Tag Archives: SKF

Brammer Buck & Hickman on achieving the three ‘Rs’ in bearings

At a time when the world is looking to limit its energy usage and impact on the climate, pressure is mounting on the mining industry, worldwide, to play its part in the transition to a net zero economy, Alan Stewart* writes.

The products and services we produce need to be sustainable; they need to be produced through economically-sound processes that minimise negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.

Individual bearings use relatively little energy, but as they are in such widespread use, and are also one of the most frequently replaced machinery components, the sustainability of the bearings you use matters. By applying the three Rs waste hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – to bearings, we can make a genuine difference.


Is it possible to reduce the number of bearings used? Well, you can’t simply not use a bearing where one is required, but, by extending their life, you can reduce the total number of bearings used during that machine’s lifespan.

To ensure longevity, select the right bearing for the task at hand. There’s an incredibly wide range to choose from, many of which have been created for use in mines and other similarly demanding environments. SKF Explorer Spherical Roller Bearings, for example (pictured), are ideally suited for operation in harsh conditions, including mining. They help cut costs and extend bearing service life thanks to their high radial and axial load-carrying capacity and low operating friction. They have recently been upgraded to feature even higher quality steel and an improved heat treatment, for an even better service life performance. A specialist version for vibratory applications, such as vibrating screens, is available, which is proven to last twice as long as other screen bearings and also operate at lower temperatures.

It’s important to do your homework or ask for advice on the bearing best suited to your specific needs.

Not only should the bearing be the right type, but it should also be of a good quality. Opting for a low cost, unrecognisable brand not only risks premature failure and costly downtime, but it may also lose performance over time, which almost always results in wasted energy as most systems keep drawing power despite the drop or lack of output. Every second of wasted production equates to wasted energy and impacts on a days’ production targets.

Ensuring the product is correctly fitted also has a part to play. Misalignment can lead to friction and vibration which can significantly increase energy consumption, plus the risk of premature failures. Alignment tools are readily available which allow you to increase machine reliability through easy to use and accurate alignment. Other options include selecting products that don’t require realignment, such as SKF Cooper Split Spherical Roller Bearings that do not require the drive coupling or the cantilevered drive to be dismounted to replace the bearing; these bearing types are easily and safely replaced in-situ. This also greatly reduces the safety risk to workers in mines and makes for faster maintenance, reducing mean time to repair by two thirds.

Reduce the amount of lubrication you use by using sealed, re-lubrication-free bearings such as SKF’s Three-Barrier Solution. In mining environments, open bearings quickly become damaged from ingress of dirt. SKF’s Three-Barrier Solution (ideally suited to conveyor systems) consists of a bearing housing – with labyrinth S seals, a lubricant to act as a contamination barrier and sealed spherical roller bearing. These three barriers protect the bearing from contaminants, leading to extended bearing service life which is, on average, three times longer than standard open bearings.

Sealed bearing units also help to reduce lubrication usage. Alternatively, automated lubrication systems can be installed to ensure the correct amount of lubrication is applied, reducing wastage.


When it comes to reuse, you may be surprised to hear that bearings can be remanufactured, which can significantly prolong bearing service life, as well as reduce cost and lead times. A large variety of bearing types can be remanufactured, including backing bearings, caster bearings, large sized bearings, slewing bearings and housings. Bearing remanufacturing can significantly reduce carbon emissions, consuming around 10% of the energy of making a new one. By extending bearing service, remanufacturing avoids the scrapping of components and wasteful use of natural resources.

In addition to bearings remanufacture, lubricants can also be reused in some cases. SKF’s RecondOil, for example, removes contaminants from used oils, and returns them to a cleaner, usable and high-grade state. Compared to a traditional, linear use, regenerating the oils allows for a significant decrease of CO2 emissions.


While the amount of steel per bearing is on the decline due to better bearing design and more efficient manufacturing methods, that steel still has a value as scrap. Not all bearings are easy to recycle though and normally only parts of them can be recycled. Check with the manufacturer.

Beyond the product

The three Rs are a good starting point to help improve the sustainability of your bearings’ usage, but you can’t apply sustainability to the product in isolation. It’s important to take into account every aspect surrounding that product, including the manufacturer and its suppliers and distributors. Sustainability should encompass the use of raw materials; the manufacturer’s factory processes and utilisation of those materials; the amount and type of energy used to make the bearings; distribution and transportation. Does the manufacturer deploy the IS0 14001 Environmental Management System and the ISO 50001 Energy Management System across all of its sites, for example?

Reducing wastage when it comes to bearings is not only good for the planet, but makes good business sense. A bearing that performs well over a long period of time is a bearing that won’t slow your machinery down and won’t lead to expensive unplanned maintenance and downtime. Applying the three Rs to bearings is a good investment in the future, whichever way you look at it.

*Alan Stewart is Brammer Buck & Hickman Bearing Product Manager – SKF Products

SKF addresses service life of large sealed bearings for HPGRs with Explorer SRBs

SKF says it has extended its range of large bearings for roller presses, with a sealed version that prolongs service life in equipment such as high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs).

Its Explorer spherical roller bearings (SRBs) in the 241 series are now available up to 1,250 mm bore, with this series and sizes commonly used in HPGRs in cement and mining operations.

“Using sealed bearings is the best way to increase mean time between failures,” Daniel Ortega, Product Line Manager for Sealed SRBs at SKF (pictured), says. “It is a long-term investment that increases machine availability and reliability.”

The new version – which is sealed on both sides – offers up to double the lifetime of an open bearing and has shown in tests that it reduces grease consumption by up to 99%, SKF says.

In a HPGR, four large spherical roller bearings are usually used. During a maintenance interval of three months, normally 540 kg of grease is used for certain sizes. With sealed Explorer spherical roller bearings, only 7 kg of grease is needed during the same interval, according to the company, reducing both cost and environmental impact.

In addition, the sealed SRB can be remanufactured twice, which further extends service life. This raises productivity and machine availability while lowering total cost of ownership.

The new bearing has been redesigned to have a higher load-carrying capacity. Bearings with a bore diameter below 1,000 mm have an HNBR seal that is retained by a snap ring. Larger bearings use a G-ECOPUR seal that is bolted to the bearing’s outer ring.

The sealed bearing can be used on its own, or as part of an SKF three-barrier solution.

Roller press bearings often wear out because ineffective sealing leads to lubricant contamination. The sealed bearings overcome this problem – and this delivers several advantages, SKF says:

  • First, bearing failure relates to more maintenance interventions, which carries a higher risk of accident and injury and expensive shutdowns;
  • The new design also offers a maintenance benefit. Rather than stopping production for preventive maintenance of the bearing, the wear of the roller press roller determines when a service is needed; and
  • The bearings are available with short delivery times – even in the largest sizes.

SKF and CPS strengthen conveyor roller collaboration

Conveyor Products and Solutions’ (CPS) conveyor roller and idler sets have achieved “SKF Equipped” status, providing clients with assurance of industry-leading premium quality conveyor products and technology, CPS says.

The trademark licence agreement with SKF builds on the supply partnership between the two companies, which has been in place since 2013.

“CPS clients can be assured that CPS conveyor roller and idler sets are of the highest quality and have passed SKF’s strict quality standards on the overall performance and reliability of each rotating equipment component,” CPS said.

Under the terms of this agreement, SKF will be supplying the bearings and bearing components, to be included as an integrated part in CPS Conveyor Rollers. The SKF Equipped status then provides CPS the right to label its conveyor roller and idler sets as “SKF Equipped” and use it in promotional materials, the company said.

“CPS has always had a long-standing relationship with SKF, and this agreement cements our partnership and common goal of leading the industry in conveyor roller technology and quality,” Michael Einhorn, CPS CEO said.

SKF and NLS collaborating in Namibia mining market

SKF has appointed a new authorised distributor in Namibia as it looks to grow its network to deliver “innovative bearing and rotation technology solutions to customers across the sub-continent”, Christian Murman, SKF South Africa’s Business Development Manager – Neighbouring Countries, says.

Namibian Lubrication Systems (NLS), which specialises in the supply of lubrication equipment and systems to the industrial and mining sectors across the entire Erongo, Khomas, Karas and Otjozondjupa regions of Namibia, has been an SKF authorised distributor since September 2019.

The company was established by André Bezuidenhout in Oranjemund in 2000 and, in the same year, it was appointed as the sole distributor for Lincoln Lubrication South Africa, part of the SKF global group. NLS also holds the title as the only company in Namibia qualified to service and repair all Lincoln Lubrication equipment.

Murman explains how SKF and NLS have been collaborating since being the Namibia-based company came on board as an authorised distributor: “While calling on customers together with our new authorised distributor, we received an enquiry from a gold mine for a replacement bearing for their stock for an upcoming project in Q1 (March quarter) 2020.”

The gold mine shared a long history with NLS and Lincoln products giving the company an in-depth knowledge of the operation, SKF said.

“But, as a newly appointed SKF authorised dealer, NLS was still on a learning curve regarding SKF products and thus decided to call upon the expertise of SKF’s Engineering Department. Cody Petersen, Junior Project Engineer at SKF, was considered as the best person to assist in making this project a bonafide success.”

After putting heads together, the SKF 4176 ECAK30/C3W33 replacement bearing was recommended. NLS submitted a quote and, after a follow-up call, the mine placed the order in November.

This successful project and collaboration between the companies affirms SKF’s decision to appoint NLS as an authorised distributor, SKF said.

“The company has an excellent footprint within the country, boasts a stellar reputation for on-site service and has technicians on contract at most of the mines in Namibia who look after Lincoln products,” Murman said.

Now, as a SKF authorised distributor, NLS is responsible for delivering the comprehensive SKF product and service portfolio in Namibia focusing on a condition monitoring service delivered by the company’s technicians who have been specifically trained in this field.

“NLS’ ultimate goal is to have multi-skilled technicians that are able to offer customers a complete maintenance package, thereby securing all the Lincoln Lubrication and SKF product offerings,” SKF said.

Murman concluded: “The success of this project solidifies our position as a powerhouse duo in the Namibian mining space. Furthermore, this agreement enables us to leverage off our Lincoln Distributor’s excellent reputation in the local market.

“When customers can see the real value that our authorised dealers add to their mine, plant or operation and realise that they are able to rely on their expertise, it becomes a win-win scenario.”

Boliden Kevitsa collaborating on process plant maintenance

Boliden is a front-runner when it comes to applying technology and innovation to its Europe-based mines, and the company is now leading an industry move in condition monitoring and predictive maintenance in its process plants.

At its Kevitsa copper-nickel mine, 130 km north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, Boliden has been collaborating with the likes of IBM Maximo, OSISoft, SKF and Metso on condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions, according to Sami Pelkonen, Maintenance and Engineering Manager at Boliden Kevitsa.

Expansion in the plans

The mine is in the throes of an SEK800 million ($82 million) expansion that will see plant throughput go from 7.8 Mt/y to 9.5 Mt/y. This involves the addition of a new autogenous mill and peripheral equipment (including a new Metso MF series screen), and a new mill building. Commissioning of the new equipment is expected in 2020, with the mine reaching full 9.5 Mt/y capacity in 2021.

With this expansion going on, plant maintenance has moved up the agenda.

Some 80% of process plant maintenance is currently pre-scheduled, with the Kevitsa mine achieving, on average, 93% availability from its equipment, according to Pelkonen, but Boliden Kevitsa is looking to increase these numbers.

Pelkonen told IM late in October that the Kevitsa mine has been looking to acquire “good quality…and useful data to support our daily maintenance operations and procedures” at its plant. This is all part of the company’s plan to increase uptime and cut costs at the operation.

As part of this initiative, it installed the IBM Maximo asset management system in May of this year. At the same time, the operation has been working with the Boliden Mines Technology Department on a wider asset management program.

When it comes to plant reliability, Boliden Kevitsa has enlisted the help of SKF (for condition monitoring of bearings throughout the plant), OSISoft for process data acquisition, and Metso to ensure uptime of mineral processing equipment is maximised and unplanned downtime is reduced.

Partnering for performance

The partnership with Metso dates back to before the mine was acquired by Boliden in 2016, but in recent years the two have collaborated on crusher and mill uptime projects, with the OEM supplying mill liners and wear parts that can be switched out quickly and cost effectively. The two firms have also been in constant communication about accessing and analysing valuable process plant data during the last three years.

When the mine acquired a new MF screen from Metso in May (pictured), it decided now was the time to trial the new Metso Metrics predictive maintenance platform in this part of the flowsheet.

Pelkonen explained: “After the increase in production (to 9.5 Mt/y), the front end will be even more critical for us, so we have to be aware if any failures are developing in our front end; especially in our screen.”

The remote location of Kevitsa, situated some 40 km by road from Sodankylä, is also behind the need for this type of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.

“If something happens like we have an equipment failure, it takes around one hour for our employees to get to the mine,” he said. “Condition monitoring helps us address the need to get resources to site in the correct time.”

The Metso Metrics test paid off almost instantly, when, soon after installation, the company noticed there was something wrong with the running speed of the screen.

“The indication we received from Metso Metrics helped us map out that there were two broken V belts. We were able to cut the downtime to a minimum thanks to the information coming from Metrics,” Pelkonen explained.

Sami Pelkonen was speaking to IM as part of an upcoming Insight Interview with experts from Boliden Kevitsa and Metso that will be published in early-2020

SKF to help customers transition to condition-based monitoring practices

SKF, a global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics and lubrication systems, has released a new digital vibration monitoring solution that, it says, allows industrial businesses to adopt smart condition-based maintenance practices.

SKF Enlight ProCollect is a new portable solution for customers after a condition-based maintenance procedure, or those seeking to extend their machine monitoring programs to a wider range of assets, it said.

The solution incorporates an updated version of SKF’s QuickCollect hand-held sensor, together with the new mobile app, SKF ProCollect. Running on a standard iOS or Android device, ProCollect has been designed to simplify the collection, interpretation and communication of both operational and machine condition data, according to SKF. Furthermore, the new software links to SKF Enlight Centre – SKF’s advanced, web-based monitoring platform.

“Enlight ProCollect is easy for non-specialists to use, allowing frontline operators and maintenance personnel to incorporate vibration monitoring tasks into their everyday activities,” SKF said.

“For example, pre-programmed inspection routes can be downloaded from Enlight Centre to a ProCollect device, which will then guide the operator through the steps necessary to collect data. That data is then transferred automatically to the Enlight Centre platform, where it can be analysed and visualised.”

Enlight ProCollect comes equipped with pre-programmed alarms to help operators and maintenance staff to diagnose and fix common problems. The visualisation capabilities of the Enlight Centre platform, meanwhile, allow companies to generate dashboards that provide an overview of plant performance.

Maintenance teams can use the platform’s suite of advanced tools to spot trends, diagnose problems and conduct root-cause analyses, according to SKF. Users also have the option of a connection to SKF Remote Diagnostic Services, giving them access to the company’s global network of reliability experts.

Enlight ProCollect customers can opt to buy the solution outright or choose a subscription approach that provides all the hardware, software and support services they need for a fixed monthly fee, according to SKF.

Barrie Rodgers Product Line Manager, Mobile Solutions at SKF, said: “Our subscription model allows companies to shift the cost of maintenance program improvements from capex to opex. They can easily extend their agreement to include other equipment and services – such as bearings or lubrication.”

PROK Conveyor Components and SKF sign ‘Australia first’ bearing agreement

PROK Conveyor Components has announced a strategic partnership with SKF and the introduction of the “SKF Equipped program”.

PROK claims the agreement is an Australia first, being the only time in the country an original equipment manufacturer has integrated SKF bearings into its products.

The company said: “Through working with SKF and combining market leading bearing technology and testing of the new composite range of PROK rollers, the PROKOMPOSITE, customers can be certain that they are buying the best product in the market.”

PROK says the PROKOMPOSITE rollers generate more than 50% less noise than traditional steel rollers, are up to 55% lighter than traditional steel rollers and cost up to 20% less to own due to easier maintenance and lower energy demands.

The PROKOMPOSITE range of conveyor rollers will come standard with SKF Ball Bearings and PROK bearing housing technology verified and tested by SKF, according to PROK. This combination will provide customers with unmatched performance and sealing protection, thus increasing the life of the rollers and reducing the overall total cost of ownership, the company claimed.

PROK said: “After extensive testing it was clear that SKF Bearings were a great fit for PROK’s range of PROKOMPOSITE rollers. Being an ISO 9001 certified company, PROK was able to achieve SKF Equipped status by meeting high quality standards on the design, manufacture and assembly procedures of rotating equipment set out by SKF. This is an exciting venture for both companies.”

SKF acquires cleantech company focused on industrial lubrication

SKF, a global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services, has acquired RecondOil Sweden AB, cleantech company that has developed a chemical filtration and rejuvenation process for industrial lubrication fluid and slop oil.

The acquisition is set to strengthen SKF’s lubrication management business and rotating equipment performance offering, the company said, adding that RecondOil posted turnover of SEK10 million (1.06 million) in 2017.

Alrik Danielson, President and CEO of SKF, said: “This acquisition is a good strategic fit for us. It complements our existing offer around the rotating shaft and will strengthen our ability to offer customers a fee-based value proposition, in which lubrication management systems play an important role.

“The acquisition is also in-line with our ambition to develop and offer solutions that help customers reduce the environmental impact of their own operations. By bringing together RecondOil’s technology with SKF’s scope and industrial expertise, we will be able to industrialise this offering.”