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NSK’s ability to provide cost saving solutions to bearing problems across all types of industries was demonstrated recently by an application in the confectionary industry. NSK deployed its Asset Improvement Programme (AIP) on behalf of a manufacturer of sugar coated sweets. The result has been a savings on annual bearings and maintenance costs of £130,000 per annum, and the consequent benefits of improved reliability and increased productivity.
The nature of the bearing problem experienced by the confectionery manufacturer was water ingress into the bearings on a conveyor carrying sweets. This was causing crystallisation of sugar on the equipment, and subsequent costly machine breakdowns, resulting in lost production, which was costing the company over £254,000 per year.
Obviously this ongoing cost was unsustainable; so an initiative was launched with a view to sourcing more durable bearings. As part of this initiative, engineers from NSK’s Asset Improvement Programme (AIP) were called in to give advice. AIP is designed for end-user bearing customers that are looking for more than just product supply. Rather, they are looking for a value-added service that actually helps them to improve reliability, reduce operating costs, and improve efficiency and profitability. These objectives are achieved by delivering tangible savings to assets, such as equipment and machinery, and also by improving the working knowledge of maintenance and engineering personnel.
The NSK engineers identified the sugar crystallisation problem and suggested a solution using NSK’s Molded OilTM bearings. These units employ a special solid lubricant to transform the performance of machinery, in terms of reliability, maintenance free intervals and operation, in environments exposed to high humidity, corrosion and contamination.
Molded Oil offers more than twice the operating life of grease lubrication in water contaminated environments. Moreover, the technology means that operating environments are kept free of grease; and there is no need for refilling of lubricant, as Molded Oil provides a continuous supply of lubricating oil.
As part of NSK’s recommended solution, Molded-Oil bearing inserts were fitted to the conveyor and trialled over an extended period of 18-months. The trial was a complete success, resulting in the manufacturer ordering Molded-Oil inserts to replace all original bearings when they failed. As an added benefit, regreasing has now been eliminated, representing an additional major saving in labour and downtime. In addition, the company has taken up another aspect of NSK’s recommended solution, its AIP Care and Maintenance Training programme, as a security against possible future problems in other areas of its production.