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Bearing failure reduced significantly

18 March 2019

A large bakery has switched to NSK Molded-Oil bearings in its cake-cutting machines after experiencing repeat failures on the integral blade saw pulleys, immediately reducing maintenance costs and increasing productivity, leading to total savings of approximately €9400 a year.

With around 20 bearing sets (40 individual bearings) being replaced annually, the bakery turned to NSK for a solution to its problem. NSK engineers commenced an application review as part of the company’s AIP Added Value Programme, concluding that the failures were caused by the ingress of hard water and particulates.

In many food processing machines, bearings are exposed to challenging conditions, such as frequent wash-out with water, steam and/or high-pressure water jets. To help combat these threats, NSK recommended replacing the standard bearings on the bakery’s cake-cutting machines with Molded-Oil units (ball bearing types). A trial was implemented under supervision by NSK and, since commissioning, bearing failures have reduced significantly. In fact, the NSK bearings are providing extended life to 26 weeks (six months), an improvement of some four-to-six times in comparison with the standard bearings.

NSK’s Molded-Oil bearings (stainless steel variant) are ideal for applications in food and beverage plants. Not only do they prevent the ingress of contaminants such as water and particulates, but no lubricant can escape the bearing and enter other parts of the machine, where it could conceivably contact food.

Molded-Oil bearings are equipped with a proprietary oil-impregnated material that consists of lubricating oil and a polyolefin resin with an affinity for oil. This carrier material releases the lubricant continuously over a long period. The operating environment is therefore kept clean as no grease is released and no oil refilling is needed.

To provide an indication of the savings achieved, the bakery previously required a high number of man hours to replace its failed standard bearings, while there would also be extended downtime for the cake-cutting machines, leading to a loss of production. Taking into account factors such as bearing costs, labour costs, lost man hours, and blade and shaft replacement, annual savings for the bakery as a result of adopting NSK Molded-Oil bearings have been calculated at €9324.