Remanufacturing your bearings could cut costs by 80 per cent 03 September 2013
Even the best bearings eventually wear out but many are being scrapped when they could be remanufactured, warns Phil Burge, communication manager at SKF.
In today's economic climate, with the focus on reducing plant costs and boosting sustainability, he suggests that plant engineers and engineering mangers would do well to look at work being done by SKF on advanced bearing technology, which is enabling users to get significant efficiency gains by remanufacturing bearings instead of replacing them.
"Take, for example, the bearings that run for long hours on a paper machine. In this type of application, bearings often do not reach their potential service life because the environment in which they operate is subject to high levels of contamination," says Burge.
"As a result, a dent created by an over-rolled hard particle will disturb the load distribution along the roller and raceway contact surface, causing stress to be locally increased, which accelerates fatigue. However, if a bearing is judged to be suitable for remanufacture, then the service life can be increased by removing such surface damage," he advises.
Why bother? Burge makes the point that cost-benefit analysis shows that remanufacturing can exact a saving of as much as 80% against the cost of a new bearing. What's more, a programme of bearing remanufacture can significantly extend component life and maximise efficiency, if coupled with a robust predictive and preventative maintenance regime, he adds.
As for assessing which bearings are eligible for remanufacture, Burge explains that the process begins with disassembly and cleaning, followed by a visual and microscopic inspection, a measurement of ring hardness and dimensional inspection.
Remanufacturing itself can then involve grinding or polishing of bearing side faces, bore diameter and outside diameter. It may also involve the application of a nickel or chrome plating to allow the surfaces to be reground or polished to their original dimensions.
"This can result in a surface finish that is even better than that specified by the original blueprint," says Burge. "Bearings are then typically refitted with new rolling elements, while cages are inspected for cracks and potentially remanufactured by replating."
SKF (UK) Ltd
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