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The food industry demands many prerequisites of its bearings, not least long service life, high-speed capability, hygienic operation and robust sealing technology. Without these attributes, food plants will incur higher maintenance costs and unscheduled production downtime, both of which impact upon bottom-line profitability. To overcome these issues, increasing numbers of vegetable processing facilities are identifying NSK’s Life-Lube® series as the optimum bearing choice for demanding applications such as washing systems.

Life-Lube® bearing units comprise two key components, the first of which is a thermoplastic polyester (PBT) housing that provides corrosion resistance and eliminates any risk of contamination from painted or coated surfaces. The housing also features nitrile rubber seals to prevent the ingress of contamination and water/cleaning chemicals from repeated washdown procedures. In comparison with standard bearings, users of Life-Lube® units can reduce or even eliminate the annual costs associated with maintenance and downtime.

The stainless-steel insert of the Life-Lube® series features NSK’s proprietary Molded-Oil cavity, which contains a lifetime of lubricating oil and polyolefin resin so that no re-lubrication is required – again reducing maintenance costs.

Among a growing number of food plants enjoying the benefits of Life-Lube® bearing units is a premium vegetable processing company. The facility was previously experiencing frequent bearing failures on a high-volume carrot washing line, causing significant downtime and reduced production. The company would often have to change its bearings every six weeks.

NSK performed a bearing failure analysis and application review as part of its AIP Added Value Programme. In particular, NSK conducted a process mapping exercise of the carrot washing operation, identifying problematic areas for the bearings. The analysis revealed that the ingress of hard-particle contamination and washdown fluids were significantly reducing bearing life. In effect, the lubricant of the standard bearings was washing out, leading to premature failures.

The expert team of NSK specialists recommended Life-Lube® bearing units featuring Molded-Oil inserts, with a subsequent trial demonstrating vastly improved bearing life. No failures had occurred after a year of operation. The vegetable processing company is now enjoying significant annual cost savings, with reduced downtime and maintenance, as well as increased productivity.

Ideal for any operations where contact with process fluids is unavoidable, NSK Life-Lube® bearing units are available in bore sizes from 20-40 mm. To ensure design flexibility, housings come in various types, including two-bolt, four-bolt, pillow block and take-up units.

About NSK Europe

NSK Europe Ltd. is the European organisation of the Tokyo-based bearing manufacturer NSK, which was founded in Japan in 1916 and today employs nearly 30,400 people in its worldwide operations. The products and solutions provided by the industrial and automotive supplier can be found wherever things move. In addition to nearly all types of rolling bearings, the company’s portfolio includes housed bearings, linear technology, wheel bearing units, transmission and engine bearings and steering systems. The company is oriented to perfection in all of its business activities. Its aim is quality leadership in its industry, which it strives for through a continuous process of improvement, excellent product development, optimised production processes and customer-oriented service processes. In fiscal year 2020, the more than 4,350 employees of NSK Europe Ltd. generated sales of over € 792 million.