Three British companies from very different sectors have a particular common denominator: NSK helped them cut costs and maintenance work by 74 to 90%, optimise usage and thus significantly improve productivity with its proven AIP method.
So just what does this method called AIP do? Behind this lies the “Added Value Programme”. It helps identify incorrect or wrongly used bearings or linear products that may lead to a reduction of a machine’s efficiency or even the standstill of a complete plant. NSK helps customers solve this problem with its Added Value Programme. NSK experts provide support for users through practically tested AIP methods that allow more efficient and thus profitable operation and maintenance processes. “NSK engineers examine the plant and analyse all of the relevant information so as to identify and point out critical applications of bearings,” says Peter Neubauer, Regional Manager of the European Industrial Business Unit, NSK Deutschland. “On this basis, we suggest an individual solution, including recommendations for an optimised machine design and training of employees.” Users and NSK then perform trials according to a jointly agreed plan to check whether the goals have been achieved.
It’s worth the effort. “Thanks to AIP, our customers have already saved between 50,000 and more than one million euros a year,” explains Michael Preinerstorfer, Managing Director of the European Industrial Business Unit of NSK Europe. “We take note of these individual solutions and use the results throughout the entire NSK Group.”
A glance at three documented success stories, where NSK Europe has helped companies in Great Britain save around 620,000 euros in costs each year, shows that this is not just an advertising slogan. The bearings of dough mixers in a large British bakery failed regularly. They had to be replaced every two to three months, leading to high maintenance and working costs as well as production losses. Peter Neubauer explains: “Bearings in mixers have to absorb high forces so as to be able to withstand wobbling caused by shaft deflection. The original bearings were unsuitable for the application and failed.”
NSKHPS (High Performance Standard) spherical roller bearings, which have been designed for such high loads, are now used in their place. The change of bearings triples or even quadruples the bearings’ service life, reduces unscheduled downtime and thus saves considerable costs. Thanks to this changeover, the annual production time that was lost could be cut from 96 to 24 hours and the annual overall costs (including production losses) were reduced from around 65,000 to 17,000 euros. Incidentally, the bearings account for the smallest amount in this calculation.
Extremely high loads for drives occur during the production of stone blocks (Thermalite). High loads and temperatures in conjunction with a contaminated environment in the autoclave wheel bearing insert led to a premature failure of the standard deep-groove ball bearings at one of NSK’s customers. The frequent bearing failures caused damage in the adjacent drive components and increased the working costs. The customer had to replace the bearings in the ten vehicle axles every two to three weeks. The failures were caused by the excessively high loads in conjunction with the penetration of hard particles and moisture. NSK engineers recommended replacing the bearings by NSKHPS spherical roller bearings that are designed for higher loads and operation at high temperatures. This replacement prolonged the bearing life, did away with ongoing maintenance of the bearings and significantly reduced damage to adjacent components. The annual costs for maintenance and materials of around 130,000 euros fell by 97% to just 3,900 euros. And the annual costs of bearings also dropped by 80% to 3,000 euros.
Recording the technical details in a British ore processing plant that produces coal dust posed a particular challenge. The bearings in a large recirculation fan that moves the coal dust in the plant failed regularly. The company tried in vain to prevent the failures by cooling the bearings with compressed air. NSK engineers discovered that the incorrect assembly of the bearings, excessive lubrication and the wrong arrangement of seals had caused overheating and bearing failure. NSK suggested using NSKHPS spherical roller bearings in SNN plummer blocks and labyrinth seals. The NSK experts also provided recommendations on the correct installation of the bearings and their lubrication. A test was carried out to monitor the installation and implementation of NSK’s recommendations.
The ore processing plant profited from a higher productivity, lower maintenance costs and the omission of the expensive compressed air cooling (90,000 euros a year). This case also shows the follow-up costs that are caused by using relatively cheap, incorrectly installed equipment. The bearings cost 750 euros a year but were responsible for follow-up costs of almost 400,000 euros on account of overheating, around 305,000 of which were due to failures. Thanks to the work of the AIP experts, the extremely high overall annual costs shrank by more than 90% to 1,422 euros for the NSKHPS spherical roller bearings and their installation.
All in all, these success stories prove “how life cycle costs can be drastically reduced at little or even no expense thanks to our AIP counselling,” explains Michael Preinerstorfer.