings with CM internal clearance 

249 references in individual boxes 

  • Bore diameters of 10 to 160 mm 

Deep-groove ball bearings 

  • Open 
  • With deflectors, 5K grease 
  • With contact seals, 5K grease 
  • With non-contact seals, 5K grease

Easy implementation for the user: Fully interchangeable parts, regardless of the dimensions 

These bearings with CM internal clearance feature assembly parameters that are identical to those of their counterparts with normal internal clearance and they are fully interchangeable. They have the same load capacities and identical performance levels as regards rotation speed. For the sealed references (deflectors and seals), the products are provided greased for life using a high-performance grease (suffix 5K). 

To ensure customers can easily identify the upgrade, the bearing designation systematically includes the CM suffix. The initial parts are already on sale. Roll-out of this range of ball bearings will be completed soon. 

NTN-SNR is the only actor on the European market to offer ball bearings of this quality, thus confirming its premium positioning and its determination to deploy “made by NTN” quality on its industrial markets.

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Bearings

New NSK deep groove ball bearings for electric motors boost energy efficiency

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The low energy consumption of electric drives is an important target in many industrial applications, and rolling bearings can play a role in delivering this ambition. NSK demonstrates this effect with a new series of deep groove ball bearings that generates up to 80% less energy loss, a factor that has a positive effect on the energy efficiency of electric motors.

Before this development, NSK conducted an intensive investigation into the parameters influencing the energy loss of bearings, drawing a number of interesting conclusions. As a result, the new bearing series uses new grease that has been specially developed for friction reduction, while the grease filling level has also been optimised. 

In comparison with a conventional deep groove ball bearing, the new NSK high-efficiency bearings demonstrate 60% less friction when using a steel cage. If a plastic cage is used, internal friction is reduced even further, by almost 80%. As a further benefit, service life with the new grease is increased by a factor of 2.7.

NSK Europe is the European organisation of the Tokyo-based bearing manufacturer NSK, which was founded in Japan in 1916 and today employs around 31,000 people in its worldwide operations. The products and solutions provided by the industrial and automotive supplier can be found wherever things move. In addition to nearly all types of rolling bearings, the company´s portfolio includes housed bearings, linear technology, wheel bearing units, transmission and engine bearings and steering systems. The company is oriented to perfection in all of its business activities. Its aim is quality leadership in its industry, which it strives for through a continuous process of improvement, excellent product development, optimised production processes and customer-oriented service processes.

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Bearings

NTN-SNR makes food-processing the flavour of the month

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NTN-SNR, a leader in precision mechanics, is pressing ahead with food safety. The company plans to invest in its solutions for the food-processing industry as a way to optimise and strengthen its short-term range. The goal is to achieve optimal production with no risk to the user. This is necessary investment for a sector with increasingly stringent standards…

The average cost worldwide for product recalls in the food-processing industry was €7.92 million between 2012-2017. In 75% of cases, the causes were contamination with bacteria or allergens, or the presence of a foreign body. Despite strict standards, the food-processing market is the French industry leader, with a turnover of € 180 billion in 2017. It also ranks second among industrial sectors most affected by product recalls and withdrawals (16%), after the automotive industry. This presents a risk both to consumers’ health and to companies’ reputations, which are suffering considerable losses.

With this in mind, NTN-SNR, with its 30-year market presence, is pooling its strengths and developing its dedicated teams with a view to making the food-processing business its new battleground. The company’s repositioning brings fresh challenges, including rethinking and reintegrating all of the sector’s constraints, and reidentifying the various segments and ranges to meet each need as accurately as possible, while remaining accessible to all market participants.

A highly constrained environment

With its high-pressure washing, cleaning agents, humidity, fine particles, hygiene standards, high production rates, etc., the food-processing industry is a highly constrained environment.

NTN-SNR relies on its expertise to ensure that health standards-compliant, sustainable production is tailored to each sector of activity.

As of this year, the company is focusing on developing its existing ranges, with Germany and Italy as the main European targets for machine manufacture and France and Spain for maintenance.

NTN-SNR’s short-term food-processing market goals are to eliminate incident risks, reduce maintenance times to increase profitability, and to ensure peace of mind.

Fully suited solutions

To this end, the company offers a wide range of bearings, lubrication solutions, linear guides and stainless steel or thermoplastic self-aligning bearings. NTN-SNR has chosen to offer all-stainless steel bearings, where some market players only offer it for the insert, in combination with an anti-corrosion coated housing. The inserts are equipped with an elastomer seal protected by a shield to counter any impact or mechanical stress. As for the additional protective caps, they are provided with a radial or double-lip seal, offering additional resistance to high-pressure washes, even when in direct contact. These systems are true shields against moisture and dirt.

For added convenience, NTN-SNR inserts are available with Lubsolid® solid food grease. Fifty-five percent of premature bearing failures result from improper lubrication – a fact that led the company to design its flawless lubricant. The polymer matrix containing a large amount of oil completely fills the free space inside the bearing. As a result, neither pollutants nor water can enter.

The grease’s solid state means that it cannot flow, ensuring the cleanliness of your environment.

These properties increase the duration life of the bearing by up to 20 times compared to a part lubricated using a standard high-performance grease.

The appeal of this technology and growing user demand are behind the company’s plans to invest in its solid food grease. The goal is to secure production while increasing its manufacturing capabilities.

3 questions to Kévin Gay, NTN-SNR Market Manager

Kévin Gay, NTN-SNR Market Manager

Kévin Gay, NTN-SNR Market Manager

Why has NTN-SNR decided that this is the time to strengthen its presence in the food-processing industry?

It’s a gigantic market. The food-processing industry is the largest European manufacturing market. Market constraints mean that innovation is a constant, necessary feature.

NTN-SNR is one of the world’s leading bearings manufacturers. It is known in particular for its presence in the automotive, industry and aerospace markets. The company is also a player – albeit a more cautious one – in the food-processing market. Now, however, it seems vital that we emphasise our solutions and further develop our ranges to put forward options that are increasingly adapted to the many demands encountered by today’s manufacturers.

What is NTN-SNR’s added value compared to the competition?

Every experienced market player has high levels of technical skill and specific expertise (bearings, ball bearings, etc.). That being said, while designing reliable, innovative and qualitative products is essential to protect against bacterial growth, you can’t ignore the cost. Certain premium-quality ranges on the market have a rather high price tag. However, of the 300,000 companies making up the European market, 99% are SMEs with sometimes limited maintenance resources. As a result, they are forced to turn to lower cost solutions. For NTN-SNR, guaranteeing the accessibility of quality products in terms of cost to all food-processing stakeholders offers peace of mind.

What do you mean by “peace of mind”?

“Peace of mind” is one of the cornerstones and drivers for how we respond to the constraints of the food-processing business. It has several aspects.

First, there is health-related peace of mind – of the consumer, of course, but also of the manufacturer. On the business side, economic peace of mind is also a key point. With quality equipment, the maintenance manager can increase his operating intervals, thus increasing production. Peace of mind thus equates to saving time, productivity and profitability.

A wide range

  • Topline ball bearings
  • Thermoplastic mounted units
  • Stainless steel mounted units
  • Stainless steel ball bearings
  • Linear axis and ball bushings
  • Lubsolid®, solid food grease
  • Lubrication solutions
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