Frequent equipment washdowns in food production are essential to achieving high standards of sterility. However, it is widely known that greased bearings and high-pressure washdowns have a problematic relationship – the constant cleaning washes away bearing lubrication and chemicals can be tough on the bearings themselves, causing early wear. 

This was the case with an Australian fresh food producer who was experiencing premature bearing failure with conventional bearings. When a Motion Australia branch suggested they trial NSK Molded-Oil™ bearings to counteract the washout of lubricant, the problem was swiftly resolved – within a year they had already saved thousands of dollars.

“The stainless-steel UC bearings that they were using on one of their critical pieces of equipment – the Trim Line 2 Slicer outfeed belt – had a service life of three to four months,” explains Daniel Iselin, Technical Representative for Motion Australia, Wacol branch. “This was due to the bearings operating in a wet and abrasive environment.”

The Motion Australia team recommended NSK Molded-Oil™ UC206 bearings. These were installed and successfully lasted over a year without requiring replacement. 

“In fact, the only reason the bearings were changed was due to an upgrade of a new conveyor belt which gave the maintenance team the opportunity to replace the bearings and inspect them for signs of wear,” says Daniel. “There were no signs of wear in the bearings, but they were changed regardless as the opportunity presented itself.”

Daniel contends the NSK Molded-Oil™ bearings would ordinarily last at least two years. Nonetheless, calculations at the site showed a cost savings of $3,100 from the 12-month period. 

“A signed off cost saving was produced by Motion Australia and the customer acknowledged the vast increase in uptime, reduction in maintenance days and reduced cost of replacement bearings,” he adds. “Such was the success that the news spread fast and now NSK Molded-Oil™ bearings are used by this customer’s four production facilities around Australia in many different applications.”

According to Daniel, the customer is a family-owned produce company that expanded from being a grower to that of a national supplier of packaged vegetables and salads. They have four large processing plants located in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and country Victoria and source fresh products from their own farm and growers in surrounding areas. 

“As each of their sites are food production facilities, each site is subject to constant temperatures of three degrees and a rigorous daily cleaning regime,” explains Daniel. “The cleaning process is very thorough and includes several washdowns during the day as well as a three-stage chemical wash down routine each night.”

Why did the Motion Australia team recommend the NSK Molded-Oil™ bearings for a trial? 

“The NSK Molded-Oil™ bearings have a demonstrated history of performance in environments subject to a lot of water,” says Daniel. “These bearings are impregnated with oil and are designed with seals that prevent water from getting inside. We knew that the trial would prove them effective in this particular application.”

The NSK Molded-Oil™ comprises lubricating oil and polyolefin resin that has an affinity for oil. The environmentally friendly oil slowly releases from the material, providing ample lubrication to the bearing for extended periods. This eliminates the significant issues that washdowns can create, leading to longer production times between maintenance procedures and fewer bearing failures. 

As a national supplier of industrial solutions with a long history in providing quality bearings, Motion Australia has shared a strong partnership with NSK that goes back over 50 years. The two companies often collaborate to deliver optimal solutions with customers, that can include site audits and training. 

Leon Stefanec, National Business Development Manager for Food & Beverage, says this partnership translates to customer benefits.  

“The Motion Australia sales and technical representatives all have very good fundamental and practical knowledge of bearings and power transmission systems for food and beverage applications. Combining this expertise with the support we get from a global brand like NSK helps us respond to our customers’ needs efficiently,” he concludes.