The Australian beverage industry has undergone significant shifts in the past decade. In an industry once dominated by full strength beer and sugar-sweetened soft drinks, the beverage industry is now catering to a wide range of consumer tastes and palates. Whether that be niche alcoholic beverages or the latest health drink, what has remained consistent in the Australian beverage industry is the need to package these liquids in an efficient and safe manner.
This responsibility has often fallen to bottling operations, and underpinning these operations are the parts and components that keep the plant moving smoothly. A critical element of any bottling operation are the cam followers, bearings that convert rotary to linear motion. However, just like any piece of machinery in a food and beverage operation, cam followers can be exposed to moisture, which creates the potential for corrosion.
BSC Australia distributes Schaeffler’s Corrotect coated cam followers for this very situation. According to Andreas Pieper, engineering and quality manager at Schaeffler Australia, this coating is critical in ensuring the longevity of the bearing.
“Because of what is happening in production, the bottling machine is hosed down by water after the shift or the production day. So, there is the potential that you have moisture and water being in direct contact with the cam follower and that’s where our bearings have the advantage over our competitors because we can provide cam followers with a corrosion resistant coating.”
As Pieper explains, Corrotect is a zinc-iron coating, where the zinc acts as a sacrificial anode. When a bearing comes into contact with water, the zinc corrodes, rather than the metal it is protecting. In addition to its composition, Corrotect is extremely thin, and Schaeffler has a patent on the half and one and a half micron thickness application.
For operators of bottling plants, this means that Corrotect coated bearings can be inserted into existing machines, without the need to adjust the machinery that the bearing interacts with. Importantly, BSC’s team provide their customers with support services such as installation to ensure the products are running correctly in their application.
BSC Australia’s Product Manager for Industrial Bearings, Tony Tormey, notes that the level of support BSC provides to customers is unmatched by other distributors. This is reflected in their national network of branches and the collective skill base of their engineers.
“BSC are represented in every state. We have a technical service person and a technical engineer available to look at ongoing problems or re-engineering, or we have key account managers that call on most of the food and beverage accounts in every state. Importantly, we’re available 24/7.”
For those engaged in the bottling industry, BSC can provide a custom-solution for the business.
“We have a huge stock profile to support our food and beverage customers,” said Tormey. “This includes Corrotect, which we can quickly order whenever and wherever it is needed through our national network of service and distribution centres. After hours services are available for 24/7 operations, and we have distribution centres in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.”
When it comes to the maintenance aspects of the Corrotect coated bearing, both Tormey and Pieper say that upkeep is simplified due to the composition of the coating.
“The iron-zinc compound can resist the rough and tumble of a shop floor,” says Pieper. “Even if, for example, the maintenance operator scratches the bearing, the Corrotect coating will still be active and no corrosion will occur in the scratch.”
Besides scratches and rust on the bearing impacting the performance of the coating, one element of the Corrotect advantage, Pieper points out, is the extension on the life of the seal of the bearing.
“We know that whether it’s in the food or bottling industry, a lot of bearings actually fail because the sealing becomes compromised at some stage and dirt or water gets into the bearing earlier than it should, with a Corrotect coating the seal contacts stay nice and smooth.”
Overall, Pieper estimates that depending on the operation, a Corrotect coated bearing can last twice as long as an uncoated bearing.