Corrotect coating can double bearing life in bottling applications

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.

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Agri Hubs: Keeping the farming sector moving

Australian farmers face a myriad of challenges – drought, severe weather conditions, fluctuating market prices – and having to deal with these in addition to the daily demands of the job. Which is why alleviating some of the challenges associated with running a farm, such as maintaining critical farm equipment, can make a significant difference.

As BSC Regional Manager Russell Randal asks, “Can you imagine a farmer having to run the length of their plough with a grease gun and lubricating up to a hundred bearings prior to ploughing? And doing this before they even start the working day?”

“Keeping rotating equipment such as ploughs running smoothly is critical to any farming operation. And key to that is keeping the bearing components well-lubricated,” explains Randal. “Without adequate lubrication these bearings simply fail due to the excessive heat caused by friction. But best lubrication practise requires a lot of time and effort. One of our BSC suppliers, NSK, have actually developed a solution that addresses this problem head on.”

The NSK Agri Disc Hub is a complete bearing housing unit designed and manufactured in Germany to withstand the rigours of broad acre farming, including Australia’s harsh conditions. The hub is mounted on the plough arm, and the tillage disc is mounted directly to the hub.

According to NSK Australia’s Sales Engineer Dave Healey, the Agri Disc Hub eliminates most of the manual labour involved in maintaining tillage equipment, with ‘sealed for life’ bearings.

“Before NSK Agri Hubs were introduced, this rotating motion was controlled by two tapered roller bearings and a simple sealing arrangement. Re-lubricating the bearings was a frequent and costly exercise,” he explained. “Additionally, during grease replenishment, contamination of the environment often occurred because grease leaked through this poor seal arrangement.”

NSK’s grease, is a special performance grease designed with high pressure absorption capacity. This ensures the bearing is sealed for life. Even with heavy use, this feature renders re-lubrication unnecessary. As such, Healey says “the NSK Agri Disc Hubs has transformed farming operations. Since 2010, NSK units have been used in the Australian farming sector, supplied on major European equipment such as Kverneland and Kuhn with excellent results.”

Healey explains “keeping out contamination is a major factor of bearing life. Contamination must negotiate a very complex channel to reach the rolling elements. A five lip cassette seal is strategically located up under a pressure plate and is the start of this channel. The rolling elements themselves are further protected by a triple lip seal that is integral to the bearing.  The feedback from farmers who have used these hubs has been fantastic. They love that there’s no downtime for their equipment by having to replenish grease in the hubs, they’re also simple and easy to install. They won’t be going back to the traditional design at all.”

“The Agri Hub solid steel housing is also significantly thicker and stronger than other products on the market,” says Healey. The housing – which has a thickness of 8.5mm at the cassette seal location – enables greater absorption of heavy impact loads and therefore better protects the sealing arrangement. Furthermore, the 40-degree contact angle of the double row ball bearing enables the Agri Hub to cope with higher axial loads compared to a standard 30-degree angle of most competitor’s bearings.

Thanks to these features, the working life of tillage equipment is extended by the NSK’s Agri Disc Hub.

According to Randal, there is great take-up of the Agri Hub in the Riverina region where he’s based, and he sees ample future growth opportunities in this and other areas.

“The Agri Hub is built tough enough for Australian conditions. The feedback we’re getting is that the Agri Hubs have stood the test of time thus far, and that’s coming from the farmers.”

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Why solid grease provides peace of mind for food manufacturers

Contamination of food and beverages during manufacturing is always in the back of the mind of those who run the processing factories. At any time during course of making product, plant and machinery could accidentally contaminate the goods, so it is important that best practices are in place once a production run is started.

And while best practices are a good start in keeping food and beverage items free from contaminants, there are some items that can help provide layers of protection during the production process itself.

According to precision mechanics specialist NTN-SNR, the average cost worldwide for product recalls in the food processing industry between 2010 and 2017 was just over $16 million. The most common reasons were foreign bodies found in the product, and contamination by allergens and/or bacteria. With that in mind, the company has produced LP09, a food-grade solid grease that lubricates bearings that are used in the food processing industry. It is designed to give food and beverage processors peace of mind if they are worried about bearing grease contaminating the production line. This particular grease is approved by NSF International, a US-based independent product testing, inspection and certification organisation.

“When you test your product and you find it is contaminated by foreign matter, that food needs to be scrapped and cannot be sold,” said Fabio Rebecchi, who is product manager for NTNCBC Australia who distributes LP09 in Australia. “One of those contaminants could be grease. Can you imagine how much that could cost a company if it fails its compliance?

“However, if a food product makes contact with LP09 solid grease, that’s fine because it complies to the NSF standards. You could ingest it without any harmful effects.

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More importantly, you won’t have to scrap the product produced and start all over again.”
One aspect that needs to be stated is that LP09 solid grease needs to be used with stainless-steel bearings that are also produced by the company, because the solid grease contains no rust inhibitor additives. Bearings are an important part of any manufacturing facility, including those in the food and beverage sector. NTN’s stainless-steel bearings will last up to 20 times longer than some of its competitors. And along with the LP09 grease, will do their part in making sure that a processing plant will be running at its optimum.

“It’s about peace of mind,” said Rebecchi. “This is what production and plant managers are looking for in their production processes because it not only helps guarantee their output and yield, it also leads to a reduction of rejects. From a consumer point of view, and as a manufacturer, they are making sure that they have a lot of it covered so the product comes out to the correct specification all the time. We are assisting and improving that process with this grease.”

What it also covers is compliance. This is something that is becoming prevalent as more standards and regulations are implemented. Consumers not only want to know about the calories, packaging and make-up of a product, but also where it came from and where it was processed and packaged. And under what conditions.

“The food and beverage processing industry is very highly regulated and is becoming more so,” said Rebecchi. “The world needs to be fed and there is a growing population so there is more governance within the industry where manufacturers need to be 100 per cent compliant. Plant managers will know that if they are using NSF-compliant grease from NTN then they are on their way to compliance.

“This opens up export markets. It’s also good as a corporation from a corporate social responsible point of view that you’re doing the right thing by the environment. You are eliminating waste. You’re producing to a standard to where your manufacturing processes are optimised all the time. This is what this grease allows you to do. Our bearings and LP09 solid grease are of very high quality and designed for specific solutions,” he said. “That is where our customers can get involved with our engineering and sales people for specific solutions to unique customer requirements. NTN will come up with a direct solution if possible.”

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Increased power rating with Poly Chain belts

The Poly Chain GT Carbon is Gates most powerful synchronous belt, has been designed for optimum performance on high torque, low speed drives in any industrial application. This lightweight belt features increased power ratings of up to 30 per cent higher than previous constructions, while maintaining the same long service life.

Poly Chain GT Carbon belts operate on Poly Chain GT sprockets and do not require any adaptation of existing GT2 applications. The belt’s construction is based on innovative design. The body and teeth of the belt are made of a unique polyurethane compound, making the belt tough and virtually immune to abrasion and chemical attack.

The belts are ideal for washdown environments when used with Gates nickel plated or stainless steel hardware. These belts also make an excellent alternative to roller chains, requiring neither retensioning nor lubrication. Space-saving, weight-saving and money-saving, Poly Chain GT Carbon drives offer a long and reliable service life.

Its teeth and body are made of a lightweight polyurethane compound, especially blended for adhesion to the cords and fabric. The carbon fibre tensile cords provide extraordinary power carrying capacity.

Flex fatigue life of carbon is exceptional, and its high impact strength withstands shocks and surge loading.

Another in the Gates range is the Poly Chain Carbon Volt belts, which deliver very good antistatic performance. Antistatic power transmission belts are a must in volatile environments.

Power transmission belts that meet the ISO 9563 standard for static conductivity are only required to meet that level when new. As soon as the belts are in use, their antistatic properties decrease.

These belts deliver reliable dissipation of electrostatic charges. They are suitable on ACHE (air cooled heat exchangers) for maximum efficiency and optimum air flow. The 8GTV and 14GTV units are static conductive to ISO 9563.

They are also suitable for replacing belt and roller chain drives in explosive environments such as flour, sugar and grain processing plants.

They are of patented static conductive construction, with their teeth and body being made of a lightweight polyurethane compound, specially blended for adhesion to the cords and fabric.

They also have a patent-pending antistatic black tooth jacket, while the carbon fibre tensile cords provide good power-carrying capacity.

The flex fatigue life of carbon is great, and its high-impact strength withstands shocks and surge loading.

Other features of both belts include they are maintenance free, have 400 per cent greater capacity than HTD belts, with 99 per cent efficiency for life of the drive and cuts maintenance and downtime machinery. They can also reduce weight and overhung loads, have more than 120,000 possible drive combinations, are inert to most acids, chemicals and water, and have a temperature range of -54°C to +85°C