Without question, mining is a dirty job. Raw product is caked with enough dirt to give a mud wrestler a run for their money. Mining requires heavy drilling, excavating, and crushing equipment to extract the raw product from the earth before transferring it by way of pump systems, pipelines, and conveyors for processing. The thick air, high-heat, humidity, moisture, dust and contaminants make the process arduous for mining equipment.

These harsh conditions are notoriously punishing on bearings, keeping miners and maintenance workers on their toes racing to install bearings solutions that will survive production and prevent downtime. A failed bearing can hold up operations for days while the arrangement is disassembled, and a new bearing is installed. Furthermore, replacing bearings on a piece of mining equipment can incur significant maintenance costs to mining companies. 

Capable bearing models that can truly demonstrate resilience against the demand conditions of mining environments are few and far between, but they certainly exist. 

Fortunately, the team at Motion Australia have done the legwork through testing and analysis to get a handle on the strongest bearings solutions for mining applications. And time and time again, the Timken® Solid-Block housed units have proven they are up to the challenge. 

The Timken® Solid-Block preassembled units consist of spherical bearing with two rows of roller balls and a black oxidised inner ring, that are fitted in an impenetrable cast steel housing at the factory. According to Sinisa Petkovic, Key Account Executive and resident engineering expert at Motion Australia, having the internal clearance of the bearing pre-set is more than half the battle for fitting and installation. 

“Conventional bearings require fitters to drive the bearing up the shaft and measuring internal clearance with the housing to ensure it is to spec,” says Sinisa. “Then there’s a process of tightening and loosening the bearing to test it, followed by the addition of seals to protect against the ingress of mining product, dirt, and moisture that degrade the bearing.”

The fact the Timken® Solid-Block bearings, seals, and casing are all unitised in one product and arrive on-site assembled means that fitters simply just have to install the block onto the shaft. 

Says Sinisa, “Installing the units takes a fraction of the time a conventional bearing takes to install, as in, literally minutes. You can imagine the implication of this for mining companies in terms of saving on labour costs and downtime on production. It’s tremendous. They save tens of thousands of dollars with this product and lower the total cost of ownership on equipment.” 

To make things even easier for mining operators, both Timken and Motion Australia have developed comprehensive training offerings for their customers. The training is delivered directly to site for the engineers, maintenance and repair workers who want to learn how to install the Timken® Solid-Block units. 

General Manager for Regional Sales at Australian Timken Sean Young has played an important role in developing and implementing the Solid-Block technical training.

“Our engineering team works with Motion Australia to offer training to a larger customer base, and we have a really strong partnership that is doubled in strength when we combine our technical capabilities and expertise,” says Sean. “This is made easier for both parties when we are representing a product we can really stand behind. The Timken® Solid-Block units really are a best in class bearing for the mining industry. In addition to reduced maintenance costs, the Timken units also offer a longer service life for mining applications due to the solid protection they offer against build-up of dirt and debris.”

When it comes to troubleshooting bearing issues, Sean refers to “C.L.I disease” as the core concept he tries to convey in his training session’s –, which stands for contamination, lubrication, and installation. 

“Adequate protection for bearings through housings and seals is critical for preventing contamination, and since the Solid-Block units are out of the box this covers this issue,” he says. “The housing unit bolts onto the shaft and locks in place. The entire installation process takes on average less than 90 minutes to complete.”

According to Sean, many bearings suffer from either under or over lubrication, which cooks the unit. 

“The Timken® Solid-Block units have an opening for measuring lubrication so maintenance workers can simply add grease and the unit will allow for only what it requires and expel the rest,” he says. “Ensuring the bearings are sufficiently lubricated will prevent wear, corrosion and contamination ingress. And ultimately improve the service life of the bearing, which is the goal for all parties in the equation – optimal bearing performance and extended life,” he concludes.