MIND THE GAP!

TWO REASONS NOT TO IGNORE THE JOINT GAP WHEN INSTALLING A SPLIT BEARING

When you need a new bearing installed fast, it can be really tempting to ignore tiny details like no visible joint gap on the inner race halves and clamp rings – don’t.

Here’s why:

No joint gaps can indicate a problem

The joint gap ensures the inner race halves are clamped tightly to the shaft. If there are no visible joint gaps, this indicates the shaft is undersized, or you have the incorrect size of bearing.

The bore of the Bowman Split Bearing inner race is manufactured to the same size and tolerance as the shaft and it is made with joint gaps which are cut at an angle allowing each roller to pass over the joint gaps progressively without impeding on the performance of the bearing. The gaps prove the two halves are not touching each other – hence when the clamp rings are fully tightened the race will be firmly fixed to the shaft.

If you do not have gaps at both joints, it means something is wrong. Stop the installation and get in touch with your supplier for support.

Installing a bearing with no joint gaps will result in damage and potential failure

If there were no gaps at the joints during installation, or the gaps were incorrectly set, the race halves will press against each other as the rollers pass over the joint during operation. The result will be fractured joint faces resulting in particles of the inner race flaking off and entering the bearing, causing further damage and potential bearing failure.

It is easy to spot a bearing that has been running with incorrectly set joint gaps because there will be damage at both faces of the ‘touching’ joint.

Getting it right

To help you get it right, prolong the life of your bearing, optimise operation, and avoid additional downtime, here’s our best practice advise:

  • Pay close attention during the initial fitting of the inner race halves, use feeler gauges to check and equalise the gaps before finally tightening and applying the torque to the clamp ring joint screws
  • Soft, compressible packing can be used to maintain a gap, but ensure it doesn’t protrude beyond the joint face – if it enters the roller path it will cause issues with the roller rotation, and if it enters the bore of the race it will cause issues with the inner race not seating correctly on the shaft
  • The gaps should be approximately 0.5mm each side depending on the accuracy of the splitting operation
  • Try to make the joint gaps equal but when this isn’t possible ensure there’s a gap at each joint, even if it’s a 60/40 or 70/30 gap ratio
  • The clamp rings are manufactured with a similar joint gap, this is to ensure the full tension force of the screw is used to clamp the inner race to the shaft. Use the same best practice as you did with the inner races but note the larger joint gap of approximately 1.0mm at each joint

No gap, no operation

The bottom line is simple, if there are no joint gaps, then the bearing should not be given the green light for operation. The bearing life will be reduced, meaning another investment and additional downtime sooner than necessary.

If you’ve suffered a breakdown and need support quickly, DM us. We hold substantial stock inventory and can could reduce your wait considerably.

SPLIT BEARING INSPECTIONS: A FOUR-STEP BEARING HEALTH CHECK IF YOU DON’T HAVE CONDITION MONITORING

Did you know that only 10% of industrial equipment can physically ‘wear out’ which means over 90% of mechanical failures are avoidable?1

The best way to avoid failures is of course predictive maintenance rather than reactive maintenance. In other words, spotting and trouble-shooting issues before they become a significant problem. Condition monitoring sensors are the most effective way to do this and can identify problems before they would be apparent to the human senses.

Condition monitoring is a worthwhile investment, but it isn’t something all businesses can afford right now. In the absence of data-driven maintenance, it’s important to conduct regular, effective  bearing health checks to help prevent unplanned downtime.

Here’s a simple four-step process for bearing health checks if you don’t yet have condition monitoring:

Step one: Conduct a visual inspection

If your process allows for a brief planned break, carry out a visual check on the bearing. In the main, you are looking for visual wear characteristics on the raceways and rolling elements including fretting (discolouration) and spalling (peeling metal). Both of these could be signs of either poor lubrication, misalignment, poor fitting practice or fatigue. Whilst the shaft is running, check to see if there is visible movement of the housing. This would indicate looseness within the bearing brought on by the issues mentioned above.

Don’t forget to inspect the seal faces for an unconventional or excessive wear pattern, as well as the shaft face itself – is the shaft the same diameter where it contacts with the seal?

Take photos of your findings so you can compare them each time you inspect your bearing. This will help you identify any less obvious changes.

Step two: Listen for noises and monitor vibration

By listening to the bearing in operation, it’s possible to identify the presence of deterioration or damage. If the bearing is in optimal condition, it will produce a soft humming sound, but irregular or unusual sounds like squeaks or grinding could indicate a condition issue.

Listening to changes in vibration is also important, but it’s worth noting, that manual sound monitoring isn’t always effective for vibration management and digital vibration monitoring via sensors is a worthy investment. The onset of mechanical issues is almost always accompanied by an increase in vibration levels and the characteristics of the vibrations can indicate the type of fault at play.

Step three: Pay special attention to the grease

Incorrect lubrication, or the absence of grease altogether is one of the most common causes of bearing failure. When inspecting your bearings, pay special attention to whether the bearing is running dry, or whether the grease has discoloured or separated from excessive heat or vibration– this could be a sign of too much or too little grease. Likewise, the presence of too much grease can also cause serious trouble, especially in high speed applications – always use the manufacturer-recommended quantity and refer back to this during your inspections.

You may notice the grease looks like marmite, and you may smell carbon which means it has been burning.

Also check for lubricant leaks in the areas surrounding the bearing and ensure the labyrinth seals are filled with grease for maximum protection.

Just like in step one, take photos of your findings so you can draw accurate comparisons each time you inspect the bearing grease.

Step four: Monitor temperature during operation

Assuming the operating conditions haven’t changed, the temperature at bearing locations should remain consistent. An increase in temperature could be a sign of bearing damage and potentially imminent failure. Hand-held infrared thermometers are readily available, economical and can prove useful in spot-checking bearing temperatures.

That said, always remember that a rise in temperature is natural immediately after your initial machine power-up and after each fresh application of grease, and these increased temperatures can last a couple of hours.

Bonus step: Ask for support and guidance

Industry is evolving at a rapid rate as we try to increase output, quickly and cost effectively. In doing so, we’re putting our machinery under considerable pressure.

These new-found performance parameters are bound to impact the wear components of our equipment and bearing inspections may not always go to plan.

If you see, smell, hear or detect anything unusual, ask for help and guidance from your supplier so they can support you in avoiding unplanned downtime.

STOCK IS KING DURING A SUPPLY SHORTAGE (BUT AT BOWMAN ITS ALWAYS HAS BEEN!)

It’s no secret that globally, the post-COVID economic recovery has been slowed by the increasing cost of raw materials and the ongoing shipping crisis. 


When the bearing industry was assessed a few months ago, Bearing News reported that prices for more than 60 different types of raw material had gone up – with reported increases between 1,480 USD per ton and 21,500 USD per ton. This, combined with the sharp upward trajectory of fuel prices and other variables such as the Suez Canal transit price inflation, has seen many eastern production facilities either actively or passively stop production. 


For those still in operation, rising material costs are only the first hurdle. A shortage of workers, missing truck drivers, staffing shortages on container ships and related logistical challenges in ports, plus an imbalance in trade flows, is making transportation of goods across geographies a slow, difficult, and costly process. 

 

What does this mean for our supply chain?

Demand is up, supply is down, which means companies are putting heavier schedule demands on their supplier base, extending lead times even further – way beyond their normal, acceptable levels. 


This of course makes planning a challenge, and customer fulfilment a real concern, leaving many manufacturers and distributors facing the dilemma of committing to unusually higher level of stock, despite not having the current demand to warrant such an investment.


This risk/reward strategy of balancing inventory with working capital requires real business stability, and a confidence that few organisations cannot stomach in such a fragile economic landscape. 

Those that can risk it are doing so, and it’s driving demand sky high for a supply chain that is already struggling to cope. For those that can’t commit to higher stock levels, the wait for product continues to get longer. 

 

Stock is king and always has been

Right now, stock is king, but for Bowman it always has been. Reinvesting profits and holding substantial inventory in strategic global locations has long been our mantra, and when it comes to economic uncertainty, the effects of political unrest, or even global pandemics, it enables us to weather the storm better than most. 


We are on a program of building stocks in multiple locations and are working with strategic partners to ensure we can service the global demand. For split roller bearings in particular, we have some of the highest inventory in the industry right now and can still uphold our standard lead times, in most geographies, across much of our “me too” Enhanced product range, as well as our higher capacity Advanced products, meaning our customers are less affected by the supply shortage.

 

What action should customers take?

When it comes to switching manufacturers, most customers are risk averse and will stick with their existing supplier no matter what – but this supply shortage is far from over and Bowman may well be able to fulfil your requirements faster with products that could even outperform the ones you are using.


When it comes to taking risks, communication is key. An initial conversation on the phone, a meeting and a physical demonstration can alleviate most concerns. 


As a first step, why not call us to find out if we have what you need in stock? There’s a strong chance we do. 

 

Call: +44 (0) 1902 898 560

Email: sales@bowman.co.uk

US customers: 484 800 5362

Email: Alistair@bowman.co.uk

BOWMAN ANNOUNCES NEW ASSOCIATE FOR SPLIT BEARINGS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Bowman International, a leading innovator of bearings and components, has announced a new associate for its Split Bearings Division, in South Africa. 

Bowman Split Bearings South Africa Pty Ltd, will work closely with Bowman’s Split Bearing Division to deliver the manufacturer’s high-load capacity split roller bearings to the South African and African markets.

Managing Director, Paul Mitchell, comments on this latest addition to Bowman’s network of distributors:

“There are several heavy-side industries in South Africa and Africa that struggle with the detrimental effects of bearing failure – mining, quarrying, agriculture, sugar processing and paper production to name a few. 

“Our new associates, Director, Gary Mayer and Director, Leon Van den berg, will support businesses in these areas to reduce downtime by specifying the Bowman Advanced Roller Bearing, which is specifically designed for high-load applications.

“We are excited by this new association in South Africa and look forward to seeing the successes both companies bring.”

Gary Mayer adds: “Between us, Leon and I have over 65 years combined experience in the bearing supply chain, giving us a deep understanding of the challenges faced by industries across our region. Bowman’s dimensionally interchangeable high-load capacity split roller bearings are the ideal solution for making bearing change out faster and maintaining uptime over the life of the bearing. 

“We are already talking to our broad network of connections about making the switch to the Advanced product and feedback is extremely positive. With the full backing of the Bowman Split Bearing team in the UK, we look forward to bringing product portfolio to the South African and African markets from our warehousing facilities in Cape Town and Rustenburg. 

The Bowman Advanced Split Roller Bearing has been designed to improve performance and uptime in high load applications. Leveraging the design and manufacturing capabilities of production 3D printing, it offers significantly more radial and axial load capacity (in both directions) when compared to any other split roller bearing available on the market. To make bearing change out faster, the cartridges of the Advanced Split Roller Bearing are dimensionally interchangeable with cartridges from all major manufacturers allowing easy mounting into existing pedestals or other housing types.

Bowman is proud to hold substantial inventory, to make global delivery fast and affordable. As a new associate of the company, Bowman Split Bearings South Africa Pty Ltd will hold inventory to serve the South African and African market.

Follow Bowman’s continued growth on LinkedIn click here or to find out more about the Advanced Split Roller Bearings click here.

Are you located in Africa? To understand how Bowman’s high-load capacity split roller bearings can benefit your business, contact Bowman Split Bearings Pty LTD on (+27) 76 754 5889.

THE FORGOTTEN CRITERIA – ACCOMMODATING AXIAL LOAD IN CEMENT PROCESSING

In cement processing applications, increased production demands, longer running times and more corrosive environments are putting machinery under pressure. As crucial components in the operational efficiency of any machine, bearings must be able to withstand increasing forces and runtime. Chris Ager, Business Unit Manager at Bowman International, explores the increasing importance of load types in industrial applications and how innovation in bearing design can help to avoid system failure, unplanned downtime, and increased maintenance costs.

Understanding forces: axial and radial
When choosing the right bearing for the job, it is important to understand the load and application requirements. If the wrong bearing is used, it may not carry the required load effectively, leading to damage and potential failure. There are two main types of load – radial load refers to the loads acting at right angles to the shaft, and axial loads are applied parallel to the shaft in both directions. While many bearings are designed to handle either axial or radial loads, high-load applications in heavy side industrial applications often require a combination of the two – a requirement that, due to limitations in manufacturing, has been left largely unmet.

To best serve the needs of high-load applications that have both types of forces in play, many bearing manufacturers and OEMs will use a combination approach – using a pair of bearings to accommodate the load in each direction. The shortcomings of this method mean more space requirements within the machinery – increasing its overall footprint on the factory floor – as well as potential complications with both assembly and access for ongoing maintenance.

While there is an increasing number of bearings on the market that are designed to handle both radial and axial loads, they work by inclining the rolling elements to give some axial capacity. In doing so, they trade off radial capacity for axial – a solution that limits the axial load capacity, limiting application usage or putting the bearings at risk of failure.

Both radial and axial load specifications directly relate to the strength and rigidity of the bearings, shaft, and overall machinery. Exceeding these specifications in an application with a high axial load may result in damage to the bearing and have a different impact on efficiency. In fact, studies suggest that exceeding either radial or axial load specifications by 10% may reduce the lifespan of the components by about 1,000 hours – as well as running the very real risk of unplanned downtime. For applications with a high axial load, these solutions are far from ideal.

Innovations in bearing design
In a standard split bearing design, the rollers run against the outer race lips and clamp rings on the inner race assembly of the bearing, creating stress, friction, and a lower tolerance for axial loads. Using engineering-grade 3D-printed Nylon-11 and the latest additive manufacturing technology, Bowman has been able to create a bearing design that removes the axial locating lips from the bearing outer race. This means that the radial roller length, as well as the actual number of rollers, can be increased – giving both a higher load capacity and an approximate increase of x5 radial L10 life. 

Increased axial capacity
By adding axial roller and cage assemblies to their design, Bowman has overcome the issue of reductions in axial load by using three sets of rolling elements to allow independent handling of the radial and bi-directional axial loads. The design incorporates the usual benefits of a split bearing system such as faster removal and installation processes when compared to solid bearings, while increasing the radial capacity and significantly improving the axial capacity compared to standard solutions.

To find out more information about how advanced bearing design can benefit cement processing facilities, and the state-of-the-art innovations Bowman International has brought to market to solve these challenges, contact the team today.

BEARING THE COST OF FAILURE IN HIGH-LOAD APPLICATIONS

Bearing failures can be costly, disruptive and in some cases dangerous. Chris Ager, Business Unit Manager for Bowman International’s Split Bearing Division, considers three of the main reasons for bearing failure in high-load environments – and explores why it is so important to make the right decision first time.

There are three main reasons for bearing failure: bearing fatigue, poor maintenance practices and the incorrect selection bearing material. In high-load applications, these potential points of failure are amplified, but addressing them during the specification process could help designers and decision-making engineers to make the right decision first time. In doing so, many facilities can harness untapped performance, time and cost efficiencies that they were unaware of.

Across many sectors, machinery is working harder and longer than ever before, so when it comes to bearing selection, be it a standard catalogue item or a special order, customers are becoming more reliant on their suppliers to take responsibility for supporting the specification process. This partnership approach facilitates accurate product selection – and that is where it pays to partner with a manufacturer that has proven experience and expertise.

Bearing fatigue
First and foremost, it is vital to select the right bearing for the application in question to prevent premature bearing fatigue. There are many types of bearing to choose from, including plain, spherical, needle, ball and split roller bearings to name but a few. Each of these bearing categories has many variations within it, such as sintered, wrapped, composite or machined, and then there are sizes, seals, lubrication and performance enhancing extras to consider.

With so much to think about, it is fair to say that there is more to specifying the right bearing than just navigating the overarching product type. Each variable will affect the bearing performance depending on the application and working with a knowledgeable supply partner is the right way to ensure you have the precise bearing for your application.

The majority of customers know exactly what their bearing needs to do. They know the load, speed and environmental requirements that will reduce fatigue, but need advice on what type of bearing can deliver those capabilities most efficiently, and at the right cost.

Selecting the right bearing will influence not just the initial purchase cost, but potentially other factors including the cost of ongoing maintenance, lifespan of the bearing and even how efficiently the equipment works. Often, when working closely with a bearing manufacturer, customers realise there are clear benefits to switching to an alternative bearing type, from the one style they have been specifying to date.

The new Bowman Advanced Split Roller Bearing for example is specifically designed for high load applications and can improve performance and drive cost efficiencies compared to solid bearings for systems with high radial and axial load requirements. In fact, this bearing offers up to 75 percent higher radial load capacity and up to a 1000 percent increase in axial load capacity compared to other split bearings.

This is really where a whole-market manufacturer and supplier, not restricted to any single type of bearing, can add real value through independent advice.

Material selection
The choice of material is another important decision that can affect system performance, bearing life and OPEX costs. Bearings are manufactured in a range of materials to suit a range of purposes including sintered bronze, sintered copper, rolled bronze, cast bronze and various plastics. Composites, stainless steel and other alloys are also widely used to meet the needs of certain applications.

As material science evolves, so too can bearing design and now for the first time in bearing history, 3D printing is also being used by Bowman International to facilitate the use of complex geometries to radically improve bearing life, load and performance whilst keeping cost- and time-to-market low.

Ease of maintenance
Reducing downtime is an important driver in any industry, especially those with restricted system access, mission critical operational parameters or high levels of customer demand to meet.

It can be tempting to skip regular maintenance or cut corners to get equipment back up and running quickly, but this will only lead to further failures. Selecting bearings that offer easy installation and maintenance processes can keep downtime to a minimum and performance optimised.

Choosing split bearings over solid bearings for example can save time during installation and maintenance because they are assembled radially around the shaft. This eliminates the need to disconnect the coupling and move other equipment, such as motors, gearboxes or pumps out of the way to access the shaft – making installation up to ten times faster.

The Bowman Advanced Split Roller Bearing even uses the rollers to lock the two cage halves together, eradicating the use of small and easy to lose clips and other locking components. Further enhancing the performance of this revolutionary split roller bearing is a patented triple labyrinth seal which not only offers a tighter seal than other split bearings, but also reduces the need for costly removal, machining or replacement of worn shafts.

When a shaft becomes worn, engineers can simply fit a new extended seal covering the undamaged part of the shaft, without compromising performance and without the need for extended downtime.

When faced with bearing selection, the easiest way to make the right choice first time is to work with a supplier that can take a whole-of-market approach to bearing specification and can offer the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, has a proven track record of innovating products ahead of its competitors and can offer a whole-of-market view, so that you aren’t missing out on performance and cost benefits that you weren’t aware of.

For more information on Bowmans Advanced Split Roller Bearings, click here