According to Fabio Rebecchi, Product Manager for NTN bearings at CBC, as the mining sector has seen increased demand for iron ore and other key minerals over that time, there has been a corresponding need to manufacture larger equipment.
“With the tonnages in iron ore, and coal increasing year after year, we have seen an increase in demand for bearings, in particular, large bearings,” says Fabio. “As a result, components and supports have also been made larger for extraction and bulk handling processes, involving heavy mobile equipment, processing plants and conveyor systems.”
“Bigger equipment means bigger bearings, and longer lead times on supply,” says Fabio. “That said, there are a lot more bearings operating on sites now than there were15 years ago, but the quality and longevity of the bearings has improved.”
Fabio highlights the key areas he has seen improvement in with bearings: longevity, materials, installation processes, and maintenance procedures.
“If you look at older catalogues, you can see the evolution of technology across all industries, really.” says Fabio. “Prolonging the life of a bearing has included the incorporation of seals, proper lubrication, and aligning better fits upon installation,” he furthers.
“In addition to this, steel technology has become more advanced over the years because of the purity of steel and heat treatment processes applied in the manufacture of bearings. The static and dynamic load capacities have been increasing over time,” adds Fabio.
When NTN began expanding their global manufacturing and sales network, CBC became the direct link between the global manufacturing and engineering activities of NTN and the Australian market.
At present day, NTN is one of the top five bearing manufacturers in the world, and with backing from CBC, this allows them to deliver a full range of bearings products, technical support, and end-to-end logistics to the Australian market.
According to Ross Lee, Technical Manager of Strategic Partnerships – Bearings at CBC, “It’s all about consultation.”
“We at CBC are the first point of contact for customers in determining where they have a problem and where NTN can provide a solution. No matter the location in Australia, we have a commercial and technical liaison between the branch, the customer, and directly with the manufacturer,” says Ross.
“We have a network of account managers and technical specialists that engage with customers at the regional level, supporting mines and mineral processing plants. From there, we receive application engineering proposals and look at what we can put forward as a solution for a performance or a productivity problem,” he explains.
“Australian ingenuity coupled with Japanese product innovation has benefitted mining operations across the nation, through the provision of a wide range of bearing products,” says Ross. “Through NTN, we are always trying to offer an appropriate bearing solution and often we secure agreements based on all of the lines of communication we keep open across our networks,” Ross adds.
Within the mining sector, NTN is the direct supplier to major manufacturers of heavy mobile mining equipment. NTN also extensively services the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) segments of these businesses.
“This means that we supply not only parts and replacement bearings, but our bearings go into the original equipment as it’s sold,” explains Fabio. “A lot of what we do is servicing the after-market repairs for equipment. But it is a huge point of pride for us when we get to supply OEMs with the original bearings.”
Through direct collaboration between Japanese engineers at the NTN factory and CBC’s Australia-wide field technical service, CBC, part of Motion Asia Pacific, has been able to improve equipment reliability, productivity, and operational safety for the mining segment.
This process commences with a root-cause analysis investigation, that often draws on the resources of NTN Japan Engineering Centre and Laboratories.
“Some examples of applications where NTN enhanced bearing material technologies have significantly extended fatigue life of bearings in mining are in heavy mobile equipment drivetrains, and crushing and screening plants, says Ross.
“Our ‘Long Life’ bearing series has demonstrated a twofold increase in service life. This represents a very significant cost saving to operators in terms of higher output, reduced downtime, and reduced maintenance,” he adds.
In 1993, CBC supplied the largest spherical roller bearings NTN had ever produced, almost 2.2 metres in diameter, for a grinding mill trunnion application.
Moreover, beginning in 1999, the heaviest spherical roller bearings ever produced by NTN were supplied by CBC. These bearings weighed over 4 tonnes and were installed in high pressure grinding roll crushers.
Again, to meet and exceed the continuous improvement initiatives of Australia’s already highly productive mining organisations, NTN developed the Ultage range of sealed spherical roller bearings. Primarily applied to conveyor pulleys, the NTN design provides higher load ratings and easy installation.
Beyond ball and roller bearings, NTN Corporation are a major manufacturer of constant velocity
joints, including a dedicated range for industrial applications. In mining, NTN-CBC have used constant velocity joint driveshafts and couplings in both production plants and new application development projects.
“This ongoing relationship with NTN and CBC has helped CBC strengthen their position as a supplier and distributor within Australia and has allowed NTN to leave a national footprint in the mining industry here in Australia,” concludes Ross.
1927: NTN Manufacturing Co. Ltd is established in Japan.
1962: CBC’s strongest and longest-running partnership with NTN Corporation of Japan is formed.
1971: CBC’s relationship with NTN Corporation is formalised with the incorporation of the joint venture company, NTN-CBC Australia Pty Limited.
1990s: CBC held the record for supplying both the largest and the heaviest spherical roller bearing ever produced by NTN. These bearings were supplied to diamond mines in Western Australia.