NSK’s Molded-Oil technology has produced annual savings of $127,500 for a major food producer on the operation of two food production conveyors.
The result of these failures was lost production time, running at $5000 per month/line, maintenance costs of $3000 per year/line, and bearing replacement costs of $1700 per annum.
The producer was experiencing failures every 4 to 6 weeks with ball bearing inserts on the conveyor lines, due to regular high-pressure washdowns that were causing grease wash-out from the bearings, seal damage and corrosion.
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 cost saving programme was called in to give advice.
The engineer immediately identified the problem of water washout, which is extremely common in food processing applications. This is the tendency of lubricant to be flushed out of conventional bearings subjected to repeated washdowns. The loss of lubricant is usually progressive rather than immediate; but the result is inevitably the same: premature failure of the bearing or bearings concerned.
NSK has worked with food industry majors on this problem, and developed a very effective solution, know as Molded-Oil. Molded-Oil bearings employ a special solid lubricant that effectively addresses loss of lubricant resulting from washdowns Molded-Oil transforms the performance of machinery, in terms of reliability, maintenance- free intervals and operation, in corrosive and contaminated environments.
Molded-Oil can provide up to 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 lubricant replenishment, as Molded-Oil provides a continuous supply of lubricating oil.
NSK recommended F-UC204/LP99 stainless steel Molded-Oil bearing inserts to overcome the existing failure modes. These bearings (costing $970/line) were ordered for trial on one production line, and after 12 months there were no reported failures. A complete bearing change across the second line was then implemented by the customer, resulting in total cost savings across the two lines of $127,500 per annum.