Mining and mineral processing operations in Australia are highly dispersed, and in many instances, far from major support centres. Mining companies are compelled to maintain critical insurance spares to mitigate equipment failure downtime. However, there are still gaps in component part inventories such as bearings.

There are cases where rare and large size ball or roller bearings, critical to the mine production, are not immediately available. This is where CBC’s industry knowledge, product portfolio, and wide-reaching manufacturer resources can deliver value.

Over the years, CBC Australia has delivered a multitude of such rapid response solutions. In recent times, when a mining company experienced a failure of a large size bearing on a production critical equipment, they faced weeks of downtime before a replacement bearing could be delivered from overseas. The company consulted representatives from their local CBC Australia branch, who then collaborated with key bearing partner NTN, to arrive at a timely solution.

Ross Lee, CBC’s Technical Manager of Strategic Partnerships – Bearings, says the CBC customer did not have any redundancy for this production equipment and the spherical roller bearing in question was not of a type and size common to industry stocking.

“We evaluated an NTN bearing of the same inside and outside diameter, but significantly narrower than the bearing required. This alternate bearing was available from CBC interstate stock, and although of lower dynamic load capacity, it would still deliver over 50% of the service life of the original bearing. Therefore, it was a better solution in terms of lead time.

“The team at NTN assisted us to ship the bearing. The servicing CBC branch team then arranged for a suitable tapered sleeve and the required spacers to be made locally in a very short time frame to mount the bearing to the existing shaft and housing chamber,” Ross says.

The fast response by the CBC and NTN teams enabled the mine to fire up the equipment only three days after the critical failure, avoiding more than five weeks of potential downtime.

In another instance during the prevailing COVID-19 disruptions, a customer rebuilding a surface mining equipment module within a designated time frame, required bearings not readily available from the original equipment manufacturer. NTN and the local CBC support team assisted with alternate bearings applicable to another equipment manufacturer. A tri-party teleconference was then conducted along with relevant technical submissions to confirm this no-compromise alternate supply proposal, and the job proceeded on time.

Using their combined design and manufacturing capabilities, the teams at NTN-CBC have also introduced unique bearing solutions tailored to Australian mining and associated industries. This includes the expansion of the current range of Sealed Spherical Roller Bearings for tapered bore sizes 140mm through to
480mm. These are the latest products in the NTN Ultage series of high-performance bearings.

Fabio Rebecchi, NTN-CBC Australia’s National Product Manager, says the NTN Sealed Spherical Roller Bearing has been gaining more popularity within heavy industries such as mining and quarrying.

“The Ultage series spherical roller bearings are designed to work in the harshest environments and on the equipment that require extended maintenance intervals. The bearing features removable contact sealed on both sides, and the unique lip structure maintains even contact pressure even under misalignment,” says Fabio.

“The internal design of NTN Sealed Spherical Roller Bearing permits maximum roller sizing, delivering the highest Dynamic Rating available for this class of bearing,” Fabio says.

Ease of grease lubrication is another key feature of the NTN sealed spherical roller bearing, according to Fabio.

“Because the seals are readily removable, and bearings supplied with one seal removed to customers, they can select the optimum grease type for their application. This allows the end-user to use the same grease as they currently use on their site to avoid any risk of cross-contamination by using multiple greases,” Fabio says.

The dimensions of all NTN sealed spherical roller bearings comply with ISO standards, making it easy to replace existing spherical roller bearings and to utilise standard adaptive sleeves. The sealed NTN spherical roller bearings also accept misalignments of up to 0.5˚ with no reduction in seal performance,” he concludes.