Wednesday 20th Nov, 2019

X-Life marks the spot

X-Life marks the spot

Schaeffler’s X-Life range of spherical roller bearings are helping bulk handling machinery run for longer, reducing costs.

Spherical roller bearings are used across a number of industrial applications where heavy loads and moderate speeds are involved.

They offer a high radial load capacity, support axial loads in both directions, handle misalignment, and can take shock loads, making them highly effective in various bulk materials handling environments.

As a result, spherical roller bearings are often found in any large bulk handling machinery, such as conveyor belt pulleys, bucket and screw conveyors, bucket wheel excavators, stacker reclaimers or shiploaders.

To ensure these critical components can run for as long as possible, Schaeffler has developed the X-Life range of bearings, which boasts high performance and reliability.

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Schaeffler has designed the bearings to have dynamic load ratings up to 15 per cent higher than previous generations, with an increase in rating life of up to 60 per cent under the same operating conditions.

Owen Clifford, Graduate Applications Engineer at Schaeffler, says it’s important to improve the lifespan of bearings, as it allows machinery to run for longer and reduce the total cost of ownership.

“A high-quality bearing ensures reliable machinery operation, which reduces machinery downtime and extends operating life, reducing a company’s maintenance expenditure,” he says.

“Our range of X-Life roller bearings have an optimised internal construction. Changes to bearing internal geometry and other features have improved performance significantly.

“Improvements have been made to the surface quality – new steel and brass cage designs compared to old generations that reduce friction and heat generation within the bearing.”

Schaeffler’s research and development was mostly performed on the internal features of the bearing, optimising the internal construction to improve the roller geometries and guidance. This, along with an improved surface quality with reduced roughness, provides more uniform contact zones within the bearings.

With these improvements, the entire system can perform better internally, with improved rolling kinematics. This decreases heat generation minimising stress on the lubricant, and lowers frictional torque meaning the bearing requires less input torque, which reduces energy costs.

With the internal components seeing significant improvements, Schaeffler has been able to optimise the bearings’ design envelope. It means an X-Life bearing can provide higher capacities that, in an older design, would require a larger size.

Mr Clifford says that minimising the size of a bearing means the housing or surrounding geometry can also be scaled down, lowering initial costs and reducing the amount of lubrication required to properly maintain the bearing.

“By using a bearing of smaller size, we can reduce preliminary costs and reduce machinery weight,” he says.

“By downsizing, considerable savings in energy requirements for operating bulk handling machinery can be made.”

Schaeffler Australia also operates a dedicated engineering department based in Sydney to offer after sales support. Due to some of the larger sized bearings requiring high-level expertise, Schaeffler offers mounting and dismounting services as well as handling any technical enquiries.

Online condition monitoring is also offered to help its customers reliably detect and resolve any potential bearing issues before they arise. Sensors and monitoring solutions can detect temperature and vibration in machinery, allowing the customer to monitor the condition of the system and gain insight of machine health and performance.

By monitoring this data, faults can be detected before they have a chance to accelerate and cause a potentially costly breakdown. Bulk handlers can then plan any maintenance in advance, so that any downtime is scheduled and doesn’t impact productivity.

Feedback from customers on the X-Life range has been positive, with Schaeffler X-Life bearings delivering results and reducing running costs where they have been installed.