January 12, 2022
  • January 12, 2022

Unroll the cold beer

By on July 5, 2021 0

To explain why over-lubricating bearings can be troublesome, Chris Wheatley, food and beverage manager at BSC Agriculture, uses a donut analogy.

“There’s only a certain amount of jam you can fill in a donut before the jam spills over from the other end.” Likewise, if you over-lubricate a bearing, the seals can dislodge, allowing contamination in the bearing, ”said Wheatley,

“High operating temperatures can also occur with a high volume of grease. Too much grease in the bearing cavity will increase the pressure on the rotating bearing elements and start churning the grease. This will lead to oxidation, which is the separation of the oil from the thickener.

And while lightly filled donuts can be a disappointment, undergreased bearings can have the same life-shortening effect as over-greasing, as Wheatley explains.

“Undergreased bearings also tend to heat up quickly when there is no lubricating film between the rolling elements. Metal-to-metal contact will dramatically shorten the service life, ”he said.

Maintaining the optimum amount of grease in the bearings was something that a customer of the CBC Regency Park branch, a large independent brewer in Adelaide, sought to eliminate from their maintenance routine altogether.

“It’s a big plant, and they have multiple conveyors running in their bottling line,” Wheatley said.

“The bearings on these conveyors failed frequently and the maintenance team was looking for a solution that would extend the life of the bearings with minimal maintenance. “

The CBC Regency Park branch has supported the brewery with all of its bearing and power transmission needs for over 20 years.

So when Andrew Fant, CBC Major Accounts Manager, recommended that the brewery switch to NSK Molded-OilTM bearings for their bottling conveyors, they immediately accepted the solution.

Cast oil bearings are a class of bearings from NSK that do not require lubrication. Bearings are lubricated for life with Molded-Oil, NSK’s own oil-impregnated material which is composed of lubricating oil and polyolefin resin. As the bearing spins and heats up, the oil slowly drains from the molded oil and keeps the bearing lubricated for an extended period of time.

With the bottling process involving heavy water washing to clean the bottles, Andrew recommended NSK stainless steel spherical roller bearings with oil cast for the application.

Since adopting the solution in 2018, Wheatley says the plant has not experienced any abrupt bearing failures.

“As each conveyor bearing fails, the maintenance crew replaces it with the equivalent Molded-Oil stainless steel bearing,” he said.

“Since the program started in 2018, they’ve checked the bearings every time they had a scheduled maintenance shutdown, but the NSK bearings didn’t have to be replaced. CBC keeps a record of the bearings sold to each customer and the order for new bearings from this particular plant has declined significantly since the switch to cast oil.

In addition to saving on bearing costs, says Wheatley, the plant also saved on manpower hours required to lubricate the bearings and the cost of grease.

“This is where the benefits of the NSK Molded-Oil bearing really come to the fore. These bearings perform well in environments contaminated with water and dust, and they are designed to prevent fluids from washing the lubricating oil out of the bearing, ”he said.

Despite the many benefits that solid grease bearings like NSK Molded-Oil have in food and beverage processing plants, Chris says there are still many who are reluctant to use them just because of the cost.

“The mistake a lot of people make is that they look at the initial cost of bearings and don’t factor in the life savings. But if you are extending the life of your bearings and your maintenance team no longer has to worry about checking and lubricating the bearings on a regular basis, it is definitely worth considering whether a solid grease bearing is the right solution. for your plant, ”said Wheatley.

“All CBC staff are trained by the NSK team on the features and benefits of their bearings and we have experienced engineers like Andrew Fant who put their knowledge and expertise to work for some of the largest food manufacturers and of drinks in Australia. We share this knowledge when we visit an industrial factory, as in the case of this brewery. “


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