Ever since Dr. Georg Schaeffler first invented caged needle roller bearings over 70 years ago, the bearings have found extensive applications in a range of industries. While commonly used for power transmission in the automotive industry, needle roller bearings are also used extensively in the building material manufacturing sector; including for manufacturing power tools, machine tools and even door closers.
Prior to Dr. Schaeffler’s innovation, needle roller bearings were only available in the full-complement design, which posed limitations in high-speed applications. Capturing the needle rollers in a cage allowed them to reach higher speeds than had been possible before.
Schaeffler, along with his brother Wilhelm founded Industrie Nadellager (INA), and the company has grown rapidly over the decades, today forming one of the key businesses under the umbrella of the Schaeffler Group. In Australia, CBC has been the exclusive distributor of INA products since 1962.
Tony Tormey, CBC’s Product Manager for Industrial Bearings, says while the INA products have always been associated with high reliability and performance, the X-life™ seal means the bearings are now designed with higher static and dynamic load capacities.
“When products become part of the X-life™ product portfolio, it means Schaeffler has implemented changes to the design, heat-treatment process and manufacturing techniques to improve the load ratings of the bearings. Bearings that are sealed as X-life™can tolerate higher static and dynamic loads compared to their equivalent non- X-life™ bearings. Under constant loads, this higher capacity means the bearings can last longer,” he explains.
Andreas Pieper, Group Engineering Manager at Schaeffler Australia, says the INA needle roller bearings are used extensively in manufacturing building materials.
“The high-precision ground inner and outer ring INA needle roller bearings are commonly used in high-speed applications that need to generate low noise, such as in machine tools. At the lower end of precision are the Shell Type INA needle roller bearings, which are commonly used in power tools as well as in door closers,” he says.
“While most needle roller bearings are pure radial bearings, we also offer combined axial-radial bearings which are popular in multi-spindle drilling machines,” he adds.
Also included in the Schaeffler X-life™ portfolio are the INA track rollers. Andreas says there are two unique design features in the INA track rollers that lead to longer life and reduced operating costs.
“The first feature, which is unique to the INA track rollers, is the larger crowning radius on the outer diameter. This results in lower contact pressure with the track, so that both the roller and the track last longer,” he explains.
“The second unique feature is the larger grease reservoir in certain INA track rollers; including the PWTR and PWKR models. This helps extend the bearing life for track rollers that are not re-lubricated.”
Cam followers are another product family in the Schaeffler X-life™ series that are commonly used in design of machine tools for the construction and building industry.
Tony says the Schaeffler cam followers feature up to 30% higher load capacity because of the high strength material used for the design of the outer ring. “The Corrotect® coating offered by Schaeffler also increases the corrosion protection,” he says.
Andreas says the CBC and Schaeffler engineering teams work closely to provide customers with information on bearing selection, as well as to determine the best track specifications for the cam followers.
“As cam followers run on tracks, if the track material lacks sufficient hardness or surface quality, the track won’t last long. Schaeffler and CBC have the engineering knowledge to support the customer by specifying tracks that make their machines last longer.”
The partnership also benefits customers by providing ready access to parts and spare parts, Andreas says.
“Stock holding has always been the strength of CBC. With their extensive branch network across Australia, they bring INA products close to customers. This is supported by Schaeffler’s global supply chain, which allows us to source the parts from our plants worldwide,” he says.