Speed, revolution, and asset lifecycle management at SKF Technical Day

When SKF holds its Technical Press Day each year, it brings together a program that’s rich with applications. This past event was no different, with presentations including Travis’ Geisler’s high-speed report on SKF’s partnership with Team Penske and Randy Greaser’s explanation of the challenges that were overcome when designing and building High Roller, the world’s largest observation wheel, towering over the Las Vegas Strip at 550 ft. Twenty-eight cabins revolve at approximately 1 ft/s, and 112 locked coil cables — each weighing around 3,000 lb — hold it all together.

High Roller design considerations included a 50+ year design life, misalignment, installation loads, fixed/float considerations, low speed, wind loads, seismic events, lubrication, housing deflections, shaft deflections, and cable loading. “We needed a complete analysis and design within four months because there were a lot of parts that were important,” said Greaser. “We have a lot of standard maintenance and installation guys. The bearing was almost 20,000 lb. We had to figure out how to install it and provide detailed installation instructions.”

All excellent presentations and excellent learning opportunities to apply technology from one industry or application and translating it to another. But the best part of the day each year is the annual insights provided by Jon Stevens, SKF’s vice president of Solution Factories in North America. This year’s theme was lifecycle management. How do you think about technology from the beginning to the end?

SKF (www.skf.com) is far from its end, but its beginnings date back to 1907, and 2013 sales exceeded $10 billion. The Swedish knowledge-engineering company employs more than 48,000 people worldwide at 165 production sites in 29 countries. North America now accounts for 24% of global sales, up significantly over the previous 19% mark. SKF has added six more Solution Factory installations worldwide, including North American facilities in Toronto, Canada, and Birmingham, Alabama.

“We started with reducing friction and energy in 1907,” explained Stevens. “If you reduce friction, you have more productivity and have less impact on the environment.”

SKF Life Cycle Management is a continuous process that includes specification, design and development, manufacturing and testing, installation and commissioning, operation and monitoring, maintenance and repair, and then the cycle continues again with specification. Closing the loop is critical. “There's a lot of learning in maintain and repair and in operate and monitor that never makes it back into how things are specified and designed,” said Stevens. “There's this break. Things on the shop floor don't make it back to engineering, and things in engineering don't make it to the shop floor.”

Getting information and knowledge where and when you need it was a common theme of Stevens’ presentations. SKF has introduced its share of mobile apps. “We're using apps for the iPad and Android platforms,” he said. “We're trying to bring knowledge closer to where it needs to be used. They're pretty simple and easy to use. We're developing more and more apps around solving the problems. The apps are available for download from the App Store. More and more people have phones and iPads on the shop floor.”

SKF Shelf gives access to a library of SKF product and technology literature. There’s also SKF Bearing Calculator and SKF Belt Calculator. SKF Dial Set software assists in setting up SKF automation lubricators and calculates proper lubricant quantities.

Also new and notable is the SKF TKTL 40 infrared thermometer, which enables safe and efficient measurement of machine surface temperatures at a distance. It has a distance to spot ratio of 50:1 and enables readings to be reviewed and shared.

And how could a day with SKF be complete without bearing news? Its black oxide bearings resist corrosion and smearing; improve performance in low-lubrication conditions; limit the risk of fretting, micropitting, and cracking; and reduce the potential for bearing damage from aggressive oil additives. Managing your equipment lifecycle just got easier.

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