Mackay is at the heart of Queensland’s mining industry, where resource extraction continues to boom, acting as a service hub for the surrounding Bowen and Galilee Basins. Every year, the Mackay Showgrounds come alive for the Queensland Mining Expo (QME), during which suppliers and visitors from around the country have an opportunity to interact face-to-face.

Michael Greelish, National Accounts Manager for Mining at Motion Australia, says that being able to connect with customers, old and new, at the 2022 QME offered the chance to provide some immediate and effective solutions. He cites one local business who approached the Motion Australia team with an issue that had been costing them significantly in downtime and bearing replacement costs.

“A lot of the time in mining, bearings are located in hard-to-reach places, where they often get very wet and dirty,” he points out. “This was making it difficult for their technicians to go in and manually lubricate with the frequency required to upkeep each part’s performance. They asked if we could recommend a resolve, and we suggested the self-lubricating NSK Molded-Oil™ as a better fit.”

According to Michael, the Motion Australia team was able to make the order then and there, streamlining the supply process. As expected, the product’s maintenance-free characteristics have led to an elimination of premature failures and increased uptime on the application.

“They have been extremely satisfied with the outcome and have since re-ordered higher quantities to use as a standard fitment,” he says. “These bearings also have the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly. Because the way the self-lubricating components are constructed, they mitigate the risk of oil leakage and reduce the amount of effort required to service each bearing.”

The solid polyolefin filling is a porous material and has a web-based structure with small pockets that hold the oil inside, explains Nitin Verma, Industrial Business Development Manager at NSK.

“When the bearing comes under load and rotates, that oil slowly seeps out of the pockets due to centrifugal force, so in that sense it is maintenance-free because it does not require manual lubrication.”

This is ideal for applications in mining, he adds, where equipment may be located in remote areas or is difficult to access for routine maintenance.

“The role of the filling component is twofold – not only does it house and release lubricant, it also offers an additional layer of protection against dust, dirt and water ingress which can accelerate internal wear. On a normal roller bearing, there will be grooves and holes on the outer ring where grease or oil is injected, but the Molded-Oil™ design doesn’t have that, so it is much better protected.”

He elaborates that the original Molded-Oil™ concept came up against a speed limitation, because the oil is drawn from the polyolefin by centrifugal force. If the bearing ran two quickly, the lubricant would be pulled out over too short a time period.

“To combat this, we developed a high-speed variation of the Molded-Oil™ technology, which uses a denser filling to release the lubricant over a longer time period. Our aim with this product has basically been to develop a ‘set and forget’ answer to the coasts, safety risks, and time associated with bearing upkeep in industries where contaminants are an ever-present challenge.”   

Maddie the Miner’s tips for selecting the right NSK Molded-Oil™ Bearing

• For low-speed and low-temperature applications, opt for the general-use (L11) product

• For conditions with high ambient temperature, the high-speed (L12) bearing is recommended

• More than 1% of the basic dynamic load rating is recommended as a standard of the radial load, which must be applied to rotate the bearing properly