Automotive - 2017-01-04
NSK’s decision to enter the Independent Automotive Aftermarket (IAM) is based on a century of designing and manufacturing products for automotive OEMs. Of course, while a common industry strategy is to outsource aftermarket component manufacture from low wage economies in the Far East, for example, NSK guarantees that all of the products it offers for the IAM come solely from OE sources, as tested and approved by the world’s major car manufacturers.
The use of OE parts for the IAM will provide reassurance to wholesalers seeking a strong partner in this growing marketplace. In short, NSK is aiming to support its wholesale and garage partners to become more profitable, effective and efficient. The OE parts pledge also offers peace-of-mind to safety-conscious car owners who insist that garages only install original replacement parts. And while the NSK brand may be new to some in the aftermarket sector, the company’s reputation as an established, high quality supplier to OE manufacturers, means a proven platform of success is already in place.
An extensive manufacturing footprint and a proven track record in value-added solutions are among the key differentiators in NSK’s favour, not to mention a comprehensive product range in three principal OE product areas: chassis, transmissions and engine.
From a chassis perspective, wheel bearings are today required to meet ever-greater demands in terms of lightness and load resistance. Here, NSK is the global market leader in third generation OE wheel bearings.
The first generation of NSK wheel bearings for OE car manufacturers incorporate two separate rows of balls or tapered rollers (for heavy load vehicles). These pre-greased bearings also offer a high performance seal for extended operational lifespan. Within the seal, many first generation wheel bearings integrate a magnetic encoder that transmits information to the braking and stability control systems. The bearings are also designed with internal elements that reduce friction torque and contribute to lower fuel consumption.
Offering identical advantages as their predecessors with regard to low fuel consumption and magnetic encoder technology, second generation wheel bearings produced by NSK have the distinction of being accompanied by an integrated flange on the outer ring, which simplifies assembly.
Finally, the third generation (commonly known as Hub III), which covers applications for European, Asian and American car brands, is the most technically advanced and comprehensive. NSK produces more third generation wheel bearings than any other manufacturer in the world. Demonstrating its innovation in this area, the company introduced cold working techniques to achieve more efficient production, and help reduce the weight and size of the bearings.
From a technology perspective, third generation wheel bearings normally include sensors that deliver critical information to different dynamic systems on the vehicle. They are also equipped with the most advanced seals and lubrication to deliver maximum efficiency and durability, while installation is simplified thanks to their ‘bolt-on’ assembly.
Moving to the company’s OE solutions for transmissions, NSK offers innovative products for manual and automatic transmissions and differentials. Changes in speed when accelerating and decelerating must today be increasingly smooth in order to maximise driving pleasure, minimise fuel consumption and reduce energy loss. With regard to the latter, NSK has set itself an additional challenge: to halve energy loss resulting from gear shifts.
NSK is the only OE supplier to manufacture each part of the automatic transmission, from bearings to one-way clutch elements, thus ensuring that each component is as fine, light and efficient as possible.
Among the specific solutions for automatic transmissions is the company’s tapered roller bearings, which feature a long life integrated hub on the exterior ring that allows the component count to be reduced and gearbox assembly to be simplified. In addition, NSK’s needle roller bearings respond to the size requirements and specification of the latest automatic transmissions. By using different engineering polymers in its cage designs, the company is also able to reduce weight, provide better lubrication and improve heat resistance, all while permitting high rotational speeds.
With regard to manual gearboxes and the latest dual-clutch technology, NSK offers a wide range of OE solutions, from clutch release bearings to main shaft bearings (both ball bearing and roller bearing types).
The company’s sealed bearings, for example, prevent contamination from the gearbox lubricant, while NSK’s quick-assembly tapered roller bearings offer both stability and improved rigidity. Furthermore, bearings with integrated mounting plates are optimised for gearbox assembly operations. Perfect alignment between the holes on the plate and those of the casing is made possible by a rotating plate around the outer ring. This specific retention technology enables better assembly alignment of the bearing in comparison with conventional systems.
It is of course an ongoing technical challenge to offer customers components that are ever-lighter in weight without compromising efficiency or the ability to meet friction reduction requirements. However, NSK’s unique heat treatments have been conceived to increase operational usage duration. Indeed, the company’s latest tapered roller bearings reduce friction by 20% in comparison with standard products.
Moving to bearing and roller accessories for engine applications, these products are constantly required to do more and perform better. NSK bearings and engine parts are recognised for their performance in extremely harsh conditions, especially where high temperatures, speed fluctuations, vibration or sudden load variations are present, or where there is exposure to water and/or dirt.
The material, design and lubrication technologies applied to these products, be they bearings, rollers or tension pulleys, help to reduce friction and belt wear whilst increasing durability and reliability. Such attributes also contribute to lower fuel consumption and engine noise.
As a recognised OE specialist in ball bearings and accessories designed for engines, NSK understands the fundamentals associated with improving the working life and performance of alternators, for example. Here, the combination of innovative bearing steels and advanced seals and lubricants, enhances alternator performance and longevity, even at high temperatures and speeds. Furthermore, by integrating a one-way clutch with an alternator pulley, belt lifespan can be improved by absorbing the speed fluctuations transmitted from the crankshaft pulley.
Another application example relates to belt-driven compressors used for in-car air conditioning systems. For this purpose, NSK has developed double row angular contact ball bearings featuring a thin section. Also known as ‘magnetic clutch bearings’, these products feature a high performance seal and offer high rigidity, making them ideal not just for automotive air conditioning compressors, but water pumps and pulleys.
Additionally, in order to adapt to air conditioning compressors which operate with new Freon-free refrigerants, NSK has developed compact needle roller bearings to accommodate the challenges of this specific environment.
Clearly, NSK’s position in the OE business is a prerequisite and provides the necessary product range that will help the company’s approach to the IAM. However, the goal of NSK is to meet the specific demands of the IAM in terms of service, support and value.
The first product being introduced in support of NSK's IAM entry is ProKIT, which focusses on wheel HUB bearings, a product purposely selected to demonstrate the company's proven capabilities. ProKIT includes only 100% genuine products, such as bearings, seals and nuts, as used by OE car manufacturers.
Worldwide, nearly all OE car manufacturers demand and use NSK products, and offering these in the IAM is the logical next step.
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