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The Cost of Procrastination: How Contact Bearings Cost Your Business

The Cost of Procrastination: How Contact Bearings Cost Your Business

Man standing on top of a wind turbine.At New Way Air Bearings®, we’re always committed to identifying ways in which air bearings can improve processes and industries. But, too often we hear from our clients once they’ve already learned this lesson the hard way. Contact systems fail, and the cost of procrastination becomes very real and very expensive. We’d like to take this opportunity to show how air bearings are the cost-effective solution for any industry, and how upgrading your systems sooner than later will serve you well in the long run.

Because air bearings are a thoroughly noncontact technology, there is no wear and tear, and thus, no need to ever replace them. Contrast this with virtually any industry where roller bearing or ball bearing replacement costs are effectively baked into your overhead. And, then, the argument for long-lasting infrastructure becomes much more persuasive. Consider these case studies on industries that contend with bearing replacement as a necessary cost of doing business, and how many headaches they—and you—might avoid by the switch to Frictionless Motion.

Three Case Studies in How Air Bearings Can Save You Money

Mining

Any type of mining operation—whether it’s underground or open-pit—will involve massive quantities of rock, minerals, and other materials becoming aerosolized into the environment. This kind of small particulation can easily infiltrate the rolling bearing races.

Conveyor belt in motion carrying raw materials from a mine.The most typical solution for bearing failure is to switch to sealed bearings. SKF® is proud to advertise that the switch to sealed bearings can save you up to 10 tonnes of grease per year, but even this “efficiency” is still costly, especially when we consider the fundamentally dynamic nature of roller bearing elements. Grease does not prevent degradation; it merely forestalls it. And, when a conveyor belt goes down, your losses can be upwards of $10,000 per hour, according to the Engineering and Mining Journal. Another group, NKE Bearings, developed deep groove bearings specifically to resist particle infiltration and thermal degradation. But, these are—once again—only a stopgap towards ultimate bearing failure.

For applications like this, operators require a product that can withstand external contaminants as well as high rotational speeds. In situations like this, upgrading to systems built on New Way Radial Air Bearings or our revolutionary New-Seal™ saves both time and money. The New-Seal provides rotational motion and sealing all in one, resisting infiltration up to 30psi and allowing for smooth motion.

Energy Production

The energy production sector, whether it’s gas or renewables, exemplifies the phrase “time is money.” For systems built on dynamo-based power generation, for example, bearing failure can be catastrophic. For wind turbines, where repairs are not just costly but difficult to fulfill, numerous avenues of research are being carried out to identify better designs for bearing systems. As it stands, a failed main shaft bearing can cost almost a half-million dollars to replace, not to mention the revenue lost to turbine downtime.

New Way Air Bearings has developed a wide range of products uniquely suited to supporting rotating shaft-based applications for power generation. Our air bearings have already been identified as the next evolution in bearing technology for turbomachinery, thanks to their incredible damping, stiffness at low fly heights, and modular nature capable of supporting large systems.

Semiconductor Manufacturing

Silicon wafers being attached to a die.Manufacturing semiconductor wafers and other microchip-type products rely on incredible precision, repeatability, and maintaining cleanroom conditions. The very usage of contact bearings themselves poses a danger to your environment, as specialty lubricants can outgas. And, even the most advanced ceramic bearings still pose the risk of low, but still present particle generation.

NSK tells the story of how they assisted a semiconductor manufacturing customer by providing deep groove ball bearings for a band saw used to cut silicon wafers, and they “succeeded” by reducing their bearing replacement from 384 down to 192. While some might consider this a success—that their newer bearings were more resilient to silicon particles entering the bearing race—192 failures feels like 192 too many to us.

Due to the externally pressurized porous nature of our products, New Way Air Bearings are self-cleaning. Furthermore, as a result of the microperforated structure of our porous carbon, New Way Air Bearings act as a micron-level air filter, producing virtually no particles of their own. We’ve shown air bearings to be ISO Class 3, and even ISO Class 1 compliant, making them the perfect foundation for retrofitting motion systems in cleanroom environments.

Contact Us

You’ve heard the stories and seen the numbers, so if air bearings sound like the right fit to cut costs and boost productivity, don’t procrastinate! Reach out to us at New Way Air Bearings today, so we can discuss what frictionless motion can do for you!

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation