NSK’s Asset Improvement Program has produced savings of $16,900 (£11,700) in replacement bearing costs for a United Kingdom processor of fresh fish. The savings have been achieved by replacing the existing bearing inserts on fish processing lines with NSK’s Silver-Lube series bearings. These are designed specifically for use in industries where hygiene considerations and corrosion and chemical resistance are important.

The bearing problem on the fish processing line centered on a conveyor which was subject to frequent washdowns – at least two per day. These were damaging the conveyor bearings through the ingress of water and contaminants. As a result, failures were being experienced every six months, resulting in lost production and increased maintenance expenditure. In total, 60 bearings were failing over a six-month period, each costing $188. Moreover, this figure was amplified by the cost of two fitters to replace the bearings; the replacement operation for each bearing taking three hours at a cost of $43.37 per hour. What this meant for the fish processor, in cost terms, was an expenditure of $26,900 every year on bearing replacement.

Clearly, this cost was unsustainable. So, an initiative was launched with a view to sourcing higher-performance bearings. As part of this initiative, engineers from NSK’s Asset Improvement Program (AIP) were called in to give advice. AIP is designed for end-user bearing customers that are looking for more than just product supply. Rather, they are looking for a value-added service that actually helps them to improve reliability, reduce operating costs, and improve efficiency and profitability. These objectives are achieved by delivering tangible savings to assets, such as equipment and machinery, and also by improving the working knowledge of maintenance and engineering personnel.   

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The NSK engineers quickly identified the problem and suggested a solution using the Silver-Lube series of bearings. These provide an effective application solution where hygiene considerations are important, or where replacement and maintenance costs need to be minimized within hostile corrosive environments.
The Silver-Lube bearings were installed and trials conducted over a six-month period. At the end of this period, the NSK bearings were still performing “as new” – performance that has resulted in Silver-Lube replacing all the existing bearings on the conveyor line.

To- date, 12 months after the first Silver-Lube bearing was installed, none of the units has failed. However, working upon a factor of at least twice the life for the Silver-Lube bearings, compared to the previous units, the fish processor has calculated total savings in bearing replacement costs of $16,900 per annum. This figure assumes the cost for the Silver-Lube units – including installation – is approximately $1,000 per year, which compares favorably with the previous yearly cost for bearing replacement of $26,900.