Steelworks saves thousands on bearings01 March 2010

Savings of a staggering _372,558 per annum are being reported on an annealing process line accumulator sheave at a major UK steelworks, following
bespoke redesign of the bearing assembly.

According to technicians at the unnamed plant, the line concerned was experiencing unplanned downtime of around 17 hours per year, at a cost of _21,915 per hour. Each stoppage also meant that heavy lifting gear had to be hired and additional maintenance staff employed.

After analysing the failed bearings, NSK engineers redesigned the assembly to make it more robust, using crane sheave bearings normally used for quarries, ports and building sites.

NSK says it selected these bearings for their high load capacity and good levels of sealing, both of which made them ideal for the arduous conditions in steel making.Trials proved that maintenance-free operating life was more than three times longer than that of the original bearings. Indeed, according to an NSK spokesperson, the calculations show an operating life of at least five years.

"We knew from previous steel industry experience that crane sheave bearings would deliver the optimum solution in this application," he says.

"They are essentially full complement cylindrical roller bearings, offering an advanced sealing system that minimises grease leakage, and increases resistance to the entry of water and other substances."

Their ability to provide reliable life in difficult environments is partly due to machined holes, on the inner and outer rings, that allow greasing while the bearing is in place. In addition, the bearings are supplied with phosphate surface treatment to improve resistance to corrosion.

Brian Tinham

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