Bearings are indispensable machine components across all kinds of mechanical systems. If bearings cease to function, entire machines can be brought down with them.

Given the sheer size and scale of modern mining machinery and operations, bearing failure must be avoided. So, it’s unsurprising so much scientific and engineering research is directed towards devising new means of protecting them, and by association the systems of which bearings are part.

For Ross Lee, Technical Manager – Strategic Partnerships at CBC, much of his career has been dedicated to rolling bearing application engineering.

Even so, fresh surprises and cutting-edge innovations never cease to impress seasoned bearings experts like Ross.

One such innovation is the Timken® ES302 coating, part of the brand’s award-winning Timken® Engineered Surface Technology Coatings portfolio.

In simple terms, the ES302 provides a “superior wear resistance and friction reduction coating,” a shorthand description for this innovation in specially engineered nanostructure surface coatings, one that sets a new standard of maximum durability for spherical roller, tapered roller, cylindrical roller and thrust bearings.

Ross explains the practical significance of the Timken® ES302 coating by bringing the discussion back down to earth.

“In terms of application potential, what we’re talking about here is applications for medium to large size bearings,” he says. “Think large size dump truck drives. Trucks tasked with moving huge tonnages – in coal, Iron ore, and hard rock mining.”

“These are ideal for frontline fleet haulage vehicles,” he explains. “Their productivity, reliability, and availability for mine operations are critical for operations, and so too are the bearings inside the vehicles.”

The maximal protection provided by the Timken® ES302 coating is not necessary for most applications, Ross says. Rather, its value demonstrates itself in mine sites subject to extreme conditions causing bearing rolling contact surface distress – where risks of particle debris contamination, high loading, and lubrication deterioration are prevalent. These are exacerbated by extreme ambient heat compounds already hot drivetrains to generate very high operating temperatures.

But a sophisticated technology like Timken® ES302 is only as good as its implementation, Ross says. “Premature bearing failures occur for many reasons. But before throwing a new solution at the problem it’s imperative there is a precise diagnosis of the root cause of bearing damage.”

To this end, site visits by CBC experts – often accompanied by Timken® engineers – are essential.

“Delivering the best and most cost-effective solutions to our customers is CBC’s top priority,” Ross says. “Our reputation is built on expertise and the trust we engender in our customers. We won’t suggest solutions until we’ve thoroughly evaluated a customer’s bearing problem and consulted with our manufacturing partners, in this case, Timken. When we are satisfied our assessment is accurate, then we can discuss potential solutions.”

“CBC’s practical expertise and integrity are the chief reasons we create and sustain excellent long-term relationships with our customers,” he notes.

Mark Davies, National Mining Manager for Australian Timken, is justifiably proud of Timken® ES302 and the entire range of Timken® Engineered Surface coatings.

“ES302 coating technology is only available from Timken,” Mark says. “Our coatings range is the widest on the market for preventing application related bearing degradation. But our coatings really come into their own once the lubricant starts to age and accumulated contamination, either from the environment or internally within the application, begins to degrade the life of the bearing. If lubricants degrade to such a degree that metal-to-metal contact is occurring, our coatings provide a safeguard against the bearing components wearing and can prolong operating life in these conditions.”

According to Mark, the ES302 coating has undergone extensive testing in the development process to ensure bearing component protection, with potential life increase by a factor of six when compared to uncoated bearings.

“I would underscore what Ross says about technology being only as good as its implementation,” says Mark. “We want to be sure our products are recommended and implemented with the highest possible standards. That’s the reason we work with CBC.”