Horizontal machining centres are used frequently in the production of industrial heat exchangers

Horizontal machining centres are used frequently in the production of industrial heat exchangers

NSK helps machine shop save costs

Switching to sealed, high-precision, angular contact ball bearings is saving a heat exchanger manufacturer over $25,000 a year

01 January 2017

When a manufacturer of heat exchangers was experiencing frequent production stoppages due to bearing damage on the spindles of its horizontal machining centres, the company turned to Japanese major Nippon Seiko Kabushiki Kaisha (NSK) for a solution.

After comprehensive analysis, NSK recommended fitting its sealed, high-precision, angular contact ball bearings, a move that is helping the facility to save €24,000 ($25,404) per annum in replacement bearings and labour costs alone.

When first experiencing the repeated failures, the operations manager at the heat exchanger manufacturer asked NSK to conduct a failure analysis. Within the framework of NSK´s AIP Added Value Programme, company experts examined the failed angular contact ball bearings, as well as the quality of the lubricant and the operating environment conditions.

It was discovered that coolant and metallic particles – both by-products of the machining process – had penetrated the bearings. The result was deterioration of the bearing lubricant, which consequently caused the bearing units themselves to fail.

To overcome the issue, NSK proposed the use of its sealed, high-precision, angular contact ball bearings, which are deployed widely as spindle bearings in the machine tool industry. These bearings have contactless seals that are designed to deliver exemplary resistance to the penetration of contaminants without causing friction to increase, or spindle performance to drop.

Fitting sealed, high-precision, angular contact ball bearings save costs

Fitting sealed, high-precision, angular contact ball bearings save costs

To help accommodate the increased axial loads exerted on spindles often present in horizontal machining centres, NSK installed bearings with a higher contact angle. As a result of adopting this recommendation, the heat exchanger manufacturer has been able to increase the operational life of the bearings: after fitting NSK bearings to three of its horizontal machining centres, spindle bearing operating life increased on average by a factor of 12.

Based on the previous cost of replacing bearings (as well as labour costs for installation), the heat exchanger manufacutrer is realising annual cost savings of €24,000 as a direct consequence of switching to NSK´s sealed, high-precision, angular contact ball bearings. Moreover, this figure does not include the costs incurred from any previous lost productivity or production downtime.

Along with significantly increased operational life, further benefits of NSK bearings being enjoyed by the customer include reduced noise and vibration in the drive train, as well as far quicker installation in comparison with standard bearings without seals.

Established 100 years ago, NSK has evolved from a regional ball bearing supplier to a roller bearing specialist and automotive supplier with a global market presence. Today, NSK employs more than 31,500 employees in 30 countries. This result has been driven by ever-increasing investment in research and development, enabling the company to continuously improve the quality of its products and services. This investment supports NSK´s objective of `No 1 in Total Quality”. In addition to a complete rolling bearing portfolio, NSK develops and manufactures precision components and mechatronic products, as well as systems and components for the automotive industry, including wheel bearing units and electric power-steering systems.

In 1963, NSK´s first European subsidiary, Düsseldorf, Germany, was opened and in 1976, the first European production facility in Peterlee, England. Today, NSK Europe supports pan-European sales with production locations in England, Poland and Germany, logistics centres in the Netherlands, Germany and England and technology centres in Germany, England and Poland. In 1990, NSK purchased the UPI Group including the renowned European bearing manufacturer RHP, with its factory in Newark (UK). Additionally, NSK has developed a comprehensive network of authorised sales distributors. NSK Europe is divided into application-based business divisions: Industry rolling bearing technologies and linear and precision technology (EIBU) as well as bearing modules and steering systems for the automotive industry. In this organisation, NSK Europe’s 3,500 employees achieved a turnover of over €1,000 million per March 2016.

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