Maintenance is an essential requirement in a range of industries where machine availability is key. Rapid and cost-effective changeout of bearings is a critical requirement in preventing downtime and loss of productivity.
Split roller bearings are designed specifically for proactive maintenance requirements. The globally-recognised range of Cooper split roller bearings is distributed locally by Bearings International. Cooper Bearings product manager for Southern Africa Matthew Tyler states that there is an industry-wide trend whereby companies are reducing their maintenance budgets and staff to cut costs.
“The prevailing trend is simply to replace components as and when they break or malfunction. What’s more, the skills shortage facing the South African industry also means there is a need for products that are easy to install, with minimum training requirements. This is where Cooper split roller bearings add measurable value,” he explains.
Tom Black, director of sales for Europe and the Middle East, recently visited South Africa from principal supplier Cooper Kaydon. “We continue to enhance our products through ongoing investment in new machine tools and modern manufacturing techniques. In addition, continuous advances in materials science allows us to produce bearings with higher capacities in accordance with the changing requirements of the market.”
Black stresses that Cooper is a global leader in split roller bearings. “Our estimate of our share of the global split roller bearing market is about 85%. Thus we are the world leader by a considerable margin, and certainly in Africa we have the largest installed base of split roller bearings of any other manufacturer.”
The main advantage of Cooper split roller bearings is that they are split right to the shaft. “The reason for this is to allow the bearing to be changed out when the life of the bearing is achieved; this can be done much more easily than a solid bearing,” Black asserts. “This means that the machinery in question is back up and running extremely quickly.”
Another advantage over solid bearings is that Cooper split roller bearings can be removed without dismantling any ancillary equipment. “The bearing can be opened up, taken out and replaced to ensure that machinery is up-and-running quickly,” says Tyler.
The traditional solid-type bearing, on the other hand, typically requires that a gearbox be uncoupled and the coupling removed. Depending on the size of the bearing, such a change out could take days, as opposed to a few hours for a Cooper split roller bearing.
“From a maintenance point of view, downtime is critical in a manufacturing environment. Major industries can stand to lose millions of rands due to machine shutdowns. Cooper Bearings is an ideal solutions provider for such total maintenance requirements,” Tyler asserts.
Cooper split roller bearings can even be replaced onsite by any fitter with experience in an industrial environment. “We give our customers the assurance that when their plant goes down, they will recoup a significant quantity of that lost production in terms of reduced maintenance time. Industries ranging from cement to marine, food and beverage, mining, sugar, pulp and paper and materials handling can all benefit from the Cooper split roller bearings range,” Tyler continues.
Every Cooper split roller bearing is supplied with a handy step-by-step installation guide for ease of use. The bearings are made from carbon chrome steel for added robustness, with the outer housings and cartridges made from cast iron. Bearings International carries local stock of up to 300 mm to cater for the bulk of shaft applications, and can customise products for specific applications. Existing installations can be converted to Cooper split roller bearings by means of minimal modifications.
The products are manufactured in the UK according to strict quality and manufacturing standards. A feature that makes Cooper split roller bearings suited for the harsh operating conditions in Africa is the sealing arrangement. “The seal is contained in the outer swivel cartridge. This means that, in the event of any shaft misalignment, the seal remains concentric to the shaft itself,” adds Tyler.
In a traditional solid bearing, the seal is contained in a static housing, which causes a gap in the event of any shaft misalignment. This gap allows the ingress of contaminants such as dust, dirt or water, which is a major cause of bearing failure. The sealing arrangement and split nature of the roller bearing is what gives Cooper its extended lifespan, even under the harshest operating conditions.
Tyler observes that we usually design for a L10 life of 100 000 hours, which equates to 12 years’ continuous operation on a 24/7 basis. “This is where Cooper really outshines the competition, as its products are easy to maintain and inspect, due to the fact that the lubrication enters the bearing directly, as opposed to the cavity alongside the bearing. Cooper pioneered the split roller bearing in 1907, and has continued to advance the technology ever since,” he concludes.