NSK's Molded-Oil technology has produced annual savings of more than €27,000 for a major food producer on the operation of the main make-up conveyor within a bakery. The producer was experiencing failures every 6 weeks with approximately 36 bearings being replaced every year, which was causing considerable downtime and lost production.
In the highly competitive and pressurised world of food processing, these costs were obviously unsustainable; so an initiative was launched with a view to sourcing more durable bearings. As part of this initiative an engineer from NSK's Added Value programme, AIP, was called in to give advice. The NSK application review determined that the bearings had failed due to a lack of lubrication as well as the ingress of water and hard particulates.
Having completed the review, NSK recommended the installation of Molded-Oil bearings on a trial basis in order to demonstrate the benefits in reliability. That trial has been on-going for more than two years and not one bearing failure has been experienced. This clearly represents a very significant improvement over the original average bearing life of just six weeks and the client has made a substantial saving in production efficiency by avoiding lost production costs.
Molded-Oil technology has been developed by NSK to greatly improve the performance of bearings in terms of reliability and to deliver maintenance-free operation. Molded-Oil bearings use an oil-impregnated polyolefin resin to provide lubrication to the bearing. Although similar designs are used by other bearing manufacturers, NSK provides a lubricating oil content of more than 50 percent by volume considerably more than the competition.
Molded-Oil is a patented lubrication medium specifically developed for situations requiring high levels of hygiene, such as in the food and beverage industries. Molded-Oil lubricant is supplied via a mechanism that releases the lubricant gradually. This ensures that the required amount of lubrication is provided to the bearing over long periods of time. At the same time, the risk of oil leakages is minimised making the bearings outstandingly smooth running and highly unlikely to cause any kind of contamination.
The technical characteristics of the material provide a consistent lubrication flow, which is temperature dependent, so as the heat generation increases, so does the oil discharge rate. Bearings using the Molded-Oil technology provide a solution to loss of lubricant in bearings subject to water ingress.
NSK is offering this technology on standard deep groove ball bearings, spherical roller bearings and tapered roller bearings with inside diameters up to 110mm. For applications where corrosive environments exist or some food production facilities, the bearings can be manufactured from stainless steel.
Rolling bearings are key components in food and beverage processing machinery and equipment, their reliability and operating life has a significant effect in ensuring that operating costs are controlled. Moreover, as the pace of bearing technology accelerates, opportunities for technology transfer mean that bearings can play a wider role in reducing the whole life costs of food processing machines. This is achieved not by supplying cheaper components, but by applying the latest materials, sealing and lubrication technology to improve the machine design and reduce its maintenance costs.