Company - 2014-05-14
A small problem can have a big knock-on effect: this is a simple way to sum up what often happens when a bearing is damaged or a linear guide or ball screw fails. The repercussions for a machine or plant can be huge. All it takes is for a single part to fail prematurely and the whole facility or production line can grind to a halt.
Failures of this kind often do not stem from fundamental construction errors and maintenance professionals do not have to accept them as par for the course. Quite the opposite: with the right expertise, it is possible to systematically investigate and precisely identify why drive components are failing prematurely, then quickly rectify the problem.
Structured process with a special value cycle
As one of the world’s largest producers of bearings and ball screws, NSK has this expertise at its fingertips. The company not only shares its know-how with OEMs, i.e. direct clients in the mechanical engineering, plant construction and vehicle manufacturing sectors, it also makes it available to end-users in all branches of industry. This knowledge is shared via the Added Value Programme AIP, which takes the form of a fixed methodology known as the AIP Value Cycle. The process was structured so as to deliver the greatest possible benefit in all areas where bearings and linear systems are used. Ultimately the goal is to boost plant’s reliability, thereby increasing the profitability and efficiency of production facilities. AIP is geared towards bringing about long-term improvements with a clearly defined return on investment.
Each Value Cycle starts with a detailed survey covering everything from the user’s production processes to a review of the individual bearing positions and the components used. The operating conditions and loading acting on the bearings and linear systems are also recorded accurately as a matter of course.
All of the data which is compiled provides a good basis for identifying critical applications and developing proposed solutions which will extend bearing life. At this stage, the AIP team do not just take the surrounding structure into account. They also look particularly closely at the choice of bearings, linear guides and ball screws.
Concrete solution is proposed, implemented and tested
The engineers know from their experience of hundreds of cases that selecting components which are less than ideal is the most common cause of premature failure and yet there are series of bearings designed specifically for all ranges of industries. These range from dirty environments and high temperatures to slow running combined with high forces, etc. The overall design of these special series is tailored specifically to the application in question, as are the materials used for the balls, rolling surfaces, cages, the seal construction and the lubricant.
Contamination often causes bearings to fail. With this in mind, the NSK experts also evaluate the way in which users store bearings and linear components, the standards which apply to their handling when working on solutions as part of the AIP programme. A number of mistakes are commonly made in practice here too, which can be rectified by the range of training offered by NSK.
Cost savings are clearly presented
In the next stage of the Value Cycle, the proposed solution is put to the test: the recommended components are fitted to the machine and a trial started to prove the NSK solution. The service life of the new components is taken into account along with the cost of maintenance and the necessary investment is compared with the savings associated with less downtime. At the end of this fourth step, NSK’s experts will produce a cost saving statement comparing the NSK solution with the original design and detailing all of the benefit. In the fifth and final stage, this sequence can be repeated any number of times to initiate a process of ongoing improvements. It can also be transferred to other production sites, machinery, units or bearing positions.
Benefits become clear in practice
NSK’s marketing organisations and sales offices all around the world use this standardised process. They can draw on experience gathered from advising customers in hundreds of cases throughout every branch of industry. If there is one conclusion that can be drawn from all of these projects, it is that users always benefit from taking up this service and optimising their bearings or linear systems in a targeted fashion. It does not usually cost much to replace components or provide an in-house training course, but the advantages are huge, the investment quickly pays off and the impact is lasting.
A number of examples show what a difference tailored advice based on the AIP Value Cycle can make. For instance, a food-processing company replaced a housed bearing in a vegetable washing machine with a Life-Lube® housed bearing packed with the solid lubricant Molded-Oil. This saved the firm €9.540 a year. Another company from the woodworking industry racked up annual savings of €79.000 by replacing conventional tapered roller bearings with a Self-Lube® housed bearing.
At a cold rolling mill, NSK’s experts recommended using Water-TF steel bearings instead of components made from standard bearing steel. The new bearings lasted considerably longer in dirty environments, generating savings of €26.400 per annum. In another case from the steel industry, the costs associated with an annealing process line were reduced by no less than €372.000 a year – simply by selecting bearings which were fit for purpose. More examples can be found on the NSK website, www.nskeurope.com, under ‘Services/Added Value Programme – AIP’. These case studies look at linear guides and ball screws as well as bearings. Optimising these drive technology components can result in similar savings to those which can be achieved by selecting the best possible bearings.
App calculates potential savings
NSK recently launched a proprietary App which will allow customers to make their own cost saving calculation. The cost savings calculator works out the current total bearing cost (including servicing, downtime, etc.) and compares this with the anticipated total cost of ownership once the Added Value Programme tools have been used to advise the client. This clearly shows the expected savings potential.
With our Added Value Programme AIP, we can solve your problems. We support you to make your operations and maintenance processes more efficient and therefore more profitable. Thereby you can save money at each value-added-step.
Our experts use a tried and tested method to develop the ideal solution for your specific application, working with you and taking every detail of your requirements into account.
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