Spindle bearings boost reliability
A large manufacturer of automotive engines says it has significantly improved the reliability of its CNC machining centres by adopting NSK sealed spindle bearings that prevent the ingress of cutting fluid.
The company says the result is a sizeable reduction in costs associated with replacement bearings, maintenance labour and production downtime, saving the plant almost €191,000 per year.
The automotive industry is renowned for its high-volume throughput and tight profit margins. With this thought in mind, production stoppages are extremely damaging in terms of both costs and the ability to meet customer demand. When a major engine manufacturer was struggling with failed bearings on its vertical-spindle machining centres, it knew that a robust solution was required urgently.
Calling upon the expertise of NSK and the company’s proven AIP (Added Value Programme), the engine plant was in safe hands. The NSK AIP Process Map focuses on key activities such as documented surveys, bearing condition assessments, the identification of critical bearing problems and generating reports with photographic records.
As part of the process, NSK’s failed bearing analysis showed lubrication damage due to coolant (used in the machining process) penetrating beyond the bearing seals. The company therefore recommended the adoption of its sealed angular contact ball bearings. These super precision bearings are ideal for use on the spindles of many machine tools, including vertical machining centres.
Notably, these bearings feature non-contact seals that serve to provide vital protection without compromising spindle performance (no speed reduction). This protection reduces any opportunities for lubricant migration, while simultaneously reducing raceway and ball surface wear, as well as noise and vibration. Sealed bearings also promote temperature stability and facilitate higher accuracy machining.
For the engine plant, the change of bearing with longer grease life led to an impressive 78% reduction in the number of failures, delivering annual cost savings calculated at €190,992.
Providing even more value for the customer as part of the AIP process, NSK also delivered training on optimal bearing mounting procedures and functioned as a machine design consultancy for associated housing components.