Demand for agricultural produce continues to soar and it’s never been more critical for farmers to ensure their equipment will perform well during harvest season.

Whether it’s a header, large combine harvester, tractor or AirSeeder, bearings are an integral component of agricultural machinery. With equipment facing such heavy demand, harvester bearings must be able to withstand the conditions encountered in Australian farming including high temperatures, rain, humidity, dust, fertiliser chemicals and crop residue. 

If an essential bearing fails during harvest and an entire machine is out of action, the resulting downtime can be disastrous to crop yield. Which is why NTN has designed specific ball bearings for agricultural applications – the Black Bearing range – exclusively available nationwide through Motion Australia.

The Black Bearings take their name from the black oxide treatment they receive during the production process to increase their corrosion resistance. According to Motion Australia’s Tony Tormey, Category Manager for Industrial Bearings, this black coating increases the part’s performance and service life.

“The NTN Black Bearings are ideally suited for use in harvesting equipment as well as any other agricultural machinery. The black oxide coating covers all the bearing surfaces, including the inner and outer rings, which offers excellent corrosion and fretting resistance,” explains Tony. “This helps avoid the common issue of seizure from corrosion that farmers often face, and the bearings will give a better performance than the standard alternatives on their harvesting equipment.” 

To contend with the contamination that comes with agricultural environments, the NTN Black Series comes with enhanced ‘Trash guard’ seals. 

“The NTN Trash guard seals are uniquely designed with a heavy-duty rubber lip bonded to the seal plate” Tony says. “These exceed the capabilities of the standard seals for this category of insert bearing, repelling dirt and fibrous materials that would be in proximity to harvesting machines.” 

Additionally, a durability benefit of the bearings is their extended lubrication. They are supplied with a premium SRS2000 semi-synthetic long life grease factory filled at 70 per cent greater than the normal fill amount of lubrication. 

“When testing the bearings at the NTN facility in Japan for dust-proofing, the NTN engineering team found that the bearing’s life could be further enhanced by increasing the fill rate of the grease,” explains Tony. “This provides excellent water resistance and protection from contaminants, increased the longevity of the bearings.”

With uptime in mind, he recommends that farmers or OEMs consider upgrading conventional ball bearings on harvesting equipment to the NTN Black Bearing series. 

“While they are more expensive than the equivalent standard bearings in the market, these are top shelf products and the longer-term result – extended uptime during peak harvest seasons – will justify that extra cost as an initial investment,” he says. 

Importantly, an upgrade is easy as the Black Bearing can replace conventional ball bearing inserts without any modifications to harvester equipment. 

“This feature is particularly attractive for OEMs looking to retrofit their existing machinery with a superior bearing option,” adds Tony. “Also due to the Joint Venture between Motion Australia brand NTN and CBC, customers not only have exclusive access to these products, but our engineering services as well. Our field engineers are supported by the NTN global engineering team.”

To summarise, Tony says Motion Australia receives “great feedback” from the agricultural sector as to the performance of the NTN Black Bearings.  

“The feedback we have received from our customers is that they are happy to pay the extra cost in exchange for the peace of mind that they get by having a reliable bearing in their harvesting machine. Timing is of essence for harvesting and so making sure that the equipment is ready to go when it’s needed most is the biggest benefit that we can provide.”