Choice is good. Choice is healthy. Having options allows us to select the most relevant, the most efficient, the most cost-effective, the most attractive, the most compatible option. A “one size fits all” approach is rarely auspicious unless one is purchasing a pair of socks. Sartorial convenience aside, choice is what people want. We want to be presented with options and make our own decisions based on what is best for us. This is particularly apt in the bearings industry today. Choice allows businesses to select the most efficient solution for their specific projects. Manufacturers who are able to provide their customers with a range of products and provide unpartisan advice on the best product range for a given application are surely much more relevant than those who restrict themselves to one material and attempt to “shoe-horn” it into applications where something else is more suited? Here Craig Clydesdale explores the benefits of product choice and the folly of manufacturers who restrict themselves to just one.
Since the very first bearing was patented by the British inventor Philip Vaughan in the 18th century, plain bearings have been made from a multitude of materials to suit a vast range of applications. Typical materials have been wood, bronze, steel/composite, ceramic, glass, sapphire, plastic to name but a few. The list is endless.
Today the most prevalent materials are bronze, metal composites and plastic. Each of these materials has its own unique characteristics which lend them to being more suitable than others for certain applications.
For example; sintered bronze bearings are durable and have good load bearing capabilities, are impregnated with lubricant, can withstand high temperatures, run at high speeds and have excellent corrosion resistance. Hard rolled bronze bearings are durable and can take high loads, can withstand high temperatures, need lubrication and can run at medium to high speeds and have excellent corrosion resistance. Plastic bearings have good sliding properties, are limited on load and temperature and are not good when subjected to high loads when stationary for long periods. They do have excellent corrosion and chemical resistance.
Steel composite bearings mostly are of the wrapped type are usually self-lubricated, can take high loads, can withstand high temperatures and can run at medium to high speeds. Exposure to corrosion needs to be addressed.
Everything in its place
On all projects, multiple considerations are made regarding the bearing application conditions and just what is the best solution to handle such conditions. Temperature, load, lubrication, contamination, speed and interval of use are just a few of these considerations. After these application deliberations, regard needs to be paid to things like ease of maintenance, lubrication and unit cost. The luxury of being able to choose the precise material that will be able to withstand application conditions, lends itself to easy maintenance (or indeed no maintenance) and come within budget is not only convenient but indeed vital to the success of the overall project.
Lets take the purely hypothetical scenario of the installation of a retractable roof onto a sports stadium: The project manager approaches a very reputable manufacturer to install the bearings on the roof. However, this manufacturer can only offer one type of material. Whilst this material is perfectly suited for an array of applications across many industries, the extreme load of the stadium roof causes the bearings to deform after a period of inactivity and the roof to jam the next time it is activated. At great cost and embarrassment, the project manager now needs to remove the previous bearings and approach a supplier who can offer a more suitable material for this bespoke project. This example, whilst hypothetical, is extremely relevant today. Different applications will always require different materials. There is no “one size fits all” range of bearing that is suitable for all applications. If we go back to our clothing analogy for a moment; it is obvious that leather is a fantastic material for all manner of apparel, but there are more appropriate materials when a manufacturer is producing shirts or hosiery.
The point that should to be seriously addressed by engineers and buyers is the need to ensure that when enquiring of manufactures or suppliers, that they do not receive biased advice especially from companies that can only offer one range of product. The “one type fits all” claim can lead to serious design problems and ultimately failure in the field.
Manufacturers who can offer plastic, bronze, steel and composite materials etc. are able to look at each individual project with unbiased eyes. They are not slaves to a particular material and are therefore able to make impartial recommendations as opposed to manufacturers who erroneously state that one range can “do it all”. For the peace of mind to know that you have the correct bearing solution for your project, it is always best to speak to a supplier who can give you a choice of materials.
The very best of NTN’s ball bearings, available in Europe
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
- 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.
New NSK deep groove ball bearings for electric motors boost energy efficiency
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.
NTN-SNR makes food-processing the flavour of the month
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
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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