Australian mining has seen tremendous growth this year, with the price of iron ore reaching record levels, and a significant increase in demand on production operations, highlights BSC’s Tony Tormey.
“Mines have been challenged to keep up with demands at an all-time high,” says the BSC Product Manager for Industrial Bearings. “And one of the biggest challenges for us at BSC has been keeping mines up and running while achieving optimal performance on all of their equipment.”
“In that same vein, mine site operators have been exceeding their expectations in terms of historic bearing demands and sacrificing bearings on critical pieces of equipment, for more production,” he continues, “This would not typically be considered good practice, but does open the door for BSC and Timken to seek ways to prolong the lifespan of equipment and reduce the Total Cost of Ownership.”
In tandem with an increase in production demands, BSC has seen a jumpstart in innovation from suppliers and manufacturers behind the bearings and bearing components that go into the equipment on mine sites.
“Bearings are an integral part of our business offering, so we are constantly striving to stay on top of the latest maintenance trends and bearing technology as they become available to the market,” says Tony.
“I think we have had a lot of success in accommodating recent challenges, and part of our success can be attributed to working with premium bearing suppliers like Australian Timken. BSC and Timken have been partnering for 70 plus years to offer bearing solutions for mining applications.”
Significantly, the Timken Spherical Roller Bearings (SRB) offer a range of solutions for rotating mining equipment, with the bearing housing, sleeve and sealing components available in a single brand solution to the customer.
“Timken SRBs have some of the highest load and speed ratings when compared to other SRBs on the market,” says Tony. “They are available with steel and brass cage designs, with Timken’s total steel cage range hardened to produce a more resilient bearing. They were designed and built to handle tougher applications in heavy industries like mining, with advanced technical features that lead to a longer service life.”
One of the more recent innovations for the Timken Spherical Roller Bearing range is the capacity to add “Engineered Surface Technology” to the bearings.
National Mining Manager for Australian Timken, Mark Davies, discusses how engineered surface technology is changing the bearing landscape and how Timken is supporting the mining market by advancing this surface treatment technology.
“The demand right now for bearings is very high with OEMs and at the after-market customer level,” says Mark. “End users of our bearing products have been pushing for more life from their equipment. They want to increase their uptime as much as possible and extend the life of their bearings.”
Designed for harsh conditions, the bearing surface technology used in making Timken’s ES302 Spherical Roller Bearings assists in extending the bearing life.
“The ES302 Spherical Roller Bearings use Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) technology, which is a thin coat of engineered ceramic and a polymer over the finished surface of the rollers,” explains Mark.
“PVD bearings really come into their own on rolling applications when the lubrication starts to age and with the presence of contamination particles, the rolling surfaces of the bearing can have metal to metal contact. When this occurs the ES302 surface treatment works as a dissimilar metal, protecting the raceway and minimising smearing of the race material. ES302 bearings can extend operating life due to their greater resilience compared to a standard bearing due to its protective coating.”
According to Mark, the ES302 Spherical Roller Bearings have been specifically designed for applications where conditions would not normally be ideal for an extended bearing life, in particular on both fixed and mobile mining equipment.
“The PVD bearings are best for applications where contamination and lubrication damage has been observed in a previous failure inspection” explains Mark, noting as a matter of interest that outside of the mining industry they are also being used in the construction of renewable energy wind turbines as an industry solution to a known SRB damage mode from excessive thrust loading, which speaks to the capacity of the bearing and effectiveness of the ES302 coatings capacity.
Tony and the rest of the team at BSC are well versed in the range of Timken SRB solutions being offered to heavy industry, and according to Tony, they keep a good amount of stock ready across their network of distribution channels to better assist in solving equipment issues in a timely manner.
Additionally, Timken engineers work actively with BSC to do joint site calls together, which allows BSC to better facilitate the appropriate training on correct bearing sealing and fitting practices for Timken SRB products.
“The quality of Timken SRB products has certainly given us an edge when assisting customers in contending with the current extraordinary levels of demand on their production facilities,” enthuses Tony.
“The better quality the bearing on a piece of equipment, the longer the bearing maintenance interval, and the greater the ability to extend the life and performance of a piece of equipment,” he concludes.