The combination of NSK’s experience of providing solutions to the global steel industry, and the company’s industry-wide cost saving program, is providing savings of €372.558 per annum in reduced maintenance costs on a annealing process line accumulator sheave at a major steelworks in the United Kingdom.

The continuous annealing process line was experiencing unplanned downtime of around 17 hours per year, on average, at a cost of €21.915 per hour, or €372.558 per annum. The stoppages also meant that heavy lifting gear had to be hired, and additional maintenance personnel employed for the duration of the downtime periods.

NSK has worked with leading global steel makers to develop a package of high-performance bearings that address downtime problems in all areas of steelmaking. This experience was decisive in the company being asked to visit the steelworks, determine the problem on the annealing process line accumulator sheave, and then come up with a solution.

After analyzing failed bearings on the annealing process line, NSK redesigned the assembly to accommodate a more robust bearing arrangement using crane sheave bearings. As the name implies, crane sheave bearings are usually employed in crane sheaves, in quarries, ports and building sites. However, the high load capacity and advanced levels of sealing provided by these bearings means that they also ideal for applications in the demanding conditions prevailing in steel making environments.

An initial trial of the crane sheave bearings was undertaken on the annealing process line to determine the effectiveness of NSK’s solution. The new bearings performed successfully providing a maintenance-free operating life which was over 3-times longer than that of the original bearings. On the basis of this performance, NSK has calculated an operating life of at least five years for the bearings.

“We knew from previous steel industry experience that crane sheave bearings would deliver the optimum solution in this application,” said an NSK spokesman. “They are essentially full complement cylindrical roller bearings offering an advanced sealing system that minimizes grease leakage and increases resistance to the entry of water and other foreign substances. Their ability to provide reliable life in arduous environments is enhanced by machined holes, which are provided on the inner and outer rings of the bearings to allow grease replenishment, even while the bearing is in place. In addition, the bearings are supplied with phosphate surface treatment to improve their resistance to corrosion.”