Company - 2016-03-11
Employing over 200 people at its Kendal headquarters, Gilkes has a history in engineering innovation that dates back more than 160 years. Although the company’s hydro products and pumps are renowned in markets around the world, with an ethos of continuous improvement this forward-thinking business opted for a short training course on bearings following a routine meeting with NSK.
"Gilkes have been a customer of ours since the 1980s, and it was during a courtesy visit that the topic of training arose," explains Andrew Fletcher, Applications Engineer at NSK’s European Industrial Business Unit. "We discussed the NSK training portfolio and Gilkes expressed keen interest."
Products manufactured by Gilkes use an array of NSK deep groove ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings and double row angular contact bearings. However, conscious of its shortfall in bearing knowledge, the company immediately took up NSK’s training offer.
The two training sessions were delivered at the company’s Kendal facility to a total of 14 participants, a cross-section of senior design engineers, production engineers, maintenance engineers and apprentices.
Importantly, the attendees were asked to come up with 10 questions about bearings that they wanted the course to answer.
"During the course we covered the answers to the 10 questions in detail," says Mr Fletcher. "As a result, Gilkes got exactly what they needed from the training, plus a host of additional information that will hopefully prove extremely useful."
The course included sessions on bearing types and characteristics, different bearing sealing arrangements, internal clearances, lubrication, bearing failure modes and a host of additional topics. To help maximise engagement levels, the course also included an informal practical element whereby the attendees were asked to build a bearing unit against the clock to see who could do it the quickest. "The engineers from Gilkes were enthusiastic and showed a real desire to learn," says Mr Fletcher. "We often deliver courses of this type to aftermarket customers, so it was refreshing to provide the same benefits to an OEM. We think more OEMs would do well to seek out training on the bearings they use in their machines and equipment as it presents a real opportunity to update their existing knowledge and practical skills. This is boosted by the fact that each course can be tailored to the individual requirements of the customer."
Gilkes is now in the process of considering a level II course for a further 10 engineers. Level II courses cover bearing technology in more detail, featuring topics such as calculation training.
NSK offers a wide range of bearing solutions for pump applications. For instance, standard cylindrical roller bearings with either brass, steel or polyamide cages are used extensively in centrifugal, piston, submersible and LNG (liquefied natural gas) pumps, to list but a few. Also popular among pump manufacturers are both high capacity and creep-free types of deep groove ball bearings. The latter are used commonly to facilitate pump motor shaft rotation, for example, where O-ring compression prevents unwanted creep.
Similarly, angular contact ball bearings are another popular pick for pump design engineers, thanks principally to attributes such as high load capacity, rotating speed and precision, but also factors like universal matching and tight axial clearance/preload tolerance.
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