Alan Stewart of bearings distributor Rubix writes
Utilized in each conceivable manufacturing utility, bearings maintain manufacturing rolling by transferring movement and transmitting forces. Particular person bearings use comparatively little vitality, however as they’re in such widespread use and are additionally one of the regularly changed elements, the sustainability of the bearings you employ issues. By making use of the three Rs of the waste hierarchy – Cut back, Reuse, Recycle – to this class of part, we will make a real distinction.
Is it potential to cut back the variety of bearings used? Effectively, you’ll be able to’t merely not use a bearing the place one is required, however by extending their life you’ll be able to scale back the entire variety of bearings used throughout that machine’s lifespan.
To make sure longevity, choose the suitable bearing for the duty at hand. There’s an extremely wide selection to select from, lots of which have been designed for particular functions and industries. Within the meals sector, for instance, specialist business fryer bearing items have been designed that enable the new cooking oil contained in the fryer to enter the bearing and act as a lubricant. A very completely different sector, but one which additionally presents harsh working situations for bearings, is wind vitality. Right here, a raft of specialist bearings is on the market, together with SKF Black Oxide Bearings which give wind generators with enhanced safety from corrosion, improved resistance in opposition to smearing, improved efficiency in low-lubrication situations, restricted threat of fretting and lowered threat of harm from aggressive oil components. It’s essential to do your homework or ask for recommendation on the bearing finest suited to your particular wants.
Not solely ought to the bearing be the suitable sort, however it must also be of a superb high quality. Choosing a low price, unrecognisable model not solely dangers untimely failure and dear downtime, however it could additionally lose efficiency over time which just about all the time leads to wasted vitality as most programs maintain drawing energy regardless of the drop or lack of output. Each second of wasted manufacturing equates to wasted vitality and impacts on a days’ manufacturing targets.
Making certain product is appropriately fitted additionally has a component to play. Misalignment can result in friction and vibration which might considerably improve vitality consumption, plus the danger of untimely failures. While instruments are available which permit for bearings to be simply and precisely aligned, designing equipment with bearings that don’t require realignment could show to be a safer choice. SKF Cooper Cut up Spherical Curler Bearings, for instance, don’t require the drive coupling or the cantilevered drive to be dismounted to exchange the bearing; these bearing sorts are simply and safely changed in situ, for optimum comfort.
Decreasing water and detergent utilization in washdowns – a selected problem for pharmaceutical and meals & drink sectors – is a serious problem. What’s extra, the waste water from this cleansing is usually contaminated from extra bearing grease. This may be lowered through the use of sealed, re-lubrication free bearings corresponding to SKF’s Meals Line ball bearing items – Blue Vary, which require 33% much less heated water for cleansing when in comparison with open bearing items. Moreover, there isn’t a lubricant to infect the waste water, plus no cleansing rags and paper towels to eliminate.
Cut back the quantity of lubrication you employ through the use of sealed, re-lubrication free bearings. There are various to select from however if you’re taking a look at tools that shall be utilized in very demanding websites, corresponding to mines and quarries, then you really want to have a look at one thing like SKF’s Three-barrier resolution. It consists of a bearing housing – with labyrinth S seals, a lubricant to behave as a contamination barrier and sealed spherical curler bearing. These three boundaries shield the bearing from contaminants, resulting in prolonged bearing service life on common thrice longer than customary open bearings.
Sealed bearing items additionally assist to cut back lubrication utilization. Alternatively, automated lubrication programs could be put in to make sure the right amount of lubrication is utilized, decreasing wastage and eradicating reliance on workers to undertake this job manually. Designed to lubricate particular person machines or full crops, automated lubrication programs present exact lubricant portions on the appropriate intervals to all required factors, minimising friction and put on, and optimising bearing and equipment service life. Not solely is there a lowered environmental influence, however as much as 50% financial savings in lubricant prices as a consequence of correct timing and dosing of lubricants could be achieved.
In relation to Reuse, chances are you’ll be stunned to listen to that bearings could be remanufactured, which might considerably extend bearing service life, in addition to scale back price and lead instances. A big number of bearing sorts could be remanufactured, together with backing bearings, caster bearings, massive sized bearings, slewing bearings and housings. Bearing remanufacturing can considerably scale back carbon emissions, consuming round 10% of the vitality of constructing a brand new one. By extending bearing service, remanufacturing avoids the scrapping of elements and wasteful use of pure sources.
Along with bearings remanufacture, lubricants can be reused in some circumstances. SKF’s RecondOil, for instance, removes contaminants from used oils, and returns them to a cleaner, usable and high-grade state. In comparison with a conventional, linear use, regenerating the oils permits for a big lower of CO2 emissions.
While the quantity of metal per bearing is on the decline as a consequence of higher bearing design and extra environment friendly manufacturing strategies, that metal nonetheless has a worth as scrap. Not all bearings are straightforward to recycle although and usually solely components of them could be recycled. Examine with the producer.
Past the product
The 3Rs are a superb place to begin to assist enhance the sustainability of your bearings utilization, however you’ll be able to’t apply sustainability to the product in isolation. It’s essential to take note of each facet surrounding that product, together with the producer and its suppliers and distributors. Sustainability ought to embody using uncooked supplies; the producer’s manufacturing facility processes and utilisation of these supplies; the quantity and sort of vitality used to make the bearings; distribution and transportation. Does the producer deploy the IS0 14001 Environmental Administration System and the ISO 50001 Vitality Administration system throughout all of its websites, for instance? What are their Web Zero plans?
Decreasing wastage in the case of bearings shouldn’t be solely good for the planet, however makes good enterprise sense. A bearing that performs nicely over a protracted time period is a bearing that gained’t sluggish equipment down and gained’t result in costly unplanned upkeep and downtime. Making use of the three Rs to bearings is an efficient funding sooner or later, whichever approach you take a look at it.
Alan Stewart is Rubix Bearing Product Supervisor with SKF Merchandise. Rubix is a number one European authorised bearings distributor, promoting over 100 million bearings yearly. Learn its new bearings sustainability brochure, produced with bearings producer SKF, at uk.rubix.com/provider/skf.