A food production line consists of many moving parts, each with their own set of complex maintenance requirements. Holding it all together is the backbone of industrial equipment – bearings. With such a vast array of bearing options available on the market, compiling an inventory that is interchangeable and compatible across every corner of the site can be extremely difficult.

Available exclusively through BSC, the Timken range of food-grade SNT Split Plummer Blocks provides an easy, practical solution. Timken is aiming to address bearing requirements across the food processing industry, where needs for customised solutions have been increasing rapidly over recent years. This is largely due to the implementation of strict health and safety protocols to mitigate risks of contamination.

“It’s quite crucial to ensure that when you are dealing with food handling, all the componentry is suitable for that unique environment,” explains Leon Stefanec, Victorian State Sales Manager for Motion Australia. “It is also incredibly important to make sure bearings are housed correctly, and in a consistent way to ensure safety for workers on site.”

Motion Australia has been working alongside Timken to provide a bearing overhaul to one of Australia’s national abattoir companies, offering hands-on support across six meat plants. Within the abattoir, each animal is securely fastened to metal hooks, which are lined along a mobile overhanging chain. This chain is held in place by sprockets, which are in turn secured by the Timken SNT Plummer Blocks.

Each of these sites can process over 1,000 cattle per day, and even short periods of unexpected downtime can eventuate in significant costs. If bearings fail at any point along the production line, it can suspend operations for anywhere up to an hour, so working to prevent that risk is paramount. Not only is the business losing output time, they are also spending wages during periods where nobody can continue work.

An important factor when considering casing on bearings in food contexts is their ability to withstand rigorous cleaning and sanitation schedules typical of the industry. Units must maintain durability when subjected to high-pressure hosing and routine chemical application. Based on Timken’s expertise in food handling parts, this has been accounted for in the design and fabrication of the SNT range.

“I was recently on site at their Melbourne location, discussing supply consolidation through Motion Australia,” says Leon. “Based on the customer’s feedback, the Timken products have been performing extremely well in the harsh environmental conditions of the abattoir, thanks to their structural integrity and protective coatings. Switching over from their previous supply has reduced overall inventory and component costs as well.”

The Timken SNT range is a complete package of split plummer block housing, often used in conjunction with the Timken double row spherical roller bearings. They are available in rugged cast iron, ductile iron, or cast steel designs across a variety of metric shaft sizes.

“The beauty of this package is the interchangeability,” explains Leon. “Usually, these units are made up of several different brands between the housing, bearing and seals. This is obviously challenging from an inventory standpoint, because you run into compatibility issues when things need replacing or swapping out across various/multiple locations. With Timken, however, the part numbering system and the way it comes as a full kit means that identifying and upgrading becomes infinitely easier.”

“The housings are fitted with three inputs,” he elaborates. “So, the customer can select which port to use, making mounting options more versatile. That is quite a unique function that not many other bearing options have. Their durable epoxy coat finish performs extremely well in wet environments, which is crucial for abattoir settings and the intense wash down processes they undergo.” 

Each unit offers the choice of a tapered-bore design or easy mounting, or straight-bore design for better axial location. Conversion between fixed and float states is made possible by adding or removing the locating rings. To prevent contamination in food processing environments, the housing is compatible with elastomer, deflection-type V-ring, precision labyrinth, and heavy-duty taconite seals.

Opting in for Timken replacements is made simple, due to their designs being dimensionally interchangeable with industry standards. This means that if previous fittings were not food-grade, or a different brand, they can be switched out for the SNT range without requiring alterations. They arrive fully assembled, allowing for brief change-over times to minimise pause on operations. 

Motion Australia has a long-standing relationship with Timken as a Diamond Supply Partner across numerous industrial sectors. Mirroring similar values when it comes to above-and-beyond customer service, Motion Australia’s team of technical engineers has intimate knowledge of these bearing products and how they are best implemented.

“Our team carry out regular servicing for this customer,” Leon says. “This is inclusive of preventative maintenance – so vibration analysis on their equipment ensure that the bearings are not slipping where they should not be. We conduct stock audits for them across several hundred-unit numbers, and we are currently talking about installing industrial hose fittings for wash down procedures.”

From an employee perspective, selecting and putting together consignments is made significantly easier due to Timken’s smart numbering system. Overall, this contributes to increased efficiency during the order processing stage, lending more time to meeting customer satisfaction in other areas.

“The workers in store love them,” smiles Leon. “Because when you are dealing with a unit size 520, then the housing, seal and bearing designations will all be labelled under 520 as well. So it is unbelievably easy when they go to select stock from the shelf, because they are guaranteed to all fit together.”

Where the rigorous and demanding conditions of abattoir sites require only the best available in supporting componentry, Timken continues to deliver time and time again. Their deep understanding of customer needs motivates them to continually upgrade servicing frameworks and meticulously engineered product ranges. The fundamentals of effective industrial machinery are grounded in the integrity of each individual bearing, as well as the quality of its housing. Customers in the food handling sectors can trust Timken’s reputation for long-term durability.