Advancements in industrial bearings and seals help improve longevity and functionality

Advancements in industrial bearings and seals help improve longevity and functionality

April 2, 2024
Sheila Kennedy says new monitoring and maintenance aids improve the performance and life span of these critical technologies.

How bearings and seals are constructed and managed makes all the difference in their performance and life span. New monitoring and maintenance aids and distinctive designs improve bearing efficiency, effectiveness, and reliability. Purpose-built sealing solutions meet complex requirements for uniquely challenging applications.

Novel bearing solutions

Bearing condition assessments and predictive maintenance help prevent downtime. OnTrak Wireless from UE Systems unifies the effort with a multi-parameter bearing health monitoring sensor and automated precision lubrication. The remote sensor monitors friction in real time, an AI-driven UE Insights platform supports early detection of anomalies, alerts are generated, and automatic lubrication is optimized for the condition.

OnTrak Wireless uses an “ultrasound-first strategy complemented by advanced vibration and temperature metrics through the 950BT sensor,” says Blair Fraser, VP at UE Systems. “By incorporating autonomous precision lubrication, the system prevents up to 80% of premature bearing failures.”

The new Bearing Toolbox calculator from SDT Ultrasound Solutions is an upgrade for the company’s Ultranalysis Suite 3 (UAS3) software platform. The calculator provides a database of more than 50,000 bearing references with fault frequency cursors from major bearing manufacturers, helping technicians analyzing ultrasound and vibration data trends to identify and diagnose bearing faults and take action more efficiently. 

“The Bearing Toolbox simplifies ultrasound data analysis by reducing the amount of time it takes, not to mention the monotony and human error aspect of having to perform these calculations manually,” says Matt Jeffrey, reliability technician at SDT Ultrasound Solutions. “Working with a wide array of bearings across a number of plants, I appreciate the ability to add custom bearings to the existing bearing reference database.”

A new bearing cage design for the N10 cylindrical roller bearing series from Schaeffler was developed to deliver greater performance and reliability. The cage construction simplifies pneumatic oil lubrication for the super-precision bearing series, allowing for more uniform temperature behavior of the bearing, longer grease operating life, and an expanded application range.

“Schaeffler optimized the guidance system of the PEEK cage in our N10-series bearings to deliver better high-speed stability, lower friction, and improved lubricant flow with either grease or oil,” explains E.R. Muntz, senior application engineer for industrial automation at Schaeffler. “The result is a cylindrical roller bearing product family with higher permissible speeds, lower noise, and reduced operating temperatures.” 

Targeted seal designs

Sealing requirements vary by application. The Type SB2/SB2A USP seal from John Crane is designed for pumps and other rotary process equipment used in environmentally hazardous and abrasive applications in the pulp and paper and mining industries. It combines the company’s Type SB2/SB2A heavy-duty dual cartridge seal and Upstream Pumping (USP) seal face technology to improve reliability and reduce water and power consumption. 

Type SB2/SB2A USP is “designed to operate in harsh conditions, handling abrasive fluids and slurry duties, while combating severe-service conditions such as high-heat generation, low-lubricity and dry-running,” says Minhal Rizvi, global product manager at John Crane. “Our unique USP technology virtually eliminates cooling and flush water requirements and generates considerable energy savings.”

For rigorous oil and gas industry requirements, products such as DuPont’s Kalrez OG193 perfluoroelastomer parts and Vespel parts and shapes enable high-performance, mission-critical sealing. Kalrez OG193 combines best-in-class rapid gas decompression (RGD) performance and chemical resistance with good low temperature and thermal stability, as well as excellent versatility, says Shyamal Desai, global product manager for DuPont Kalrez. 

“DuPont Vespel polyimide parts and shapes offer consistent low permeability and exceptional sealing properties, making them ideal for valve stem packs and valve seats and enabling significant reductions of fugitive emissions in applications such as gas pipelines,” Desai adds.

Collaborative robots, or cobots, have unique sealing needs. A manufacturer needed a sealing solution to reliably protect the joints of its cobot from dust, splash water, and other contaminants over the cobot’s life. “Based on this requirement, we designed a new sealing geometry, a z-profile, with a second groove,” says Alexander May, product developer at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. “This significantly reduced the contact pressure and resolved the customer’s requirement for a moment of friction of less than 1 newton-meter (Nm).”

Freudenberg Sealing Technologies also had its supplier develop a three-component anti-friction coating with a high carbon content to further reduce wear. “The material used, 92 AU 21101, is very soft and flexible and has a Shore hardness of 92. The tensile strength is well above the required minimum value of 50 MPa," notes May.

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or

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