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Gothenburg, Sweden, 28 September 2016: SKF’s industry leading lubrication technology and system engineering support is being used to help ensure optimal operational performance on the world's first next generation bioproduct mill. The groundbreaking mill, which is being built by Metsä Fibre, part of Metsä Group, in the Finnish town of Äänekoski, will use 100 per cent of the raw materials and run solely on renewable energy.

The new mill is the largest ever single investment in the nation’s forest industry at approximately €1.2 billion and it is a major step forward in the development of sustainable production processes as it will produce significantly more electricity than it will need. It is expected to process 6.5 million cubic metres of wood into 1.3 million tonnes of pulp, with the remaining biomass and side streams being used to make high value bioproducts, including tall oil, turpentine, bioelectricity, process steam, district heat and wood fuel.

SKF was selected to supply lubrication systems – mainly dual-line grease lubrication devices – for about 3,000 lubrication points on the bioproduct mill. It is also providing specially developed, new generation lubrication control centres with mobile access to ensure maximum efficiency and reliability when the mill goes into operation in the third quarter of 2017.

Ossi Puromäki, Project Services Director at Metsä Fibre, said: “The new bioproduct mill is a step towards a world that is no longer dependent on fossil resources. Thanks to innovative technologies and support from trusted partners like SKF, we have been able to realise that ambition and satisfy the growing global demand for softwood pulp through sustainable means.”

Erkki Kemppainen, OEM Sales Manager at SKF’s Lubrication Business Unit, said: “Building on a relationship that already spans decades, we are proud to see our proven lubrication technologies in this state-of-the-art bioproduct mill that is transforming the face of the pulp, paper and wood production industry. Getting involved early in the process has allowed us to deliver a high performance, user friendly system that will support the mill as it manufactures products and produces energy.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 28, 2016, 12:00 pm
Fluid power systems are only as good as their seals. Hydraulic cylinders have long been the standard approach for motion applications that require high power density and reliable service in tough operating conditions, such as the construction mining, agriculture and forestry sectors. But the successful operation of hydraulic machinery relies on its ability to permit motion while containing the oil within the components of the system.

Seal failures have a lot of undesirable consequences, including increased operating and maintenance costs, lost productivity due to unplanned downtime, environmental pollution and safety risks for personnel. Moreover, these systems ask a lot of their seals. Their basic job is hard enough: containing oil at pressures of up to 400 bar (5,800psi) and sometimes higher as well as temperatures that may exceed 110 °C (230 °F). And the task is furthermore combined with the challenges of the working environment, which can include dust and chemical contamination and loads that can distort components, creating gaps that are hard to keep sealed.

The rod seal is a frontline soldier in the battle to keep hydraulic equipment running properly (image 1). These seals face some of the toughest demands in any part of the system, thanks to their location – often right at the working end of equipment, where they are most likely to experience side loads – and the role they have to perform, which involves allowing the rod to move in and out with minimum friction while keeping the oil inside the cylinder.

When SKF set out to design a new rod seal as part of its comprehensive range of sealing solutions for fluid power applications, the company’s engineers knew that creating a best-in-class product would require an intensive R&D and testing effort.

That effort began with the choice of material. “Polyurethanes are used in many thousands of engineering applications, but seals make up just a tiny percentage of that total,” explains Wolfgang Swete, Head of Fluid System Seals Product Line Development at SKF. “That means that standard compositions from materials suppliers don’t necessarily have the right balance of performance characteristics for that role.”

Rather than settling for an off-the-shelf option that might compromise performance, SKF was able to make use of its own tailor-made material. The company’s ECOPUR polyurethane was developed specifically as a premium grade material for sealing applications. Decades of experience in other products have shown it to have the right combination of strength and flexibility to offer superior sealing performance, and the abrasion-resistance and durability ensure a long operating life.

The material characteristics were also important in permitting SKF to define an optimum geometry for the new seal. Single lip seals such as the SKF S1S actually have several working parts, and they operate and interact in subtle ways. “While the primary purpose of any seal is stop leaks, a rod seal actually has to release a small amount of oil through the sealing edge,” says Swete. “This oil creates a lubricating film less than 1µm thick that allows the rod to move smoothly.” Precise control of that lubricant film affects the performance of the cylinder, and the life of the seal (image 2). SKF used advanced finite element analysis, combined with its extensive knowledge of lubrication technology to understand how best to control the lubricant film. The investigation revealed that a smaller radius at the lip of the seal produced a thinner film, allowing smooth performance without excessive loss of fluid. But without a suitably hardwearing material, such a small radius would lead to compromise the durability of the seal.

It isn’t just the lip of the seal that affects the lubricant film, Swete explains. “As the rod retracts into the cylinder, the rear heel of the seal controls the back-pumping effect, drawing lubricant back inside. By optimising the shape of the seal here to maximise that effect, we reduce the overall loss of fluid and maintain lubrication performance.”

The U-cup groove in the front of the seal permits the sealing edge to move relative to the cylinder, accommodating surface imperfections or distortion during operation. The size and shape of this groove also affects the friction characteristics of the seal against the moving rod. Improperly designed seals can exhibit stick-slip phenomena, leading to erratic motion and noise. Worse, SKF’s analysis showed that excessive stress in the contact area would significantly affect the service life of the seal. It took repeated cycles of design, FEA and prototype testing to achieve a groove geometry that delivered the right balance of friction and sealing performance.

“In a development process like this, you will always need a combination of simulation and testing,” explains Swete. “With the right FEA techniques and a proper material model, you can reduce the amount of physical testing you need to do, but you will never eliminate that requirement altogether.” In practice, he says, simulation and physical testing support each other, with the results of tests allowing engineers to refine and improve their modelling techniques.

During the development of the S1S, SKF put its seals through an extremely demanding test regime, with prototypes travelling up and down for hundreds of kilometres on a specially manufactured test rig containing 110 °C (230 °F) oil at pressures of up to 315 bar. The rig measured friction force and leakage during the tests and after every test each seal was carefully measured to see how much it had deformed. “Unlike bearings, there is no formula you can use to predict the lifetime of a seal,” explains Swete. “But we know that the amount of set and distortion a seal experiences is an important indicator of long term performance.” Pleasingly for Swete and his team, the S1S achieved best-in-class performance across all three measures in comparative tests against premium seals from other manufacturers (image 3).

Manufacturing matters too. The seal edges and U-cup groove need to be accurately made to perform as designed while the rod is in motion, and the seal’s ability to contain pressure while static depends on a precise interference fit between the outer edges of the seal and the groove in the cylinder into which it is installed. Here SKF could take advantage of its advanced in-house manufacturing capabilities. These allow it to produce polyurethane components to extremely tight tolerances using a variety of processes, from machining for prototypes and low volume production to moulding for higher volumes and standard parts.

The SKF S1S hydraulic rod seal is now in production in a wide range of standard sizes with outside diameters from 18 to 240 mm. More sizes are being added to the range all the time. For customers with unusual needs, the company can also offer machined versions of the seal in special sizes, while the same advanced manufacturing capabilities permit a seamless transfer to moulded production where volumes permit.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 28, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 28 September: SKF will exhibit at ADIPEC 2016 to showcase its comprehensive range of efficiency and reliability enhancing technologies for applications in the oil and gas industry. From proven bearings and seals for top drives to sophisticated maintenance innovations, SKF’s range of products and services has been specifically designed to dramatically improve the performance and availability of vital equipment across the sector.

Among the technologies on show will be SKF’s tapered roller thrust bearings (TRTB), which feature an optimised internal geometry and provide low friction operation to boost the reliability and service life of top drive systems. Other bearings on display include SKF’s magnetic bearings, which rotate without friction to significantly extend service intervals and cut maintenance costs. These contact-free bearings can be actively monitored by an integrated control system for exceptional precision and stability even at extreme speeds.

Furthermore, SKF will use ADIPEC 2016 to present its innovative wellhead seals that have been specially designed for simple installation. The Locking T-seal – a patented product, unique to SKF – features a backup ring that mechanically locks in place to enable easier, damage-free installation. These seals have the ability to handle higher pressures and temperatures and reduced damage to metal components.

Also on show will be SKF’s solution for increasing the reliability and safety of jack-up gearboxes. This combination of CARB torodial roller bearings, SKF Explorer Spherical Roller Bearings, high performance seals and automatic lubrication systems ensures optimum operation even in the most challenging offshore environments. For example, the CARB bearings enable improved gear to gear contact during severe load conditions, while the lubrication technology precisely delivers the exact quantity of grease to save costs and eliminate downtime.

In addition, SKF will demonstrate the one-box kit version of its proven Vibracon technology at the exhibition. Developed for quick, accurate and clean alignment and chocking, each complete kit contains all the components needed for one resilient mount, including SKF Vibracon chocks, an adaptor plate, SKF spherical washers, an adjustment tool, foundation bolts, nuts, jack bolts and locking bolts. It also allows for alterations and height adjustment during the installation process for optimal application support.

Meanwhile, visitors to the oil and gas trade fair will be able to see a demonstration of SKF’s IMx-M condition monitoring system. The API670-compliant technology monitors critical and high speed rotating equipment and, when used in conjunction with the SKF @ptitude Monitoring Suite software, allows end users to reduce downtime, while boosting the availability of assets through early fault detection and diagnosis.

See SKF at ADIPEC 2016 on stand 12330.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 28, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 27 September 2016: The SKF HBU3 units selected for the FCA’s recently launched Alfa Romeo Giulia offer a range of compelling advantages over conventional wheel bearing designs. These include faster, more straightforward assembly and a longer service life. Bearing preload is set during the manufacture of the units, minimizing play and guaranteeing exceptionally low levels of noise and vibration.

Beyond improved reliability, drivers will benefit from improved ride and handling, especially in corners, thanks to the high stiffness imparted by SKF’s X-tracker raceway geometry.

Stephane Le Mounier, President, SKF Automotive Market, says, “FCA is a strategic partner for SKF and we are proud to be a supplier for their new Giorgio platform, to which Fiat now will launch a series of car models. The SKF wheel bearings have been designed to support the offered driving pleasure with the new Giulia. Our long and close cooperation has a strong foundation to where we build value together for the car owners. We do it with a focus to reduce friction and weight for minimizing the impact on the environment. Sustainability is a strong driver for both our companies.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 27, 2016, 12:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 27 September, 2016: SKF will be appearing at WindEnergy Hamburg 2016 to launch its new spherical roller bearings for wind turbine main shafts. Manufactured to deliver outstanding reliability, these self-aligning bearings provide exceptional performance and meet service life needs of more than 25 years.

SKF’s standard spherical roller bearings are already the most used bearing type in wind turbine main shaft arrangements, with more than 100,000 installations worldwide. However, these newly developed bearings work even harder than their existing counterparts as they have been tailored specifically for the application. Features not needed in this sector, such as the ability to handle speeds up to 600 r/min, have been eliminated to focus on those that are, including improved radial and axial robustness, for best in class operation.

The adapted design of the heavy duty bearings includes a significant weight reduction, an optimised internal geometry and improved lubrication capabilities to ensure lower contact pressures and enhanced load carrying capacity. Ultimately, the SKF wind turbine main shaft spherical roller bearings offer remarkable performance under wind operating conditions and reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE).

Jens Bode, Head of Business Development at SKF’s Renewable Energy Business Unit, said: “Building on our extensive proven experience in the wind industry we have created our first symmetrical spherical roller bearing designed explicitly to provide unparalleled performance in turbine main shafts. This unique, sector specific solution improves the features that are critical to the application for ultra robust and reliable main shaft arrangements that reduce the levelized cost of energy through extended service life.”

See SKF at WindEnergy Hamburg 2016: Hall B6, booth 374.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 27, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 23 September 2016: At the International Suppliers fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany from 18 to 20 October 2016, SKF will showcase a range of solutions developed to meet the demands of automotive electric powertrains.   

Pure electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles are reaching the automotive mainstream. By 2020, higher production volumes and technological advances will mean electric vehicles are likely to be cost-competitive with their gasoline equivalents. By 2040, electric vehicles may account for 35 per cent of new car sales1.

For the industry, the electrification of automotive powertrains represents the biggest technological shift for a generation. Expertise from SKF is helping leading automotive OEMs and suppliers tackle many of the challenges they are encountering along the way.

SKF eDrive ball bearings, for example, have been developed specifically to address the need for consistently low friction, high speed and high power density in EV and hybrid vehicle electric machines. The bearings use the SKF-patented energy efficient E2 polymer cage, optimized raceway geometry, and a validated long life, wide temperature grease. Combined, these advanced design features help enable longer drive system service life and extend battery range.

Hybrid bearings, which combine steel rings with rolling elements made of bearing grade silicon nitride, have a number of advantages in EV applications. In addition to a longer service life and improved resistance to vibration, these bearings also have excellent electrical insulation characteristics, protecting drivetrain components from damage caused by stray electrical currents.

SKF has also developed a range of bearing units with integrated sensors that simplify assembly and improve reliability in electric powertrain applications. SKF Rotor Positioning Sensor-Bearing Units, for example, use a patented design that allows very precise management of the sensor-bearing unit air gap. As a result, the units are insensitive to severe magnetic field disturbances, and can withstand application vibration and continuous temperatures up to 150°C.

SKF EV and hybrid vehicle solutions can be fully customized to suit the needs of specific customer vehicle and powertrain programs, and SKF’s experienced application engineers are able to offer intensive support from initial development through to series production.


Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 23, 2016, 12:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 23 September 2016: At the International Suppliers fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany from 18 to 20 October 2016, SKF will announce the launch of a new product designed to offer greater durability, improved comfort and reduced noise and vibration in automotive suspension applications. 

The spring insulating suspension bearing takes SKF’s robust, proven main suspension bearing unit (MSBU) technology and incorporates a polymer spring that is mechanically and chemically bonded to the lower bearing washer.

The spring insulator plays a critical role in automotive suspension systems, damping road vibrations that pass from the spring, through the bearing and into the passenger compartment. Conventional spring insulators are installed separately from the MBSU.

This approach creates a potential failure point in the vehicle suspension, since the insulator is susceptible to damage due to the ingress of dirt and contamination between it and the bearing.

The new spring insulating suspension bearing eliminates this point of weakness by building the bearing and spring insulator as a single component, with high strength chemical bonding used to connect the spring to the bearing. Additional optimisation of the bearing geometry ensures a secure mechanical connection between the two elements.

For manufacturers, the spring insulating suspension bearing offers further advantages, reducing the number of components required in the suspension system and simplifying assembly to reduce total suspension cost. The material selected for the spring element can be adapted to suit the precise requirements of the application, and SKF can offer a wide range of material options, all optimised for high volume manufacturing using injection moulding.

SKF has applied for no less than three patents covering innovative features of the new design, including the spring material, insulator design and fixation technology. Prototype units are already undergoing evaluation by leading Automotive OEMS.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 23, 2016, 8:00 am
As in many areas of transportation, the drive to improve safety and reliability and to reduce maintenance in the rail sector is leading to increased interest in condition based maintenance approaches. That calls for monitoring technologies: changes in temperature, vibration and other variables during normal operation can provide an early warning of mechanical problems, allowing operators to take action before failures occur. The problem until now has been that installing the array of sensors required to collect this data from key components requires complex networks of additional wiring. Those cables are costly to install, and their presence makes routine maintenance more time consuming and difficult.

Now, working with academics from two leading Italian institutions1, a team of engineers from SKF has shown how a network of sensors can operate using low power wireless communications, greatly simplifying design, installation and maintenance.

Making a wireless network suitable for rail condition monitoring applications is difficult for several reasons. First, the sensors must be able to operate for long periods without being recharged or replaced. The axleboxes on some modern passenger trains may be expected to travel more than a million kilometres between overhauls, for example, and operators have ambitions to double that figure. The need to generate and store their own power means the sensors must be extremely energy efficient, greatly limiting the power available for the transmission of wireless signals.

Set against this need for low power is the large size of rail vehicles. A sensor mounted at the axlebox might have to transmit to a receiver almost 20m away in the centre of the vehicle, for example. Rail carriages are difficult environments for wireless transmission too. Large quantities of conductive material in the bogies, chassis and body of the vehicle can all block or interfere with signals.

To build a wireless network capable of meeting these requirements, the SKF team first had to choose a suitable working frequency for their proposed system. This choice was affected by numerous factors, including the regional regulations governing the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, the likelihood of interference from other equipment on or near the train, and the trade-off between the amount of data that can be carried on each frequency and the size of the hardware needed.

The team initially looked at three potential frequencies: 434MHz, 868MHz and 2.4GHz. They then set about examining the characteristics of the railway system using advanced simulation tools that model the reflection and diffraction of radio waves through and around the structure of a railway carriage.

This simulation explored a number of possible network configurations. This included a system where sensors on each bogie transmit to receivers mounted under the roof of the train, and an alternative approach in which sensors are equipped with both transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) antennae, with each sensor communicating with its neighbors, then sending data along the train to a final receiver in the driver’s cab. The 2.4GHz frequency showed propagation issues, and the potential for interference from on-board Wi-Fi signals, but both 434MHz and 868MHz demonstrated good propagation values. After rejecting 434MHz since it would require large and complex antennae, the team eventually settled on 868MHz as the best compromise for the task. Physical tests using prototype equipment mounted on a real train confirmed the findings of the simulations.

The next essential element of the new approach was a new antenna design, optimised for the unique challenges of the rail environment. To allow sensors to be installed right where they are needed - on the axle-box of a bogie, for example - the overall size of the sensor, control electronics and antenna must be kept very small. And to survive for long periods under a train, any antenna design must be protected from dust and moisture ingress, and able to survive wide temperature swings and high levels of vibration.

To build an antenna that would meet these needs, the team selected a configuration called a Planar Inverted-F Antenna (PIFA). In this design, antenna elements are “built” over a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) which is covered in a conductive material to act as ground plane. A dielectric substrate with metallic layer is added to the other side of the PCB. This configuration is physically robust and transmits in any direction – another important characteristic for components that may have to be squeezed into difficult spaces.

By using a dielectric material with a very high relative permittivity (εr=10.9), the team was able to shrink the antenna to a size small enough to be suitable for a standard railway axlebox. Tests of the new antenna mounted inside an axlebox have shown that it exhibits excellent performance, and is less affected by the proximity of other large metal objects than current commercially available designs. These research results are proving invaluable as SKF develops the next generation of Internet of Things enabled products for the Railway market.
1 The team behind the work included Franco Lambertino and Mario Rossi from SKF’s Railway Segment;  Gianluca Dassano, Francesca Vipiana and Mario Orefice from Antenna and EMC Lab (LACE), Dept. of Electronics and Telecommunications, Politecnico di Torino; and Sergio Arianos from the Antenna and EMC Lab (LACE), Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB), Torino. The group presented its research work at the 11th World Congress on Railway Research in Milan earlier this year.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden 21 September, 2016: SKF has signed an agreement with Czech railway engineering company BONATRANS GROUP a.s., to supply 1840 axlebox sets and journal bearings. The components will be used as part of a major order for freight cars from Ferrovial Algeria, the Algerian division of the global infrastructure and municipal services company.

High levels of reliability are a key priority in this application, which will involve extended operation in extremely challenging conditions: the hot, dusty environment of the Algerian desert. While the axleboxes used on the project are a standard design, each unit will be customized to suit the customer’s specific requirements, including a special paint finish and markings.

The axlebox sets will be the SKF Y25 design, which has been specially developed to cope with high axle loads and demanding operating conditions. The Y25 units are equipped with cylindrical roller journal bearings. This design offers opportunities to achieve lower life-cycle cost through longer maintenance intervals, simplified maintenance operations and improvements in performance and safety. Two types of SKF cylindrical roller journal bearings will be used in the bogie units: NJ 130x240 TN/VA820 and BC1-2008.

“For this contract, our customer faced very demanding lead times, both to prepare a competitive tender and to commence to delivery of the wagons themselves,” says Jan Vlasak Railway Segment Manager – Czech Republic at SKF. “SKF was able to provide support by developing a customized solution in real time, while our flexible manufacturing facilities we were also able to meet the customer’s delivery criteria. And of course, our rail industry components have an unparalleled reputation for reliability and long service life in the most demanding conditions.”

The SKF components used in the project has been manufactured at the company’s plants in Saint-Cyr-Sur-Loire, France and Poznan, Poland. Delivery has already been completed during summer 2016.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Minimizing the number of overhauls for a bogie during the life of a train is key to reducing life cycle cost. Extending the service interval from four to six years can bring savings of about 3 000 EUR per bogie per year.

Looking back more than a decade the wheels were one of the main limiting factors to extend the time between maintenance intervals. Nowadays the use of computer controlled under-floor lathes to remove flat spots and compensate for wear means that a set of wheels can last for more than 1.5 million km before replacement is required.

Until now the bearings upon which those wheels rotate have not been able to meet the longer wheel life. The service life of most components in the bearing, e.g., rings, rollers and seals can even with conservative life calculations outlast a set of wheels by a factor of two, but only if there is enough lubrication. This leads to the critical point. Grease life of railway wheel bearings has long been a weak link in extending bogie maintenance intervals.

Grease is a vital component in railway wheel bearings – it separates the metal surfaces inside the bearing to prevent wear and protects those surfaces against corrosion. The properties of grease change over time, however the base oil component within the grease – which provides lubrication and protection – gradually bleeds out of the thickener that holds it in place. Eventually, the grease is exhausted and must be replaced.

Standard rail bearing units typically require overhaul and re-lubrication every million km, a process that requires the vehicle to be taken out of service and the bearings removed. As the wheel life is getting longer the bearing becomes the limiting component. For operators, these periodic bearing overhauls are a costly and inconvenient maintenance requirement that they would avoid if they could. In an ideal world, bearing overhaul intervals would match the life of the wheel set, so that both jobs could be completed in a single operation.

That situation has become a reality, thanks to an intensive R&D project by engineers at SKF. The company’s latest railway wheel bearing has been designed to operate for 1.7 million km between overhauls, allowing bearing overhaul schedules to match replacement of even the most durable wheels. The SKF team achieved this reduction in maintenance requirements, by focussing on the factors that affect the life of the lubricant within the bearing.

That process began with the lubricant itself. “To maximise the performance and service life of grease, you have to balance the rate at which the base oil bleeds from the thickener,” explains Jan Babka, Senior Application Engineer in SKF’s rail division. “If the grease bleeds too fast, it will quickly become exhausted, but if it bleeds too slowly, it will not release sufficient oil to separate the metal surfaces.“ To find a grease with the best possible combination of characteristics for the wheel bearing application, SKF worked closely with leading rail industry lubricant suppliers.

Having achieved a good starting point, the team then addressed the other characteristics that affect grease life. “Grease life is influenced by a large number of factors, including temperature, rotational speed, bearing size, cleanliness, mechanical churning and other things like the presence of electric currents.” explains Babka. In a railway wheel bearing, most of those characteristics are determined already by the application, but three where we could have a lot of influence are smoother surfaces, cooler running and higher robustness”


Even if a rolling surface in a bearing feels smooth when you touch it – it is still not perfectly flat. The surface roughness plays an important role in how much wear and friction is generated. It is important to limit wear since any lose metallic particles can accelerate oxidisation of the grease and shorten grease life. It is also important to reduce friction due to surface roughness since it heats up the grease which in turns reduces grease life. For this reason SKF has refined the surface finishing process of our wheel bearings.


Controlling the temperature of the grease required SKF to draw upon its extensive experience of rolling bearing design. “As a rule of thumb, a 15°C increase in operating temperature will halve the life of the grease in a bearing,” explains Babka. “And the main cause of a rise in temperature is friction within the bearing.” The challenge for the SKF engineers, therefore, was to find a way of reducing friction without negatively affecting the strength or operating life of the bearing itself.

Their solution was subtle changes to bearing geometry to optimise the length of the contact between roller and raceway. A long contact gives a high carrying capacity of the bearing but you have to pay for that by increased friction and shorter grease life. The key is to find the right geometry for the right bearing and its operating conditions.. On a typical 130x240 size TBU, SKF’s testing revealed a 30 % reduction in rolling friction, resulting in a drop in temperature of 10°C under normal operating conditions.

Higher robustness

To ensure that the bearing would not fail even when approaching the service life of the grease when wear can become a problem SKF make use of its patented Xbite heat treatment technology for the bearing rings. Xbite delivers an extra tough "bainite" steel with the same hardness as conventional "martensite" but with higher toughness and longer fatigue life. It also has a higher resistance to wear and a slower crack propagation.

The new SKF TBU is now in production in a range of common sizes. The unit, which is suitable for trains operating between 160 and 250kph, is already in service with one major European rail operator. So is this the last stop for technology development in railway wheel bearings? Babka doesn’t think so. “1.7 million km is what this industry is asking for today, but there is no doubt that it will always be looking for ways to extend component life and reduce maintenance requirements. In other rail applications, like traction motors, we already make use of other methods to provide even longer grease life, for example through the use of hybrid ceramic bearings. That technology it is too expensive today for large bearings, but it shows that in the long term, it should be quite possible to create a bearing that will run for 3 million km between overhauls.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 21 September, 2016: SKF has launched a revolutionary new seal that has been developed to save energy and cut maintenance requirements in high speed passenger rail applications. Introduced to the market for the first time at InnoTrans 2016, the SKF Centrifugal Lip Seal features an innovative design that offers a unique combination of both contacting and non-contacting sealing on wheel set bearing units in one product.

The sophisticated seal allows for an optimised friction pattern throughout the operation cycle of high speed trains. It incorporates a lip that is closed when the vehicle is travelling at low start and stop speeds to effectively exclude contamination from the bearing. When the speed is increased and the centrifugal force reaches a certain limit the lip opens and it becomes an almost zero friction seal, while the same centrifugal force prevents the ingress of pollution.

This intelligent two-seals-in-one design balances the trade-off between sealing function and friction torque, eliminating the need for a compromise on either. As a result, the unit can operate at a low temperature and extended maintenance intervals can be realised to cut the cost of servicing and improve the reliability of the application through cleaner grease. The significantly enhanced efficiency and energy savings can also lead to a reduction in the environmental impact of high speed rail.

“The SKF Centrifugal Lip Seal has been developed specifically to overcome the traditional sealing quandary manufacturers face with high speed train wheel set bearing units,” Maurizio Martinetti, Senior Project Manager at SKF Product Development, said. “No lip contact at low speeds meant there was a risk of contamination, while contact at high speeds led to energy-consuming friction and its other associated problems, such as excessive operating temperatures and the need for frequent maintenance. However, this new seal eliminates all of these issues for consistently efficient and high performance operation.”

See SKF at InnoTrans 2016: Hall 22, booth 606

For more information about SKF’s solutions for the railway industry, please visit:

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Keeping freight trains on the rails is a major behind-the-scenes operation – and if not done well, can lead to very expensive unplanned repairs. These costs can be managed by regular testing, which ensures that potential failures are picked up well in advance.

Failures of AC traction motors in freight rail systems are a major component behind breakdowns. Despite this, testing regimes for AC traction motors are often incomplete, and do not verify the entire motor. At the same time, testing is often technician-specific: there is often no clear method to ensure that all tests are performed, or that all results are accurately recorded.

BNSF, a major rail freight company in the US, was faced with these types of problems. It wanted to improve uptime and reliability of its trains, as it was seeing a lot of motor failures while the trains were on the rails. This made for expensive repairs, of the traction motor itself and often also of the drives for the motor.

This is where SKF Baker stepped in to help. It supplied 24 of its Baker AWA-IV automated motor test rigs to BNSF, which allowed the company’s technicians to perform more extensive testing of its AC traction motors. In addition, the devices were fitted with a custom-designed user interface that helped the technicians perform the tests more consistently – by guiding them through each test procedure. The interface was built specifically for BNSF, but can easily be adapted to the requirements of other rail companies.

Switching kits

BNSF had been using a different test rig for its motors, but the equipment was coming up short: it only verified groundwall insulation and could not give critical information about the windings, for example, the turn-to-turn insulation – which is the most prevalent cause of electrical motor faults. The Baker AWA-IV offered more complete fault coverage, which was crucial for improved motor reliability. AC traction motors for diesel electric trains are driven by variable speed drives (VSDs), which put a great stress on the motor windings due to fast voltage transients. Identifying winding failures in this case is therefore critical.

However, using the right piece of test kit was only part of the answer. Trains are complicated pieces of equipment. When they are tested, they must be tested properly – and consistently. It was vital to ensure that every technician in the organisation carried out exactly the same test – in terms of the order in which the tests were done, and with the same parameters and limits.

So, SKF Baker developed a customised user interface for the device to guide the technician through the entire test and troubleshooting process.

Introducing a consistent test regime across the organisation meant introducing a centralised ‘master’ test sequence. It is accessed from a central location – and can be adjusted if necessary. So, if test conditions need to be changed, by altering a test voltage or duration, for instance – these can be made centrally, then automatically updated on each AWA test device.

Special relevance

Consistency of testing is always important, but it has a special relevance here. Ordinarily, a repair shop within an organisation will handle a wide variation of motors and is unlikely to see two identical motors in a six-month timeframe. In this case, however, the same locomotives and motors are coming in every day, so it makes perfect sense to introduce as much automation and consistency as possible.

The test sequences are centralised, but so are the test results. This allows the company to run effective reports by analysing multiple test results. Data might reveal how a motor should be shielded, for example, or a systemic weakness in the feeder cables that are connected to it.

BNSF also asked specifically that test results be displayed as a ‘pass/fail’, rather than a specific value. This means that technicians are not tempted to re-test a motor if the result is ‘close’. The full detailed test results are centrally stored, allowing for statistical control of the tests. Again, this takes another level of variability out of the test procedure.

The custom interface was designed specifically for BNSF, but can be modified quite easily for other rail companies: every company has different job safety requirements, test regimes and different specific test parameters, and each new interface can take account of that. For instance, BNSF incorporated a test procedure to allow for ‘rain conditions’. In a repair shop, a train is sheltered – but out on the rails will frequently be subject to extreme weather. The SKF Baker interface implemented a test procedure whereby, after the ‘standard’ test, the motor leads were sprayed with water and the motor was re-tested. This is the kind of ‘test logic’ that is beyond the capability of standard test rigs.

The interface certainly worked for BNSF: after switching to the SKF Baker AWA-IV test rigs, the enhanced testing capability – and greater consistency – resulted in a 5 per cent reduction in motor failures per year, and 40 per cent reduction in phase module removals.

And, with a return on investment within one year, it was money well spent for the company.

The SKF Baker AWA-IV, with custom interface, will be seen at the Innotrans exhibition in Berlin, on 20-23 September 2016.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Stewart McLellan, Business Development Manager for SKF’s Railway Segment, explains how OEMs and rail operators can improve the overhaul, repair and replacement of critical components on rail vehicles, to extend service intervals.

An industry trend for improved availability and performance of rolling stock has forced train manufacturers to find long life integrated products – as defined by the RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, Safety) process. One important area of consideration is to extend service intervals – which boosts the availability of rolling stock while minimising the time spent maintaining and repairing it over its lifespan.

Monitoring conditions
A carefully planned condition monitoring strategy is an essential requirement if service intervals and component operating life are to be extended. On-line condition monitoring systems and dedicated software programs have been developed to monitor bogies, wheelsets, axle boxes, propulsion systems and rail tracks.

An example is SKF’s IMx-R bogie condition monitoring system, which can be used to efficiently plan the bogie maintenance activities based on real component condition. The system includes sensors to detect running instability and bearing temperatures according to the requirements of the European Technical Specification for Interoperability, TSI Directive 96/48 EC. It provides a reliable performance overview that identifies potential damage before functional failure and the associated train service disruption, enabling operators to consolidate maintenance activities and perform necessary inspection and repair work during planned stops.

All this can extend maintenance intervals by reducing downtime and improving reliability. The collected data also supports root cause failure analysis, which helps to eliminate recurring problems and failures through equipment improvements, redesign and upgrade.

Service intervals can also be extended through approved lubrication techniques and by utilising automated lubrication systems. These can be fitted to critical equipment to dispense an exact amount of lubricant to bearings and other moving parts at predetermined intervals. It reduces the risk of under- and over-greasing and ensures consistent machinery performance. Determining the correct lubrication interval and quantity for the various bogie components was traditionally a matter of guesswork. These systems can also be linked to condition monitoring devices so that application of lubricants is based on actual operating conditions.

Improved bearings
Railway vehicle bearings must be dependable under extreme conditions. Wheelset bearings are among the most safety-critical components on rail vehicles, withstanding heavy loads with minimal maintenance and constant exposure to the elements, possible contamination and extremes of climate.

Products such as compact tapered roller bearing units (CTBUs) are designed for use in all types of wheelsets, offering high load-carrying capacity in a small space. Low friction labyrinth seals ride on a special inner ring shoulder, which improves protection against contaminant ingress. The bearing also features a polyamide cage that minimises friction, roller slip and wear, while eliminating the risk of seizure. The CTBU can incorporate a sensor system to monitor wheelset conditions, such as: rotational speed for use in wheel slip/slide protection (WSP or WSSP), direction of movement for ATP systems as well as bearing temperature for the on-board monitoring system and traction control unit (TCU) systems. These Sensor signals are integrated on-board, for effective management of train movement and safety critical systems.

Value added services
Over the 30-year life of a train, services such as bearing refurbishment, bearing on site exchange and condition assessment can help to cut the time and cost of maintenance.

Refurbishing bearings usually involves a thorough cleaning, with all parts visually and dimensionally inspected using purpose-made fixtures and measuring gauges. Customer bearings can be upgraded to allow the use of better greases and seals, amongst other component improvements to support reliability. OEM Refurbishment often exceeds the stringent Railway Industry standards for rolling bearings.

On-site bearing replacement can cut costs, as it means an entire wheelset does not have to be replaced if a single component is defective. It involves the bearing supplier visiting the customer’s maintenance location with the equipment needed to exchange bearings on site. Typically, a complete bearing unit can be changed while the wheelset is still in the bogie at the depot under a train. Both bearings per wheelset can be changed in a few hours, so rolling stock can return to service as quickly as possible. Costs are a fraction of that for a complete replacement wheelset.

To further extend maintenance intervals, experts can assess the condition of bearings and produce documented evidence of bearing condition, along with recommendations to achieve better value. When the condition of the bearings from a train are studied, and the grease is analysed, comparison with the application details can reveal ways to improve bearing performance – such as upgrading bearing seals during refurbishment.

No component lasts forever, especially in the rail industry, but smart monitoring – and timely replacement – can ensure that any potential failures have a minimal effect on availability.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 21 September, 2016: The suspension monorail runs along a continuous steel rail in one direction, turning at the ends of the line in a loop. The cars are suspended below from their bogies. The railway can take bends with radii from 120 m, reaching a maximum speed of 60 kilometres/hour, making it considerably faster than a tram, for instance. The drive units running on the rail comprise pairs of wheels aligned behind each other. Unlike traditional rail vehicles, the suspension railway’s wheels have two wheel flanges. The wheels are also fitted with special sound absorbers to reduce the noise.

The fact that the designers of this special rail solution “looked to the heavens” for inspiration was due to the cramped space conditions on the ground. Already by the end of the 19th century, Wuppertal’s city centre was very densely built-up. Therefore, the only place which could accommodate public transport was above the river that gave the city its name. The enthusiasm for technology prevalent at that time, along with the spirit of optimism in the steel construction sector finally resulted in this ambitious project being carried out. Nowadays, the railway runs along a 13.3-kilometre route, 10 of which are directly above the river. During rush hour, 22 cars run, with three vehicles every 10 minutes. The support framework comprises 468 angled pillars, with the bridge sections supporting the track integrated into them.

Technical facelift
The city’s favourite “old lady” is currently right in the midst of a “facelift”. “We have extensively renovated the framework during the last 20 years. We are now gradually modernising the entire vehicle range,” explains Thomas Kaulfuss, the suspension railway’s technical operations manager. State-of-the-art cars are being used, along with an innovative radio-controlled train safety system, like the one used on the TGVs in France. But the technical specifications also mention the use of an efficient wheel flange lubrication system. “We operate in a very confined area of the city. Our aim is to use a green solution that will be environmentally-friendly and keep the level of noise disturbing residents to a minimum,” adds Kaulfuss.

It didn’t take the railway specialist long to find a suitable partner. An older car had an SKF wheel flange lubrication system operating in it already for seven years. It was initially used, on a trial basis, to replace an old system powered by compressed air. A control unit with a sensor was introduced to replace a mercury switch which produced inaccurate doses. “This was a huge leap forward in our view. The system responded to speed and travelling around bends. With the new vehicles, we could program them so that the wheel flange is lubricated at any position along the route,” remarks Rolf Barnat enthusiastically, a supervisor in the suspension railway vehicle workshop.

This paved the way for the updated version of the SKF solution also to be deployed in the new cars. At the moment, the solution is already fitted in two vehicles, with test runs already carried out successfully, aimed at fine-tuning the settings. By the end of the year, the new cars will then be permanently running through Wuppertal.

Electromagnetic instead of pneumatic operation
The SKF EasyRail Airless wheel flange lubrication system is designed so that the lubricant is supplied from a container pump to the electromagnetic dosing pump via a loop. The electromagnetic pump applies a predefined quantity of lubricant on the wheel flange without using compressed air. This “pump-nozzle unit” is equipped with a heating system, which helps ensure the reliable delivery of lubricant even when it is extremely cold.

“In Wuppertal we use PER electromagnetic pumps with two nozzles and a KFG container pump with a 2-kg capacity. The PER pump applies the grease to the wheel flange in doses of 40 cubic millimetres per nozzle and stroke in less than 0.5 seconds,” explains Tobias Weber, Account Manager Railway in the SKF Lubrication Business Unit. Weber is still in constant touch with WSW mobil, providing support in making those last fine adjustments.

The control unit of SKF's solution - a system of the LCG2 type - is equipped with a curve sensor. It supports an economical, environmentally-friendly use of lubricant. On the Wuppertal suspension railway the SKF system is fitted, to save space, on the first bogie. As compressed air is no longer used, there is no point in having a compressor, as the old models did. This saves not only space but also costs, reducing the amount of cabling required. “The system’s sensitivity is controlled electronically. Users can set the curve sensor to their individual requirements and determine exactly when it will spray,” adds Tobias Weber.

The practice runs using the new cars built by Vossloh-Kiepe have produced totally positive results. “We’ve had good experiences. The system is doing a completely reliable job,” says Thomas Kaulfuss. The system used in the existing rolling stock has already produced good lubrication results. Compared to the pneumatic version, the SKF system ensures far less noise is generated when travelling around bends. “This gave SKF a crucial edge. The experts have already come to see us and we’ve seen that this version works. This has made our job considerably easier when looking for a suitable solution for the new cars,” says Kaulfuss, explaining the decision-making process.

Less produces more
Kaulfuss also sees advantages in the system’s technical design. “As we’ve stopped using compressed air and a compressor is no longer required, we don’t have so many components on the vehicle. This reduces the weight. Another benefit is that it makes installation easier because we have less cables and pipes to lay,” he adds. One important issue has been dose adjustment. The control unit with a sensor resolves this task without any problem. It responds precisely to speed and travelling around bends. “The control facility via the operating system gives us the chance to respond at any time to conditions which are changing all the time,” says Kaulfuss.

Kaulfuss describes the cooperation with SKF’s experts as excellent. The wheel flange lubrication system had to be adapted to the special requirements of the Wuppertal suspension railway. “SKF was already there on site, integrated the components, and performed the adjustments. It was a great team effort,” says the operations manager. From a technical perspective, EasyRail Airless offers a load of features “that we’re still gradually getting to grips with”. Kaulfuss is confident that the project will be a success. “We’ll achieve our objective of keeping road noise to a minimum.”

SKF will be presenting further efficiency-enhancing solutions for the railway sector in September at the InnoTrans trade fair held in Berlin (20 to 23 September). Visitors to InnoTrans will find SKF in Hall 22, stand 606.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 22, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 19 September 2016: SKF will be present at WindEnergy Hamburg 2016 to demonstrate how to optimise performance and increase turbine availability in the wind power sector through its range of dedicated technologies. From intelligent maintenance systems to bearings and lubrication system pumps, the innovations being showcased have all been designed to reduce the levelised cost of energy and maintenance requirements, while enhancing safety and energy output.   

Being shown in Europe for the first time at the expo will be SKF’s newly developed spherical roller bearings for wind turbine main shafts. These heavy duty bearings provide exceptional radial and axial robustness and outstanding reliability for sustainable energy production. Their adapted design means they can offer up to twice the fatigue life of conventional bearing types and can meet service life needs of more than 25 years for significant cost savings.

Also on show will be the Lincoln P623-S and P623-M electrically operated pumps with lightning protection for use in single-line and progressive automatic lubrication systems, respectively. Designed to withstand electromagnetic pulses caused by lightening strikes, these IP 67-rated models increase safety and meet the latest Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements to bring lubrication systems into compliance.

SKF experts will be available in the booth at WindEnergy Hamburg to give full information and advice on its wide range of sector-specific solutions. 

See SKF at WindEnergy Hamburg 2016: Hall B6, booth 374.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 19, 2016, 8:00 am

Gothenburg, Sweden, 16 September2016: In accordance with a resolution taken at the Annual GeneralMeeting of AB SKF on 31 March 2016, this is to announce therepresentatives of the four largest shareholders by number ofvotes, who, together with the Chairman of the Board, constitute theNomination Committee in preparation of the Annual General Meeting2017.

Marcus Wallenberg, FAM
Ramsay Brufer, Alecta
Anders Algotsson, AFA Försäkring
Anders Jonsson, Skandia
The Annual General Meeting of AB SKF will be held in Gothenburg onWednesday, 29 March, 2017.
Shareholders who wish to submit proposals on members of the AB SKFBoard, Board Chairman, Board fees, auditor, audit fees, Chairman ofthe Annual General Meeting, or Nomination Committee in preparationof the Annual General Meeting 2018, can, at the latest two monthsbefore the Annual General Meeting 2017, contact the Chairman of theBoard of AB SKF on e-mail:

or to one of the representatives at the following e-mail addresses:

Aktiebolaget SKF

For further information,please contact:
Press Relations: Theo Kjellberg, +46 31 3376576; +46 725 776 576;
Investor Relations: Patrik Stenberg, +46 31337 2104; +46 705 472 104;

SKF is a leading global supplierof bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and serviceswhich include technical support, maintenance and reliabilityservices, engineering consulting and training. SKF is representedin more than 130 countries and has around 17,000 distributorlocations worldwide. Annual sales in 2015 were SEK 75 997 millionand the number of employees was 46 635.

® SKF is a registered trademark of the SKF Group.

Posted: September 16, 2016, 7:00 am

Gothenburg, 15 September 2016: For the 17th year in arow, SKF has been listed as one of the most sustainable companiesby the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI).

The Group’s performance within supply chainmanagement and overall environmental management programme onceagain ranked highly in the survey.

Rob Jenkinson, Director, Corporate Sustainability,says, “Our long-running inclusion in the DJSI is something that weare all very proud of within SKF. Sustainability issues forbusinesses have evolved during this period, with an ever increasingfocus on reducing negative environmental impacts and doing more forsociety as a whole. We maintain our focus on understanding theseissues and the role we can play to help address them – now, and inthe future.”

“Doing so is good for society, the environment andmakes long term business sense for SKF, our customers andsuppliers.”

The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes were launched in1999 and are the longest-running and most prestigious globalsustainability benchmarks worldwide.  In addition, SKF is alsoa member of the FTSE4Good Index and Ethibel Sustainability Index(ESI) Excellence Europe.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: September 15, 2016, 7:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 13 September 2016: SKF today announced the introduction of its Lincoln 12-volt, lithium-ion PowerLuber. Developed for quick, effortless application of lubricant, this grease tool is suitable for agricultural, automotive, construction, general maintenance and industrial applications.

The 12-volt PowerLuber features a lithium-ion battery for maximum power and efficiency and delivers grease at up to 8,000 psi (551 bar). Its three-point base keeps the tool upright for user convenience and helps prevent dirt and debris from entering the motor. Its ergonomic, lighter-weight construction reduces operator fatigue and allows easy access to tight areas.

The tool’s new dual-lip follower enables bulk or cartridge delivery and eliminates grease bypass. The 12-volt PowerLuber has a bright, built-in light emitting diode to illuminate the work area. Also, the grease gun has an integrated hose holder and tube guide for secure hose storage and easy threading of the grease barrel.

Find SKF’s new Lincoln PowerLuber grease gun at Automechanika: Hall 9.1., booth E79.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 13, 2016, 12:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 12 September 2016: In response to the food and beverage industry’s changing needs, SKF has developed a comprehensive range of bearings meeting safety requirements, designed for reduced maintenance and long life in a wide range of production environments.

Product safety is the top priority for food and drink manufacturers, consumers and regulators alike. The latest industry requirements, like the US Food Safety Modernization Act and ISO 22000, require companies to place increased emphasis on equipment and processes designed to prevent product contamination during manufacture.

Bearings used in food production machinery present multiple challenges in this context. The wide temperature variations, high humidity and chemically aggressive environments found in food production can lead to accelerated corrosion and wear. That challenge is compounded by wash-down protocols involving pressurized water jets and chemical cleaning agents. Even maintenance and bearing replacement procedures create risks of contamination from dropped parts or spilled lubricants.

The foundation of SKF’s offering is the Food Line range of deep groove ball bearings, which feature industry standard stainless steel rings, rolling elements, cages and seal backing plates. For the most demanding environments, meanwhile, the MRC Ultra corrosion resistant range uses proprietary high nitrogen corrosion resistant (HNCR) stainless steel rings and ceramic rolling elements for dramatically improved fatigue life.

As standard the bearings in both ranges are pre-lubricated with NSF in category H1 grease suitable for incidental contact in food production environments. In accordance with FDA recommendations, the synthetic rubber seals used in the bearings are coloured blue for optical detectability. In addition the SKF Food Line stainless steel deep groove ball bearing seals have EC approval.

An alternative to conventional grease lubrication is SKF’s Solid Oil technology, a polymer matrix saturated with food grade lubrication oil that keeps contaminants out and resists wash-down chemicals and water without emulsifying. Solid Oil completely fills the internal space within the bearing, encapsulating the cage and rolling elements. The resulting lack of internal voids eliminates “breathing”, where temperature changes between operation and cleaning cycles can allow conventional bearings to draw in moisture, causing corrosion. The Solid Oil matrix also contains two to four times more oil than conventional greased bearings, meaning lubricant life is extended, reducing routine maintenance requirements and a particular benefit in hard to reach areas.

SKF can use its extensive experience of the food and beverage production environment to develop custom solutions for the most demanding applications. One major ice cream producer, for example was suffering premature bearing failures in its hardening tunnels, as a result of corrosion due to moisture ingress in the bearings. The problem was exacerbated by breathing during cleaning cycles when bearing temperate rises rapidly from -45°C to +25°C.

SKF replaced the conventional bearings use in the machine’s 32 hubs with MRC HNCR units, lubricated with food grade Solid Oil and further protected by a custom machined, FDA approved optically detectable secondary seal. The new design has extended expected bearing life for the customer from one year to six1 , and eliminated the need for periodic relubrication with traditional grease, significantly reducing the risk of product contamination and also providing further productivity benefits.

Find more information on SKF's corrosion resistant bearings for the food and beverage industry on

Aktiebolaget SKF

1 based on analysis following the first year of operation.
Posted: September 12, 2016, 12:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 8 September 2016: At the SMM 2016 trade fair (Hamburg, 6-9 September), SKF will launch its new SKF Dynamic Stabilizer Cover, designed to reduce drag and improve the efficiency of passenger vessels equipped with SKF retractable fin stabilizers type S and type Z.

The use of fin stabilizers to control rolling motions has resulted in significant improvements to passenger comfort and safety in a wide range of vessels, from yachts to cruise ships, ferries as well as commercial vessels. Retractable designs, such as the SKF retractable fin stabilizer type S and type Z, reduce the flow resistance significantly. Now SKF engineers have found a smart way to further reduce the flow resistance associated with this design, while retaining all its other benefits.

When a vessel is in motion, the fin box opening in the side of the hull creates turbulence, increasing drag on the vessel. With operating efficiency posing a high priority for customers, SKF wanted to find a way to minimise the resistance even more and thereby decrease fuel consumption.

The solution is a deceptively simple, pneumatically operated design. The new SKF Dynamic Stabilizer Cover (DSC) uses two specially shaped air cushions, fitted to the top and bottom of the fin box with small steel rails. In normal operation, the cushions are inflated using compressed air from the vessel’s existing pneumatic systems. Inflated, the cushions form a smooth, streamlined cover over the fin box opening, a shape that has been shown by computer modelling as well as real life tests to reduce drag by around 90 percent.

When the stabilizer fin is to be extended or retracted, air is released from the cushions by opening the valve. The cushions are then deflated by the water pressure outside the hull, creating room for the fin’s movement. When deployment or housing is complete, the cushions can be re-inflated. Control of the cover is fully integrated into the stabilizer fin control systems, requiring no additional action by the crew.

The DSC is constructed from a highly durable Kevlar mesh coated with neoprene rubber which provides extra protection from barnacles and other marine life that may accumulate on the fin.

The DSC cover will be available as an option for new vessels using all sizes of SKF retractable fin stabilizers and it is also possible to retrofit the system on existing fin installations.

See SKF at SMM 2016: Hall A1, stand 210

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 8, 2016, 11:00 am
Legal conventions on pollution (such as MARPOL) are becoming stricter, covering everything from greenhouse gases and liquid pollutants to soot and other fine particle emissions. Consequences of non-compliance range from more frequent inspections and harsher fines, to a complete ban on entering a nation’s ports.

While emissions from engine exhausts, bilge water separators, sewage systems, and incinerators have been methodically checked for decades, previously this has been a decentralised process, with values being measured separately - often by crew members with insufficient training for the job. One solution is to implement a central system that takes measurements from various sources of onboard emissions, adding a time stamp and GPS coordinates. This would create a geo-referenced logbook of emissions, helping ship owners to provide authorities with more detailed information, even years after the data was captured.

One such system is SKF's BlueMon, however this solution goes one step further by fully automating the measurement and logging process, taking into account the ship's location and adjusting emissions limits compliant with those of the maritime zone in which the ship is moving. BlueMon senses when a maritime boundary is being crossed (at which point, different regulations may apply) alerting the captain if the current emissions exceed the limits for that zone.

While manual intervention is possible at this point, BlueMon can independently check the current emission values provided by onboard sensors. If necessary, to meet differing emission limits, additional treatment can be initiated. BlueMon can control, for example, the discharge of bilge water through the system’s own overboard valve in accordance to the limits programmed by the crew. The system will also sound a warning when the ship is approaching the shore, meaning that it must shift to a cleaner fuel, for example, or must not discharge bilge water overboard.

BlueMon is of modular design and can be individually configured as needed. In its standard form, the system comprises a central data logger connected to a PC running a software engine relevant to each of the Annexes to the MARPOL regulations, which will monitor the respective emissions. All data is displayed on the BlueMon Information System for at-a-glance viewing. The user can switch between views that show geographical maps with the ship’s current position and emission zones, and a clearly laid out overview of the current emission values. This view displays the emission values set forth in MARPOL Annex 1 (Regulations for the Prevention of Oil Pollution) – together with a graphical representation of the bilge water system – all on a single screen. The emission values set forth in Annexes 2-6 are also available and summarised on a further screen.

At the moment, the BlueMon system is self-contained, being restricted to the ship itself. The technical possibility of ship-to-shore transmission is likely to be introduced in the next 18 months, similar in many ways to current onboard condition-based monitoring (CBM) systems which are able to transmit CBM data back to shore for remote, expert analysis, and allowing appropriate remedial actions to be relayed back to the ship’s crew.

BlueMon is an attractive option that reduces the crew’s workload and provides greater certainty for ship owners who have assurance that their vessels comply with the regulations - something that is becoming increasingly difficult for crews to maintain manually. With some maritime zones now likely to be monitored by sensor-equipped drones, many shipping experts around the world conclude that, today, you absolutely cannot afford to break the MARPOL convention.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 8, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 7 September, 2016: SKF’s wire rope lubricator (WRL) is helping a leading Greek ship management services provider to maximise safety, cut downtime and significantly extend the life cycle of its ropes. Pantheon Tankers Management Ltd is currently using the specially developed service tool on 11 vessels in its fleet of oil tankers and is showing particularly positive results.

The robust WRL is helping the Athens-based firm to ensure optimum lubrication in all of its wire rope applications, while supporting the business’ key objectives, such as zero incidents and zero harm to the environment. For example, the lubrication system eliminates the need for manual lubrication by hand, which can be extremely time consuming and dangerous, and the precise application of lubricants reduces consumption by up to 25 percent to not only cut costs but also to reduce waste and the impact it has on the planet.

“We have been using the wire rope lubricator solution for two years and it has been proving to be highly reliable, with no issues during time in operations,” says Konstantinos Giannoulis, Purchasing, Pantheon Tankers Management.

In addition, maintenance can now be carried out up to 90 percent quicker than before as the system can lubricate between 30 and 35 metres of rope per minute. The WRL, which supports all lubricants typically used with wire rope, is attached to the equipment periodically and works by forcing only the right amount of grease into the rope core. It distributes the lubrication evenly and adheres it to each wire for long lasting protection against friction and heat generation, while also reducing the risk of corrosion.

On top of the benefits being delivered by the WRL, Pantheon Tankers Management also praised the customer and after sales service that it has received from SKF over the last two years since implementing the solution.

See SKF and the WRL at SMM 2016: Hall A1, stand 210

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 8, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 7 September, 2016: Over the past few years, the maritime industry has undergone a transformation—and this revolution shows no signs of slowing down.

To help customers and people interested in the maritime industry to stay up to speed with the latest industry news and provide technical insights and advice, SKF has launched Engineering at Sea, a brand new online magazine and interactive platform. Topics are focused on innovations, safety, green technology, engineering practice and industry news.

It delivers regular news articles, interviews, opinion columns, videos, blogs, and more, that can help shipbuilders and shipping companies tackle the operational challenges of minimizing operating costs, improving energy efficiency, and increasing availability, all while complying with ever stricter regulations.

Readers can actively participate with comments and ideas, join conversations and have direct contact with the experts on the discussed topics.

Whether the readers are engineers, ship owners, crew members, or simply someone with an interest in the marine industry, the interactive online magazine Engineering at Sea should offer value insights.

The full news site can be viewed at

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 8, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 8 September 2016: At the SMM 2016 trade fair (Hamburg, 6-9 September), SKF is announcing the launch of its 4th generation Simplex intermediate shaft bearing for propulsion shaft lines. The new bearing features multiple design changes and improvements, to provide superior durability, reliability and ease of installation and maintenance for vessel builders and operators.

Those improvements begin at the housing. The revised design is stiffer and around 50kg lighter (in the case of a mid-sized 550 unit) than its predecessor. The redesign of the seal enables an easier installation or replacement by vessel crews, as does a new dowel pin design that can be pushed through the housing. The bearing shell is now solely made of steel rather than cast iron and is secured with a new positive locking mechanism.

Further weight savings and installation improvements have been achieved with a new chock liner design. The revised steel chock liners are around 30 percent lighter and identical liners are used in every location, with their position clearly indicated on the bearing unit. The bearing can be mounted on conventional steel chocks or in a tripod configuration using easily re-adjustable and re-usable SKF Vibracon chocks, which are surface treated to resist corrosion and enhance the durability of the mounting system. Casting with epoxy resin is also possible.

Other changes to facilitate assembly and maintenance include a simplified seal design and a new top-mounted transparent oil scraper cover that allows easy inspection and straightforward access. A new, larger 6mm temperature sensor comes with cables attached to a terminal strip and an IP67 rated junction box. A 2x3 wire dual sensor is available as an option. The integrated cooling coil uses robust, simplified connections protected against damage by overtightening or external impacts.

Overall, the new SKF Simplex intermediate shaft bearing offers significant payback time and total lifecycle cost benefits, from fast installation at the shipyard, to a long operating life and easy maintenance.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 8, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 8 September 2016: SKF has introduced a new Vibracon kit for the clean and permanent alignment and chocking of resilient mounted equipment. Presented to the global market for the first time at SMM 2016, the universal chocking solution is particularly quick and easy to use on resilient mounts in the maritime industry, such as those under engines, generators and skids, and is both adjustable and reusable.

Each complete kit comprises all the components needed for one resilient mount, including SKF Vibracon chocks, an adaptor plate, SKF spherical washers, an adjustment tool, foundation bolts, nuts, jack bolts and locking bolts. It is delivered as a one-box solution for trouble-free implementation, and allows for alterations and height adjustments during the installation process to achieve accurate alignment and even load distribution for optimum application support.

The new Vibracon kit also ensures compliance with resilient mount manufacturers’ installation requirements, and offers slope and angular compensation without the need for time-consuming traditional chocking methods, such as the welding of machined steel plates and the use of epoxy resins. Furthermore, as it eliminates the problems and waste associated with high temperatures, welding fumes and resins it is far cleaner than conventional chocking processes and can reduce the environmental impact of the application.

SKF experts will be available on the stand at the leading international maritime trade fair to give more information and visitors will be able to see a demonstration of Vibracon kits for resilient mounts.

The solution is available for immediate delivery.

See SKF at SMM 2016: Hall A1, stand 210

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 8, 2016, 11:00 am

Gothenburg, 8 September 2016: SKF is supplying arange of bearings, seals and linear actuation technologies forScania’s new generation of trucks. The result of over 10 years ofdevelopment, during which time SKF has worked in conjunction withScania on developing tailored solutions, these trucks lower fuelconsumption and significantly improve driver comfort.

SKF technologies can be found throughout Scania’s newgeneration of trucks. These include gearbox bearings, prop-shaftbearings and engine bearings and seals. The tailor-made winddeflector, which uses linear actuation technology to allow for easeof adjustment, is also being supplied by SKF.

SKF is also supplying updated front- and rear-wheeltruck hub units, which reduce friction by up to 30%, compared tostandard wheel bearing sets.

Stéphane Le Mounier, President, Automotive andAerospace, says: “Scania and SKF have a long history ofcollaboration and putting the drivers’ needs in focus. This is onceagain being manifested in their new generation of trucks, whichcreate a comfortable and safe workplace for drivers, whilstoffering haulage firms greater reliability and improved fuelefficiency.”        

Deliveries to Scania have already commenced.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: September 8, 2016, 6:00 am
Bearings are critical components that are used heavily in both pulping and paper production machines. Buried deep in the heart of each machine, they ensure that rotating parts move smoothly, efficiently and with minimal friction.

In many instances, bearing designs are highly specialised to meet demanding conditions; for example, operation in areas such as suction rolls where there is constant exposure to moisture, or in dryer sections with high levels of humidity and heat. Installed and maintained correctly, and protected by appropriate lubrication systems, bearings should provide a long and trouble free operating life.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to maintain bearings under ideal conditions, as bearings expert and SKF Business Unit Manager, Rudolf Groissmayr, explains. “Bearings can wear prematurely and fail unexpectedly for many different reasons. The most common causes include poor or incorrect lubrication, failed seals, misalignment of shafts, and changes in machine operating conditions. These often arise if attempts are made to increase line speeds or steam temperatures in dryers as a means of improving output; this can, however, move the bearing performance envelope outside its original specification”.

Although it’s unusual for a bearing to fail unexpectedly – the latest condition monitoring and oil analysis systems should provide sufficient advance warning to prevent such an occurrence – it is common to find bearings suffering from indentations and micro-fissures in rolling surfaces and raceways that, over time, affect the performance and efficiency of the bearings and thus of the shafts or cylinders that they support.

Ultimately, regardless of how carefully engineered, installed and maintained they are, bearings that are in constant use will eventually reach a point where they require either repair or replacement. Although there are arguments in favour of each approach, in the current economic climate, where mills face a combination of intense global competition, rising input prices, there is a strong impetus wherever possible to repair rather than replace bearings.

Rudolf Groissmayr manages one of SKF’s Industrial Service Centres, specialising in the remanufacture of bearings for the pulp and paper sector. He notes that, “One of the biggest challenges for production or maintenance engineers is minimising machine downtime. The problem with bearing replacement is that it’s often impossible to determine how damaged a bearing has become until it’s dismounted and removed from the machine, by which time of course the line has stopped. If a new bearing is required then this can be costly and, as few suppliers keep such specialised or expensive components in stock, may require a special factory order, which can take weeks or in some cases months to fulfil. The alternative is to remanufacture the bearing.”

“Remanufacture is possible in over fifty percent of applications and can normally be carried out within days and at a considerably lower cost than purchasing a new product. It is also possible to remanufacture a bearing – especially older bearings – to a higher standard of quality and performance than the original part.”

Besides productivity gains, Rudolf Groissmayr sees some real environmental benefits of remanufacturing bearings. “Not only are there real commercial and technical benefits for mill operators, there is also a powerful argument in favour of environmental sustainability, as remanufacturing uses up to 90 percent less energy than that required to produce a new component.”

The purpose of remanufacturing, however, is not generally to produce a bearing better than the original but to increase its service life.

It should be recognised that remanufacturing is an extremely demanding process that requires specialised knowledge and equipment to ensure that the bearing properties are maintained and guarantee continued reliability once the product is back in operation. “Working with a specialised supplier is essential”, says Rudolf Groissmayr. “Not only will they have the capabilities to carry out the work quickly to the highest standards, they will also be able to help a customer understand why the bearing was damaged in the first place and to assist with subsequent machine optimisation to minimise the risk of subsequent failures.”

Not all bearings are suitable for remanufacture. Those with heavy damage or fractures are generally only fit for recycling. The remanufacturing process therefore begins with an expert assessment of bearing condition, to determine both suitability for remanufacture and the type and extent of work required. An important aspect that is often overlooked is to assess bearing condition in the context of its application, taking into account the bearing load, lubrication conditions and time in operation; this enables the nature of the problem that has caused the damage to be fully understood.

A clear distinction has to be made between problems of subsurface-initiated fatigue and surface-initiated fatigue. The former describes the shear stresses that appear cyclically immediately below the load carrying surface of the rings and rolling elements. These stresses cause microscopic fissures that gradually extend to the surface and, as the rolling elements pass over these fissures, fragments of the surface material spalls or breaks away. Bearing raceways with damage caused by subsurface-initiated fatigue are not normally suitable for remanufacture, while those suffering from surface initiated fatigue can generally be restored by honing or grinding.

When a bearing arrives at an SKF remanufacturing centre, it is visually inspected and parameters such as residual magnetism and clearance are checked. The bearing is then disassembled and cleaned before the component parts are carefully inspected and their dimensions measured. This includes standard measurement of ring wall thickness and ovality, with the option of ultrasonic testing to detect subsurface micro-cracks.  Additionally, measurement of hardness, roller diameter set variation and outer dimensions can be added depending on the condition of the bearing and the criticality of the application.

This initial assessment phase is then followed by the submission of a customer report and a recommendation for further actions. The subsequent remanufacturing process is undertaken in a dedicated production facility, combining advanced automation and control systems with the engineering knowledge of experienced technicians.

The remanufacturing process is effectively divided into four categories: service level 1 (SL1) covers inspection and analysis of failures; service level 2 (SL2) covers the process of restoring bearings that have not been used but may have degraded due to lengthy or incorrect storage; service level 3 (SL3) covers the remanufacture of bearings, primarily by polishing processes, with the reuse of existing components; service level 4 (SL4) is for the extensive remanufacture of bearings requiring the replacement of components and grinding of raceways. In each case, remanufactured bearings are reassembled, quality inspected and marked for traceability before being packed and returned to the customer.

Rudolf Groissmayr believes that bearing remanufacture offers considerable advantages. “Our experience has shown that remanufacturing can help paper mills reduce their annual bearing replacement costs. This can vary, depending on the business model, but can typically be between ten and twelve percent. Just as importantly, the relatively short lead times mean that, with careful planning, bearings can be remanufactured during normal line shutdown, thereby minimising any loss of productivity. Finally, the potential energy savings also make remanufacturing an attractive option from an environmental perspective”.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 18 August 2016: At this year's InnoTrans fair, SKF will focus on reliability issues and how it can help customers to minimise their maintenance costs and frequency of maintenance operations. SKF can offer a variety of solutions that extend the maintenance interval, to support its customers in achieving their reliable performance goals.

A good example is the development of a new class of wheel tapered roller bearing units (TBUs) that are the first in the world to offer a period between overhauls that matches wheel replacement intervals, allowing the combination of wheelset and bearing overhaul in a single maintenance operation.

While standard rail bearings typically require overhaul and re-lubrication well before one million km, the new TBUs are designed to run for 1.7 million km between overhauls, matching the maintenance interval of the wheelset. This has been achieved by focusing on the factors that affect lubricant life within the bearing - most significantly cleanliness and operating temperature - and considered use of SKF's proprietary X-bite® heat treatment technology on the inner and outer bearing races.

Also showing will be the new SKF Centrifugal Lip Seal that dynamically switches between contacting and non-contacting sealing modes in wheelset bearing units. This novel design balances the trade-off between sealing function and friction torque, enabling lower temperature operation and supports extended maintenance intervals.

Other offers on show include a the SKF Baker AWA-IV traction motor test rig with customisable user interface and specialised wheel flange lubrication systems to reduce track squeal and wear.

Visitors to the InnoTrans fair (Berlin, 20th-23rd September) will find SKF in Hall 22, booth 606.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: August 18, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 16 August 2016: SKF will use the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia 2016 to demonstrate how to increase efficiency and reliability, while cutting maintenance requirements in the oil and gas sector through the use of its proven technologies and services. Visitors to the event will see how its bearings, seals and condition monitoring innovations have been specially developed to improve the performance and extend the service life of critical assets across the industry.

Among the market leading technologies to feature at the trade show will be SKF’s S2M magnetic bearings and E300V2control cabinet that allows monitoring and servicing in demanding environments, such as in gas compressors, high-speed electric motor drives and ethylene turboexpanders. Also on display will be SKF’s MBScope service software package, which offers in-depth, autonomous monitoring of critical parameters to further optimise magnetic bearing applications.

Meanwhile, SKF’s state of the art Multilog On-Line System IMx-M will be on show to demonstrate its reliability enhancing capabilities for critical offshore machinery. When used with the SKF @ptitude Monitoring Suite software, this powerful yet cost effective condition monitoring system enables end users to maximise the availability of assets and prevent downtime through early fault detection and diagnosis.

SKF will also present a range of sealing solutions from Kaydon Ring and Seal at the trade fair. These include dry gas seals, circumferential barrier seals, oil buffered seals and seal control systems that are proven to boost the resilience of turbomachinery, while minimising downtime in oil and gas applications.

SKF experts will be available in the booth at the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia, which will take place at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, to give comprehensive information and advice on its wide range of solutions.

See SKF at Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia: Booth 1510

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: August 16, 2016, 8:00 am
Pumps and fans are the foot soldiers of the process industry, but their quiet dedication means they are often ignored.

This is done at the operator’s peril, because when these components break down – or run below optimum efficiency – the whole process suffers. Manufacturing and process companies are under huge cost pressures at the moment, making it vital to maximise assets and maintain uptime.

Only recently, a processing giant was forced to run its Finnish refinery at 70% utilisation following a malfunction in one of its cooling systems. The problem is expected to cause production losses of several tens of millions of euros – which drives home the importance of the humble fan to overall profitability.

The specific refinery problem was caused by a new air cooler, which was installed during a recent maintenance turnaround – showing that even brand new components can cause problems.

If a component is malfunctioning, the temptation is simply to replace it. However, an upgrade – by relubricating, or changing a bearing set, for example – often makes more sense. Replacing a part can mean huge upheaval, as the old machine is removed and a new one installed. People underestimate how much is involved in this process. Upgrading can avoid all that – and is likely to cost less.

In fact, upgrades are a necessary part of building plant efficiency over time. When commissioning a new plant, there is rarely enough money upfront to buy the best equipment across the board. However, it can actually be better – both economically and technically – to upgrade equipment over time. It helps operators focus on equipment with reliability issues and avoids ‘design overkill’ on the original plant.

A word of warning: safety must never be compromised. Plants that are specified with too much emphasis on cost reduction run the risk of being ‘under designed’ – and that can be dangerous.

Reliability and efficiency
In most cases, pumps and fans are upgraded to improve two things: reliability or efficiency.

A good example of a pump reliability upgrade is changing the lubrication system. In hot, humid regions – or a humid environment like a pulp and paper mill – there’s always a danger of bearings corroding through water ingress. Atmospheric moisture gets into the oil sump and condense, and is transferred to the bearing by the oil rings. Just 200ppm of water in oil is enough to degrade bearings fast.

A common solution is to fit an oil mist lubrication system e.g. the SKF Alemite ones, which sprays micro-sized droplets of oil at the exact lubrication point. It guarantees fresh oil in the system and cures water ingress. This type of system is becoming more common: around half of all refineries in the US are now using oil mist systems in their pumps.

One of the most effective efficiency upgrades is to introduce a variable speed drive (VSD) to the pump or fan. Done properly, this can slash energy consumption by a huge 30%. However, the electrical output of the drive can cause arcing – which can destroy the bearing in a very short time. In extreme cases, this can happen inside three days.

The answer is to upgrade the system, most notably by fitting insulating bearings such as SKF’s Insocoat bearings (ceramic coated) or using hybrid bearings (ceramic rolling elements), which withstand electrical arcing. This is particularly important for smaller motors. Other measures – such as brushes, earthing, insulating couplings and special condition monitoring – can also help to alleviate the problem.

On the surface, it appears that introducing VSDs is adding a problem. However, the huge saving in electricity far exceeds the extra cost of fitting the VSD and upgrading the bearing system.

Fan fare
Fans have many similarities with pumps – but it’s true to say that fans often start with worse original design conditions. At SKF we have a portfolio of upgrades such as self-aligning bearing systems, fan oil lubrication systems etc. that can help to boost their efficiency and reliability. For certain types of fan, the scope for upgrade is even larger than it is for pumps.

As with pumps, VSDs can help to boost the energy efficiency of fans. Again, insulated bearings help to extend component lifetime. Another problem – far more common on fans than pumps – is misalignment. This is even more prevalent for large fans, which are commonly used in industries including pulp and paper, cement and metals processing.

An effective solution is to specify a self-aligning and axial free bearing, such as SKF CARB toroidal roller bearings. This corrects angular and axial displacement, while a standard spherical roller bearing takes the thrust loading. When upgrading, it is common to replace both standard roller bearings with the new arrangement – rather than simply inserting one self-aligning bearing.

Close monitoring
With or without an upgrade, it’s possible to further extend the lifetime of pumps and fans by keeping a close eye on them through online asset monitoring. This technique is commonly used to monitor expensive, process-critical equipment by spotting problems as they happen. For example, it can detect the tiniest changes in bearing vibration – giving an early indication of impending failure, and allowing remedial action to be taken before the problem escalates into inefficiency or even catastrophic failure.

It is usually applied to expensive machinery, but the emergence of reliable, affordable sensors – and the ability to process large amounts of data – means it can also be used with smaller equipment such as pumps and fans.

Equipping each pump or fan with sensors, including a transmitter, as done in SKF Wireless Machine Condition Sensor, allows the creation of a sensor network. Output data can regularly be analysed and acted upon. For example, sensors can identify whether cavitation is developing in a pump – allowing operators to respond to the problem by adjusting its running speed, or switching to a back-up pump. There are often hundreds of pumps in a process plant or refinery. The challenge, as always, is to process the vast amounts of data generated by the sensors.

Online monitoring can be used to nurse a ‘problem’ machine back to health – by monitoring it more frequently than similar machines. It also allows machines in hazardous areas to be monitored without endangering staff – or, at least, by minimising the number of times they have to check the machine.

That said, there are some things – such as a leaking seal, yet is a sign of impending failure – that a sensor cannot spot. In these instances, it is vital that operators make visual assessments of components and supply this information alongside the automated online data. This operator-driven reliability (ODR) is another vital factor in keeping pumps and fans running for as long as possible. Skilled operators get to know their equipment – and will spot things that even a sophisticated sensor will miss.

ODR has become popular in applications such as pump farms in refineries, and can make a huge difference in performance: at SKF, we have seen that ODR has helped increase mean time between failures (MTBF) by 15%, while decreasing maintenance costs by more than 10% in this area.

These two approaches – online monitoring and ODR – are complementary to one another, and are best used side by side. In each case, a skilled operator – one at the machine side, the other analysing process data – is using their experience to help squeeze more performance and longevity from a pump or fan.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: August 11, 2016, 8:00 am

There are many technologies available in relation to lubricants and lubrication that ensure the right amount & type of lubrication applied at the right time. However, identification of potential negative impacts on HACCP have led to the emergence of a different approach in managing lubrication proactively.

Lubrication practices are not always effective. And costs can be daunting.
As good lubrication practices are widely accepted to be fundamental to plant reliability, the question is not about re-lubricating, but about the choices made to achieve the right outcome.

How effective are your current lubrication practices?
If you are manually lubricating – do you know how much, with what and how often?
Some typical answers throughout the industry are: “I relubricate when I feel it is the right time”, “how much – depends on the size of the man using the grease gun”, “ what with – depends on what grease cartridge is in the stores”. In other words, in the food and beverage industry relubrication can be still an ad-hoc activity and not scientifically applied.

Why you should be concerned
The consequences of ineffective lubrication can be excessive downtime, high spares consumption, food and operator safety risks and ultimately an expensive toll on the maintenance budget. In other words, lubrication actions can often cause as many problems as they solve:

  • Frequent re-lubrication implies grease and labour costs, re-lubrication to purge bearing positions
  • Contamination risk: food safety can often be compromised by over-lubricating
  • Operator safety: re-lubricating in hazardous working area with difficult access. Additionally - leaking seals can cause slips and trips. The cost of absenteeism due to injuries is high
  • Resources & skills: challenge of skill level in the industry to perform the correct re-lubrication and retaining that knowledge

The industry is sending warning signs
Ever tightening industry regulations to ensure food safety are demanding different ways of managing lubrication. Very often lubrication management review is part of the HACCP certification and is checked by third party regulators, which can be employed by the producer or imposed on them by their customers, often retailers. The new Food Safety Modernisation Act (2011) for example is designed to prevent contamination in the food chain, rather than define reactive procedures for dealing with problems, once they arise.
You certainly would not wish to be one of those companies faced with a recall due to food safety issues.
As a result of safety or health recall of food product:

  • 55% would switch brands at least temporarily
  • 16% would never purchase the product again
  • 17% would avoid any product with the recalled brand (Harris Poll, 2014)

Furthermore, companies are pressured to set targets for environment and sustainability, which can be impacted by the way lubrication and relubrication is executed. Zero landfill is one of the common KPIs to follow and the trend is to change from a disposal oriented to an avoidance focused environmental strategy. (The Zero Landfill Initiative)
For example, it is common practice to re-lubricate bearings after each washdown. During this process, excess grease is dis-charged past the bearing seals (purged). This can compromise food safety, people safety and of course asset reliability. At the next wash down cycle, the grease is washed away and into the plant’s waste water.

Managing lubrication as a strategy instead of lubrication management as a practice
It is now time the food and beverage industry should reconsider the way lubrication is practiced on sites and look into alternative technologies that provide food & operator safety, optimized costs and environmental benefits in the same time.
Among the dedicated technologies available to support management of the lubrication of food and beverage processing machinery, relubrication-free bearings and advanced sealing systems have emerged as potential solutions that can mitigate against risk of food and operator safety, also avoiding excess lubricants being washed into the waste water stream or disposing of grease cleaning wipes.

Start with pro-actively assessing costs, risks, opportunities and benefits of managing lubrication
At SKF, we have found that a Technical Assessment of a production process provides the structure to readily identify potential issues, risks, opportunities and benefits in moving from current approaches. And the good news is that it does not require much of your time and from this it should be easy to plan short, medium and long term activities.

Challenge the “always done it this way”
Identification of potential negative impacts on HACCP can lead to areas for improvement where SKF offers a range of technology and service offerings dedicated to helping you manage lubrication. These cover for example

  • Re-lubrication free bearing technologies
  • High efficiency seals that keep lubricants in and contaminants out
  • Lubrication management: we can review and optimize lubrication strategy and lubrication routines in order to:
    • Apply the right amount of lubricant at the right intervals manually or through automatic systems
    • Use the right tools following the correct methods
    • Set up an appropriate training program for maintenance technicians and operators
  • SKF can also provide a smart way to detect poor lubrication condition by analyzing vibration data through ‘vibration parameters’.

There are different ways to meet this challenge - at SKF we can do more than traditional lubrication management looking only at lubricants and the way to apply them; we can bring technologies that take away the need to re-lubricate, adding value from a food safety, cost , reliability or environmental perspective. What makes the difference is our deep knowledge of rotating equipment, industry experience and commitment to reduce your cost of ownership.

Fact box 1:
“15-25% of maintenance budget is lost due to poor lubrication management” – food and beverage industry estimation

Fact box 2:
Unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees. (

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: August 3, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 25 July 2016: SKF has boosted its presence in Latin America still further, with a two-year contract to supply a wide range of bearings and support services to CMPC, one of the major Chilean pulp and paper companies.

CMPC is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of pulp, tissue, forestry and paper and packaging products. The company operates in eight countries in Latin America, employs over 17,000 people and exports to customers around the globe.

CMPC’s facilities in Latin America include extensive and sustainably managed forestry plantations, plus a range of saw, pulp, containerboard, corrugated, plywood and tissue mills. The company also has plants for moulded products and recycling, plus a paper distribution business unit.

Throughout, the focus is on quality and efficiency, with the reliability of every production system being critical. Francisco Javier Morales, Assistant Manager for Procurement at CMPC, explains, “We operate a lean business model, with all our production lines being optimised to maximise output as safely, efficiently and sustainably as possible. We therefore work closely with our suppliers to ensure that this philosophy is reflected across the supply chain and build strong relationships with strategic partners such as SKF.”

The new agreement between CMPC and SKF means that SKF will become a supplier of bearings, housings and accessories, for all of CMPC’s plants in Chile. The list of specified SKF products includes: Spherical Roller Bearings, Deep Groove Ball Bearings, Cylindrical Roller Bearings, Self-Aligning Ball Bearings and CARB Toroidal Roller Bearings, plus a variety of linear motion and sealing products.

Oscar Olivares Reyes, Key Account Manager for Pulp & Paper at SKF, highlights the fact that, “many of these products are used in extremely demanding applications, with extremes of temperature and humidity, and are installed in areas that are difficult to access. Our reputation for product quality and reliability, plus our long track record of supplying bearings to the pulp and paper sector, therefore played an important role in helping us secure the new contract.”

Francisco Javier Morales adds, “Our decision to be partner with SKF was also based on their ability to provide a range of training, technical support and consultancy services, which will help us optimise plant efficiency and reliability still further.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: July 25, 2016, 8:00 am

Gothenburg, 21 July 2016:

Alrik Danielson, President and CEO:

“Net sales in the second quarter was SEK 18.4billion. Organic sales development was in-line with ourexpectations, 4% higher than the previous quarter and 4% loweryear-over-year.

Although markets remain challenging, our costreduction initiatives, including the profit improvement programmewithin Automotive, are materializing according to plan. Thiscontrib­uted to an 11% operating margin excluding one-time items.Cash flow generation was a solid SEK 1.2 billion (excludingdivestments and acquisitions), around SEK 500 million higher thanlast year. This continued resilient performance is a sign that weare on the right track in our effort to shape SKF into beingleaner, more customer-focused and competitive.

The consolidation of three factories in NorthAmerica was announced on 9 June, including an investment of SEK 150million in manufacturing upgrades. This is the latest activity inour ongoing programme of investments in making our manufac­turingmore flexible, competitive and better suited to serve ourcustomers.

The divestments of our Kaydon velocity controland fly-by-wire businesses were completed on 30 June. As a result,we received SEK 3 125 million, which contributed positively to cashflow in the quarter. The effect on net profit was SEK -380 million,mainly related to taxes that we expect to pay in the comingquarters. In total, over SEK 4 billion has now been raised throughthe divestments of non-core businesses during the last 12months.

As we look ahead, we see signs of the marketstabilizing. Entering the third quarter of 2016, demand for SKF’sproducts and services is expected to be relatively unchangedcompared to the same period last year. Sequentially, demand isexpected to be weaker, in-line with normal seasonality.”

Key figures, SEKmQ2 2016Q2 2015YTD 2016YTD 2015
Net sales18 37019 96136 09039 415
Operating profit excl. one-time items2 0202 5773 9924 953
Operating margin excl. one-time items, %11.012.911.112.6
One-time items in operating profit-145-194-242-849
Operating profit1 8752 3833 7504 104
Operating margin, %10.211.910.410.4
Profit before taxes, excl. operating and financialone-time items1 8012 4353 5564 602
Profit before taxes1 6562 2413 3143 833
Net cash flow after investments beforefinancing4 2251 6544 7352 642
Net sales change y-o-y, %:OrganicStructureCurrencyTotal
Q2 2016-4.4-0.6-3.0-8.0
Organic sales change in local currencies, perregion y-o-y, %:EuropeNorth AmericaLatin AmericaAsiaMiddle East &Africa
Q2 20161.8-13.1-2.1-5.91.8

Outlook for the third quarter2016

Demand compared to the third quarter2015
The demand for SKF’s products and services isexpected to be relatively unchanged for the Group, including bothAutomotive and Industrial. Demand is expected to be slightly higherin Europe, relatively unchanged in Latin America, slightly lower inAsia and significantly lower in North America.

Demand compared to the second quarter2016
The demand for SKF’s products and services isexpected to be lower for the Group. Demand for Industrial isexpected to be slightly lower and demand for Automotive is expectedto be lower. Demand is expected to be relatively unchanged in LatinAmerica, slightly lower in Asia and North America and lower inEurope.

A teleconference will be held on 21July at 9:00(CEST):
SE: +46 8 5065 3936
UK: +44 20 3427 1914
US: +1 212 444 0895

You will find all information regardingthe SKF Half-year report 2016 on the Group’s IRwebsite.  

Aktiebolaget SKF

The information in this press release is informationwhich AB SKF is required to disclose under the EU Market AbuseRegulation (EU) No 596/2014 and pursuant to the Securities MarketsAct. The information was provided by the above contact persons forpublication on 21 July 2016 at 8:00 CEST

Posted: July 21, 2016, 6:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 19 July 2016: SKF has received an American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) Supplier Recognition Award for the contribution its specialised bearings and seals have made to the firm’s success. Accepting the global accolade for the first time, SKF was one of three companies to be honoured as part of AAM’s 22nd Annual Supplier Day at its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

SKF was selected to receive the award for its outstanding quality products, technology leadership, customer service and cost competitiveness. It currently supports AAM globally with multiple types of seals and bearings included in driveline and drivetrain systems for multiple product families.

Jake Stiteler, executive director, Global Procurement for AAM, who presented the award to SKF, said: “AAM's supplier community plays a critical role in our mission to provide our customers with high-quality, highly advanced products. SKF played a key part in AAM's success over the last year and we will continue to look to them and our other suppliers to help us exceed our customers' expectations in the future.”

Stiteler added that SKF had differentiated itself from the rest of the suppliers and highlighted as an example its prompt yet effective delivery of a unitized seal for a power transfer unit, developed by SKF China in just three months, meeting the requirements of a challenging application.

Gregg Rasmussen, President Automotive Sealing Solutions at SKF, said: “We are honoured to receive this global award for the first time and it is an excellent testament to the hard work we have put into making the partnership with AAM an extremely successful one. We look forward to continuing to build on that relationship to further support AAM in serving its customers and meeting its business objectives.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: July 19, 2016, 12:00 pm

Gothenburg, 6 July 2016: The SKF Group will publishits results for the second quarter on 21 July 2016 and welcomesinvestors, analysts and members of the media to take part in aconference call, which will be held in English, at 09:00 (CET),08:00 (UK time).

As previously announced, SKF’s segment reporting willchange as of the second quarter 2016. The Group’s segment reportingwill be specified into Automotive and Industrial. Restated figuresfor 2014, 2015 and Q1 2016 are available on:

To join the conference call, please dial-in using thefollowing details at least 10 minutes

before the start of the call:
SE: +46 8 5065 3936
UK: +44 20 3427 1914
US: +1 212 444 0895

Please inform the operator that you wish to take partin the SKF conference call.

The SKF Group's results for the second quarter 2016will be published around 08:00 (CET).

All information regarding the results will be madeavailable on the Group’s website:

Media: To book interviews with Alrik Danielson andChristian Johansson after the conference call, please contact TheoKjellberg on / +46 725 77 65 76.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: July 6, 2016, 1:30 pm

Gothenburg, 30 June 2016: SKF has completed thepreviously announced divestments of its fly-by-wire business toLORD Corporation and its Kaydon velocity control business toStabilus.

The total consideration of the fly-by-wire divestmentis EUR 39 million. The total consideration of the Kaydon velocitycontrol divestment is USD 339 million. Both transactions are on acash- and debt-free basis.  The cash flow impact from thesetwo divestments, net after tax payment, is estimated at around SEK2 800 million. The net income effect is estimated at around SEK-350 million, which refer primarily to tax costs. These will beaccounted for during Q2 2016.

The fly-by-wire business, which manufactures cockpitcontrol systems, sensors, dampers and electromechanical actuatorshad annual sales in 2015 of EUR 37 million, and 150 employees.

The Kaydon velocity control business, which includesthe ACE, Hahn Gasfedern, Fabreeka and TechProducts brands, hadsales in 2015 of approximately USD 120 million and 550employees.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: June 30, 2016, 6:10 pm
Both speed and precision are desirable attributes for the bearings used in spindles for machine tooling applications. High-speed capability and accuracy are significant factors also for woodworking and other ‘soft material’ industries.

Add the increasing pressures of a globalised market – productivity, efficiency, competition – and the buyers of bearings for electrospindles are eager for ways to improve quality without increasing costs.

SKF is a major supplier of bearings for HSD, one of the world’s leading producers of electrospindles for woodworking applications. As such, SKF decided to work with its long-time customer to develop a new series of bearings that would meet the needs of its client and the industry as a whole. HSD (the name stands for “high speed development”), located in Pesaro, Italy, represents 60 per cent of the world market for electrospindles for light applications, and, as such, is the industry’s point of reference.

HSD and SKF have been collaborating since 1992, when the former was founded. SKF provides a bearing not only for HSD’s spindles but across the customer’s product range, including boring heads, 5-axis heads, and aggregates. From the outset, the Italian company was drawn by SKF’s reputation for quality and its technical support, as well as the breadth and depth of SKF’s assortment of super-precision bearings.

So in 2012, Mario Mattia, SKF Sales Manager Machine tools Italy, and Massimo Sandri, SKF Account Manager Machine tools Italy, sat down with the managers of HSD to define the requisites for a new competitive bearing specifically for woodworking sector spindles. “Our challenge was to develop a standardised product that would satisfy the requirements of different clients. We realised it was a demanding task,” says Mattia. SKF also talked with the technical offices of other clients to define the main requirements of spindles dedicated to this application. The next six months were devoted to internal development and testing.

By 2013, SKF was ready to supply prototypes to HSD. “We got it right the first time because HSD was fully convinced after testing the prototypes,” reports Mattia with satisfaction. By mid 2014, SKF was supplying a series range of bearings and at the end of the year it signed an 18-month contract with HSD.

SKF had developed what is now the S70 .. W series -- sealed super-precision hybrid angular contact ball bearings for woodworking applications.
“Listening our customers’ needs, we found that an18° contact angle was the optimized solution,” notes Sandri.
The bearing was also designed to deliver accurate preload, prior to mounting, equal to zero and is available in a range from 25 to 55 mm shaft diameter.
Furthermore, the solution has an optimised PEEK cage with patented design that reduces noise and vibration, especially at low to medium speeds. It combines very high stability at low/medium speeds with the ability to accommodate very high speeds (speed factor A = 1.6 million n dm ).
“As a result, the client perceives a better-running product,” Mattia points out.

The rolling elements are made of bearing grade silicon nitride Si3N4 and rings of bearing steel. These hybrid bearings offer higher speed capability, more rigidity, less energy consumption, reduced frictional heat, reduced centrifugal and inertial forces within the bearing. They are also less prone to damage in situations of rapid starts and stops.
The bearings have non-contact seals fitted on both sides and are filled with premium grease. These sealed bearings have been filled with the appropriate amount of high-quality grease under exacting conditions at the SKF factory. The seals hold the lubricant inside so the client can use the bearings directly without having to lubricate. Therefore mounting time for the client is faster. This feature also avoids possible contamination or introduction of impurities and has been so well received that, according to Mattia, other clients who had not previously considered sealed bearings are now using them. special packaging with 15 bearings per box. The result is less handling and materials disposal for the client, and easier logistics for both supplier and customer.

Reactions of the market launch of the SKF S 70 .. W series have been very positive, with clients enthusiastic about the performance of the bearings. “At SKF, we are aware of the ever-increasing demands on spindle applications in the workplace. With that in mind, we developed this new cost-effective bearing series that offers high-speed capabilities together with lower sound and vibration levels ” notes Sandri.

Meanwhile, both speed and precision continue as change agents in the partnership between SKF and HSD. The two companies have begun discussions on bringing intelligence into HSD spindles through SKF bearings.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 23, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 21 June 2016: SKF is sparking conversation and spreading ideas with a new series of a knowledge-sharing symposium called “Let’s Talk”. Industry experts are discussing industry trends such as Digitalization, Industry Ecology and Counterfeiting in front of a live audience at leading universities.

The latest “Let’s Talk” event focuses on Smart Robotics and how it will affect the factory of the future. Speakers are Danica Kragic, Professor for Computer Science, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH; Daniel Wäppling, Head of Product Architecture, ABB Robotics and Roberto Napione, Head of Machine Centre of Excellence, SKF.

“Pushing innovation with smart robots, which are able to assemble bearings in different sequences will improve the industry’s operational efficiency and reduce maintenance times, says Roberto Napione, SKF. “However, the robot itself will not be enough. It needs to be integrated into a smart, Big Data environment within the factory. In this regard, smart robots will not necessarily reduce jobs, but rather transform them. In the future, we will see factories with people who are collaborating with robots, building environments, conditions and software between them.

The recorded symposiums are available on SKF’s YouTube channel. Further information can also be found on our website: or by following the hashtag #LetsTalkSmartRobotics across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

More “Let’s Talk” videos will be published in the upcoming months.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 21, 2016, 8:00 am

Gothenburg, 21 June 2016: SKF has signed contracts worth over SEK 1 billion with Rolls-Royce to supply main shaft bearings for their new gas turbine engine programmes.

SKF’s main shaft bearings will be used in a number of Rolls-Royce engines, including the Trent XWB gas turbine engine. The Trent XWB is the sixth generation of the Trent family of engines, designed specifically for the Airbus A350 XWB family of aircraft.

Rutger Barrdahl, head of SKF’s aerospace business, says: “We are able to provide Rolls-Royce with the long-term capacity, security of supply and commitment to invest in product development that meet their needs and match our own ambitions within world-class manufacturing.”

Deliveries for the new engine programmes have commenced and are expected to reach their full rate by 2018.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: June 21, 2016, 6:30 am
Gothenburg, 20 June 2016: SKF has secured a three-year contract with Compañia Minera Antamina S.A. (Antamina), to provide Proactive Reliability Maintenance services at the company’s open-pit copper mine in Peru. Antamina is jointly owned by BHP Billiton, Glencore, Teck and Mitsubishi Corporation, who have jointly invested over USD 3.5 billion in the site, making it one of the largest mining investments in Peru’s history.

John Schmidt, President, Industrial Sales, Americas, says: “For mine operators, many of which are located in remote areas, critical equipment failure can be very costly. By applying our knowledge within the fields of tribology, vibrational analysis and thermography, we are able to support Antamina in reducing the risk of reoccurring failures, contributing to improved machine efficiency.”

SKF’s Proactive Reliability Maintenance services will apply best practice predictive maintenance activities, including non-destructive testing of critical mining and plant equipment, to diagnose the root causes of failures at the Antamina mine. Together with Antamina’s own maintenance teams, SKF will then take the necessary steps to help eliminate reoccurrences by, for example, adjusting lubrication use, shaft alignment and seals or bearing selection.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 20, 2016, 6:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 16 June, 2016: At ONS 2016, the offshore exhibition and conference in Stavanger, Norway, SKF will highlight a broad range of offerings that can boost reliability and efficiency in the onshore and offshore sector – ranging from bearings and seals for top drives, through to improved maintenance solutions.

SKF Enlight is a data collection, analysis and support system that will help energy companies move their paper-based maintenance processes online. Available as a mobile device app, it simplifies inspection by connecting to a wide variety of sensors. Once collected, process data – along with photos and video – can be wirelessly uploaded directly to the SKF cloud and analysed.

On show at ONS will be an innovative design of tapered roller thrust bearing (TRThB), designed to significantly improve the reliability of top drive systems. The TRThB has been developed using a new generation of advanced simulation technology, which has enabled SKF to optimise the internal geometry of the bearing.  Combined with a new type of cage, modified roller design and the use of specially machined bearing surfaces, this has reduced friction to a minimum, helped to extend lubrication life, even under extreme temperatures, and increased the load rating and shock resistance. SKF anticipates that the new TRThB will help to extend the operating life of top drives, while reducing operating costs.

SKF has also developed a special seal that can be more easily installed in wellheads. The Locking T-seal – patented by SKF,– has a small ‘notch’ that ensures correct installation and reduces the chance of it being damaged. The product is now being validated for full use in the oil and gas industry.  Other seals from the SKF range being shown at ONS 2016 include a new range of S and FS seals, which are fully validated to the API 6A-17D standards necessary for use in wellheads.

Other highlights at ONS include SKF’s latest S2M active magnetic bearings using the same technology as in the first ever subsea compressor project. These contact-free devices are powered by advanced electromagnets, which generate radial and axial forces to levitate a central shaft and allow it to rotate without friction. An integrated control system actively monitors and continuously adjusts the current to maintain shaft position. This creates a device that offers exceptionally high levels of precision and stability, even at extreme speeds, making it ideal for demanding offshore applications (offshore, subsea, onshore). Thanks to SKF’s experience with over 1000 units installed, Statoil confidently specified SKF S2M active magnetic bearings for their Åsgard subsea gas compression system, which is now operating 300m below the surface of the North Sea.

Also on show will be SKF slewing bearings, (including Kaydon) and a new sensor bearing unit.

The SKF MTE-324T slewing ring bearings are used in top drives and other applications, from cranes to riser connections, and feature a 4-point contact design. This adjusts for radial, axial and moment loads and features integral seals to resist contamination and extend service life.

The new sensor bearing unit is designed to cut downtime by improving the monitoring and control of electric motors, which work in extreme conditions. The new unit uses rugged speed sensor technology, incorporated into a simple unitised assembly, to enable it to easily retrofitted in the field to top drives or drawworks machines.

ONS 2016 takes place at the Stavanger Forum in Stavanger, Norway on 29 August – 1 September 2016. Visitors to the event will find SKF at Booth 960.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 16, 2016, 11:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 16 June, 2016: SKF will launch two new products at the SMM show while showcasing a wide range of its latest offerings for the maritime sector.

The first new launch is a redesigned Simplex Intermediate shaft bearing, which can be mounted on SKF Vibracon chocks – self-leveling, height-adjustable and reusable chocks that are used for mounting all types of rotating or critically aligned machinery.

Simplex Intermediate shaft bearings have a short shell length, and can be aligned precisely in order to avoid edge loading. They were specifically developed for shaft line of ship propulsion systems. This latest version has a new housing design which features reduced weight and compactness for easy installation and maintenance.

The second launch is the Dynamic Stabilizer Cover (DSC), which closes the hull of the SKF retractable fin stabilizers. The DSC comprises of two inflatable cushions fixed to the stabilizer fin box. If the stabilizer is not in use, the cushions are inflated by high-pressure air in order to close the hull. This improves flow profile and reduces fuel consumption. To bring the stabilizers into use, the cushions are deflated – allowing the fin stabilizer to move past – and then re-inflated, to re-close the hull.

Other new products that SKF has launched during the year and that will be on show at SMM include the Turbulo Sludge Buoy – a mechanical device that separates oil and water, eliminating manual drainage. Also on show is the SKF Marine Condition Monitoring Route Kit– a sophisticated condition monitoring and condition-based maintenance solution that has cloud connectivity to cut downtime and boost fleet reliability. Furthermore, the company will present its environmental monitoring system that ensures compliance to environmental regulations by storing and mapping the ships emission data - SKF BlueMon.

Many of these and other exhibits will be backed by case studies, to better illustrate how they can help fulfil customer needs.

See SKF at SMM 2016: Hall A1, stand 210

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 16, 2016, 8:00 am

Gothenburg, 9 June 2016: SKF today announces theconsolidation of its manufacturing facilities in North America,including the closure of its sites in San Diego, California andBaltimore, Maryland. 

Restructuring costs are expected to amount to aroundSEK 300 million, of which around SEK 100 million will be accountedfor during Q2 2016 and the remainder as they occur.  Theconsolidation is expected to generate full year cost savings ofaround SEK 220 million from 2019, whereof around SEK 70 million isexpected to be achieved in 2018.

Luc Graux, President, Bearing Operations, says:“These activities will strengthen our position in North America,making us more competitive and better able to support ourcustomers, by improving the utilisation of our manufacturingassets.  They also provide the foundation for investments inthe further development of our manufacturing processes andtechnologies.”

Production will be transferred from the Group’s sitein Hanover, Pennsylvania, to Flowery Branch, Georgia. Takingcustomer commitments into account, the move will consolidateproduction of spherical roller bearings and large size rollerbearings into our existing bearing manufacturing operations inFlowery Branch. With a stronger, more efficient manufacturing base,the Group will be better able to serve its North Americancustomers.

Production of rings and seals for the aerospaceindustry will be relocated to Hanover from SKF’s existing factoryin Baltimore, Maryland, which will be closed.  Discussionsover the effects this will have on employees in Hanover andBaltimore will occur with their respective employeerepresentatives.

Investments totalling SEK 150 million will be made inupgrading machinery and manufacturing processes in Hanover andFlowery Branch, part of the Group’s strategy to implementworld-class manufacturing technologies.

Manufacturing and development of condition monitoringsolutions will be moved from SKF’s existing site in San Diego,California, to other sites in Europe. This will enable the Group tooffer customers better condition monitoring solutions, faster, asthe development team will be centralised in the same region, closeto the rest of SKF’s technical competence centres across Europe. Atechnical support team will remain in San Diego, but in a separatefacility. 

The Y-Bearing and Units production channels inPuebla, Mexico, which serve North American customers within theagriculture segment, will be closed, with production transferred toother SKF sites.

Consolidation of the sites in Hanover, FloweryBranch, Baltimore and San Diego is expected to take approximately18-24 months. The closure of the Y-Bearing and Units productionchannels in Puebla, Mexico is expected to be completed during thesummer of 2016.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: June 9, 2016, 2:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 9 June, 2016: Ships were once meant solely for the seas and major maintenance was resigned to the docks. However, digital technology is making waves in the marine sector and as such, the concept of taking a ship 'online' – by making its on-board data available to onshore experts – is becoming ever more common.  The thrust for this change is down to a need to achieve improvements in three critical areas: maintenance, environmental performance and safety.

Take the example of cruise ship operator Costa Group. Its fleet operation centre (FOC), which opened recently in Hamburg, Germany, acts as a central information hub for 26 of its cruise vessels. The FOC, which operates around the clock, is staffed by 14 specialists who receive data directly from the vessels and analyse it accordingly.

While other ship operators run similar operations, Costa Group's FOC is the most well known, and is technically very advanced. It is a fantastic advertisement for the importance of on-board data monitoring.

CM systems

Condition Monitoring (CM) is concerned with maintenance, and is already widely used in shipping. SKF has installed its CM systems in more than 600 vessels. However, the vast majority of these use standalone software installed on the ship: crewmembers check bearings, for example, and then decide if any action is needed. They will typically gather data using hand-held portable devices. While they have access to onshore expertise, these are not 'connected' systems.

The cloud based equivalent monitors machinery with fixed sensors, whose signals are beamed wirelessly to a central onshore facility – similar to the FOC – where experts can give guidance on how best to maintain particular machines or components.

In general, the industry has been slow to move towards 'connected' CM systems. There is a level of discomfort for crewmembers, for instance, who feel that management would be 'looking over their shoulders'. For smaller ship owners, there is an added complexity of managing such an operation.

However, there are drivers for change. One is the perennial problem of cost. The shipping industry is under huge cost pressure, and dry dock maintenance forms a large part of this. Proper implemented Condition Based Maintenace (CBM) combined with state of the art CM can help to extend the period between these expensive maintenance exercises. SKF already has approvals for thruster monitoring system– which now need maintaining every 7.5 years rather than every five years.

Environmental importance

Similar systems are also available to monitor crucial environmental data: SKF's BlueMon, for instance, helps crews cope with fast-changing environmental regulations. Rules for the Atlantic Ocean are different to those for the Baltic Sea, so sailing between them can mean that operations must be changed. A good example is bilge water: discharges into the Baltic are under stricter control than they are for the Atlantic – so an online, connected system like BlueMon helps to prevent 'illegal' discharges.

Far from undermining the crew, BlueMon can help them meet their responsibilities. It overlays a GPS map of the world with details of the latest local regulations – and can even disable the bilge water output valve if necessary.

An online system can also provide hidden benefits: by knowing the time of the next docking slot, for example, a ship can slow down – and use less fuel – rather than steaming into port and waiting hours for the next slot.

Future trends

Within 10 years, it's likely that every major ship owner will be using some kind of 'global' online system. They will have the necessary size to manage the complexity of these systems, but will also reap the benefits: spotting how one ship saves fuel could be transferred to the entire fleet. Most smaller players are still likely to choose cloud based systems, and use handheld data gathering equipment.

It's still early days for online CM in the shipping industry, so SKF does not yet have a dedicated 'central control room' for ships – but we do have one for offshore wind turbines. Located in Hamburg, it is staffed by five people and looks after 140 turbines worldwide.

There are two main differences between ships and wind turbines: because turbines are stationary, data can be transferred via cable (rather than needing satellite connectivity); and the operating conditions on-board ship can be far more complex depending of number of units to be monitored and operation condition of these.

However, with using a smart system of pre-evaluation of the data onboard by available software and thereby minimising the data volume ship owners have to control, and subsequently lowering the cost for the needed satellite connectivity, in the end there is no real difference (technically or cost-wise) between Remote Diagnostic Systems for Offshore Windmills or ships sailing the seven seas.

Once the shipping industry has a critical mass in the use on online CBM, SKF expects to be providing its own 'Fleet Support Center'' to maintain the health of critical components on-board ship.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 9, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 9 June, 2016: SKF has launched a sophisticated condition monitoring system with cloud connectivity to cut downtime and increase fleet reliability through enabling predictive maintenance in the marine sector. Introduced to the market for the first time at Posidonia 2016, the SKF Marine CM Route Kit, includes all the tools needed to implement reliable condition monitoring techniques onboard ships and allows operators to adopt an integrated approach to condition based maintenance on their entire fleet.

The kit, which includes the SKF Microlog handheld monitoring device and dedicated marine software with marine typical equipment models, can be used on all kind of vessels, as well as offshore platforms to collect data on machine and component condition. For each asset it will gauge the overall vibration levels and will be able to identify possible issues, such as imbalance, misalignment, wear, mechanical looseness, and bearing and gear faults

The measurement data is securely transferred via satellite to the SKF One Global Cloud, where SKF’s Condition Monitoring (CM) expert remote diagnostic team can retrieve and analyse the assets data as part of its maintenance consulting services. Furthermore all data can easily be accessed by the chief engineer and fleet manager, closing the loop and involving the crew in the Condition-based maintenance process.

The SKF CM expert analysis output are the recommended actions of needed maintenance which are sent to the chief engineer to take the appropriate actions and to keep the assets running smooth and efficiently.

By introducing long term monitoring and machine efficiency evaluation techniques, the SKF Marine CM Route Kit allows industry professionals to adopt a centralised predictive maintenance programme across their entire fleets. Through the detection of the machine conditions that lead to failure, proactive remedial work can be carried out to extend maintenance intervals, eliminate potential breakdowns and ensure consistently high operational safety, while also enhancing service life and reducing repair costs considerably. In addition, it is possible to coordinate the service and spare parts supply to generate further cost savings.

See SKF at Posidonia 2016: Hall 2, stand 2.409

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 9, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 9 June, 2016: SKF’s industry leading technologies and design engineering support are helping to enhance the reliability and reduce the life cycle cost of propulsion units that will drive the most powerful liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers in the world. The Azipod® propulsion units, developed by ABB, are being installed on the 170,000-cubic metre ice-breaking LNG tankers that will be used as part of the Yamal project to open up gas from the Yamal peninsula and transport it to Asia and Europe.

The project, which will see the first vessels commissioned in South Korea in 2016, is expected to produce 16.5 million metric tonnes of LNG per year. However, this does not come without its own unique set of challenges as the Yamal peninsula is located inside the Arctic Circle and is locked in ice for most of the year. Indeed, the remote and fragile environment will be extremely harsh and calls only for machinery and components that are rugged enough to keep going in severe operating conditions at all times throughout the year.

Consequently, ABB Marine chose to work with SKF on the development of its Azipod propulsion units for 10 LNG carriers because of its application engineering expertise, particularly in demanding applications, and proven reliable innovations. Included in SKF’s offering are custom made thrust bearing arrangements, which incorporate housing and seals, and high performance self-aligning CARB toroidal roller bearings for the propeller shafts. By implementing such products, ABB was able to build in superior operating reliability with a long service life. SKF has a successful background of more than 10 years of engineering and delivering units for ice going projects which still today are in service.

In addition, SKF is providing assembly and installation supervision in the ABB Marine factory.

Sami Kontturi, Project Manager at SKF, said: “We are privileged to be lending our expertise and state of the art technologies to one of the largest industrial undertakings in the Arctic. With our engineering support and products we can help ABB and its Azipod propulsion units to deliver enhanced performance and efficiency on the LNG carriers as the Yamal project takes a great step forward in the global search for natural resources.”

In addition to the bearing arrangements supplied for the Yamal vessels, SKF has also delivered Turbulo Bilge water separators and SKF BlueMon, an environmental monitoring system for recording and mapping ship emissions.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: June 9, 2016, 8:00 am
The oil and gas sector is under pressure to maintain operating margins. Oil prices have fallen dramatically in the last twelve months, mainly driven by over-supply. This has been due to a range of factors including new reservoir discoveries and drilling techniques, the shale fracking boom, weakness in major economies, growing availability of alternative energy sources and the introduction of ever more efficient combustion engines in cars, trucks and industrial and power generation plants.

Although the market for natural gas is slightly healthier, here too there is growing concern as short term supply is likely to exceed demand, with industry analysts predicting only modest annual growth of 2.4% to 2018 .

Continuing volatility across the supply chain seems likely to become the norm in the immediate future. Companies therefore need to prepare for uncertainty, adapting their operations to become increasingly agile while developing improved methods to derive maximum value from existing and future investments in extraction, refining and distribution systems and equipment.

Asset Management & cost optimization
The oil and gas sector has from the early days of volume production and commercialization led the world in the use of predictive and preventative maintenance, developing models followed by many other sectors of industry. These techniques have been used as key tools to improve plant and process safety, efficiency and optimization and have underpinned the growth of a new discipline of asset management.

Asset management is based on a strategic assessment that identifies plant improvement opportunities based on criticality and then defines and applies the most appropriate solutions. The objective is to incorporate business goals, application challenges and organizational culture into a road map that improves the reliability, performance and functionality of all operational extraction, process and distribution assets. A methodology of Asset Efficiency Optimization (AEO) is then applied to ensure that every asset is utilized as efficiently as possible, to maximize output without increasing capital expenditure, while reducing overall maintenance and operational costs.

A successful asset management program depends on a clearly defined strategy. This has to be driven by business goals, starting with an understanding of the current situation and a vision of where the business needs to be to achieve optimum performance.

Ref: PWC

This can be a difficult process to manage due to the complexity of the production and management systems found in many large, multi-site, multi-national oil and gas businesses. The starting point is generally to carry out a client needs analysis (CNA). This is based on a straightforward 40 question survey to provide a snapshot of the operation of each production facility, map the way in which its reliability processes are functioning and its position on the maintenance maturity continuum, benchmarked against industry averages and best practices. (see fig 1).

Once complete, the CNA provides the key data to draw up a detailed AEO plan to improve plant reliability and asset utilization. This work management procedure addresses four key areas: maintenance strategy, work identification, work control and work execution, providing an integrated methodology that reflects the unique processes, culture and technology at each facility or operation.

Taking a structured approach to asset management will be familiar to many companies in the oil and gas sector, especially larger organizations. However, what tends to occur is that over time carefully planned long term asset management programs become disrupted, due to financial restrictions, plant updates, company acquisitions, changes in regulations or the launch of new products. As a result, the viewpoint of managers and engineers becomes focused on short term internal issues, pushing longer term plans down the order of priority.

It’s also worth noting that although many companies in the sector have extremely effective asset management and plant reliability processes, these are not always systemized. Information and knowledge has been gained by plant engineers and operators over many years and remains largely locked in their heads, with only a small proportion being recorded and catalogued in a way that can easily be assimilated by new employees or third party contractors

A CNA analysis is a simple method of beginning the process, and can lead to the next phase, called an SKF Streamlined Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) project, where it is possible to begin capturing much of this valuable information in a way that is meaningful to plant engineers and senior managers alike.

Long term vision
The scale and complexity of most oil and gas operations means that to be truly successful an asset management strategy requires a clear vision and a long term tactical implementation plan. Anything less will almost certainly lead to an increase in operating costs, with the risk of growing levels of equipment downtime and system unreliability.

The growing market volatility and pressure on margins, combined with factors such as staff and skills shortages, and the particular demands of managing and maintaining oil and gas process systems, means that effective asset management can be a tough challenge.  For many businesses, partnering with an experienced, knowledgeable and specialized partner such as SKF provides a far more cost-effective option. Outsourcing all or strategic parts of the process can deliver greater flexibility, accountability and control; it can also relieve the pressure on existing resources, for example, freeing internal engineering teams to concentrate on other business-critical activities.

One organization that has decided to outsource its asset management process by partnering with SKF is a major US oil and gas pipeline transportation company.  The business operates over 12,000 miles of pipeline, 150 main pumping stations and a number of key distribution terminals at railheads, ports and road hubs. Over a ten-year period, however, the company has undergone several mergers and changes in ownership. Senior managers recognized that this had led to a gradual loss of focus on machine reliability, with inconsistent practices and methods of operation across the pipeline and distribution network; they also understood that the company’s predictive maintenance strategy required a complete revaluation but that the business lacked the necessary in-house resources to carry this out effectively.

Commissioned to carry out a CNA study and then to provide condition monitoring services using our network of field based service technicians to assess the status of around 700 pipeline assets across North America.

We later began investigating the most valuable assets, primarily at a number of key distribution terminals, focusing on critical systems and equipment. An important element in this procedure was the use of SKF’s RCM techniques. These concentrated on dominant failure modes and the effects of these failures; we then recommended specific actions to prevent problems reoccurring. Non-critical events were also evaluated and appropriate actions taken to optimize maintenance costs and increase productivity. The same approach is now being applied to the pipeline network of pumping stations.

SKF subsequently worked with the customer to begin developing standard job plans, which defined the critical steps that were required for each monitoring and maintenance activity, for example the repair of pump motors, including a list of the tools and parts needed, the repair steps involved and the time and resources required. This plan will be extended still further with a spare parts and stores optimization program (SPO), which minimizes stockholding and costs while improving the availability and location of key components to ensure that repairs are carried out quickly and cost-effectively.

This strategic approach to asset management has had both short and long term benefits for the customer. Outsourcing the management of condition monitoring services, paid for via an agreed monthly management fee, has allowed our customer to move the costs from CAPEX to OPEX budgets, making it far easier to cost-justify the program and improve cash-flow. Our strategic approach to asset management provides a clearly defined and consistent operating methodology that can easily be adapted as the needs of the customer’s business or the operating environment change, giving them a solution that is both secure and future-proof. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve delivered savings of over $1million in the first twelve months of the contract, through improved asset uptime and productivity, and reduced repair and maintenance costs. Savings that far outweigh the annual cost of the service contract.

Experience, knowledge & resources
Outsourcing is becoming increasingly common across industry, for core business services ranging from facilities management to logistics and IT. For companies in the oil and gas sector the challenge in outsourcing the management of mission and safety critical assets is finding a partner with the requisite knowledge, experience and global resources to provide the reassurance that each and every asset will be monitored and maintained to the highest standards at all times.

Major suppliers such as SKF are able to provide this reassurance. Just as importantly, as they have specific and specialized skills in the field of asset management, condition monitoring and preventative maintenance, they are able to deliver better results, faster and more efficiently than a comparable in-house function. An outsourced asset management partner adds an extra strategic dimension to the work of in-house maintenance and engineering teams, and can bring a fresh passion and sense of purpose. Ultimately, the outcome should be operational efficiencies, cost savings and improving levels of asset optimization that allows oil and gas companies to become increasingly agile in response to growing market volatility. At a recent program review meeting with the pipeline customer, a stakeholder applauded the fact that no asset under the SKF monitoring program had experienced a failure that could have been detected in 3 years. One of their seasoned rotating equipment specialists commented that “I can’t remember a contract or working relationship with a vendor that has been this close-knit. This reinforces the concept that success is not just about technology, but more about the people, their experience, their commitment personally and as part of a team.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: May 19, 2016, 8:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 5 May, 2016: In the oil and gas industry, reliability is key to success. Unexpected downtime due to machinery or component failure results in massive cost both onshore and offshore sectors.

US regulations require that equipment used in the oil and gas industry is maintained every five years. Operators in the industry wish that their equipment would last this long: because of the punishing conditions and extreme environment, servicing is required long before the five-year period is up. Most often, after a few years only an overhaul is needed.

SKF has optimized a number of its products to make them appropriate for use in the oil and gas industry. One recent example is an improved tapered roller thrust bearing for top drives, which can help to prolong service intervals and save money.

The top drive – a critical mechanism that forms part of a drilling rig, generates enormous forces. As a consequence, the main internal thrust bearings must withstand extreme conditions: high shock loads, axial loads and possible shaft and housing deflections. At the same time, the combination of heavy loads and low speeds at extreme temperatures pushes the lubrication conditions to the limit –leading to faster wear.

SKF’s redesigned tapered roller thrust bearings can better overcome the above problems, helping to improve the performance and reliability of top drives. This is all the more important, considering that drill rigs are drilling deeper than ever before, putting higher demands on the equipment. One of the main causes of failure is excessive shock loads on the gearbox – and that is what the new bearing is designed to resist.

Outward appearance

There is no outward difference in the bearing’s appearance. In fact, it will look very similar to many competitive products. However, the devil is in the detail: advanced simulation helped SKF to fine-tune the internal geometry, giving the bearing the highest possible load rating.

One element is a new cage design. Using a pin-type cage – rather than a standard brass cage – allows more rollers to fit within the bearing, and thus withstand a greater load. That said, many customers will be fine with a brass cage – as the pin-type cage will be for extreme applications.

Other key design changes include optimising the logarithmic profile, which balances load distribution along each roller. At the same time, rollers are designed to be virtually identical to one another – reducing stress peaks on single rollers, as well as cutting noise and vibration.

While design changes were the key factor behind the performance of the new bearing, some manufacturing changes were also crucial. Enhancing the surface finish by using a different type of coating can help the bearing withstand the effect of marginal lubrication in extreme operating conditions. Drilling often takes place at -40 degrees C (-40F), which can cause the lubricant to thicken. This, combined with high loads, can affect correct lubrication – leading to bearing damage. The advanced surface finish maximizes the effect of the lubricant, reducing excessive friction and damage to the bearing contacts.

It’s important to note that the improved performance is achieved using standard quality SKF steel. For similar performance improvements, competitors are forced to use enhanced material specifications.

SKF has spent significant amount of time developing the new bearing design. It began by analysing SKF bearings that had been used in the field, in an attempt to understand – and overcome – any wear patterns that it found on them. Later, improved designs were modelled using simulation software. The optimized and improved design was validated by simulation tools and field tests.

In addition to these new tapered roller thrust bearings, SKF will showcase two other important bearing innovations at OTC 2016: Kaydon slewing ring bearings; and a sensor bearing unit. Both are appropriate for use in top drives.

Its Kaydon slewing ring bearings can be used in the pipe handling system that is fixed to the bottom of the gearbox of the top drive. Many OEMs save money by making a ‘tailor made’ version using a standard bearing and adding some tooth gears. A better solution is to use a slewing ring bearing with integrated gear, which can help cut failures in the pipe handler.

At the same time, its sensor bearing unit can be used in the top drive’s motor. The product was originally used in the railway industry, but has been adapted for oil and gas – including a version for top drives.. The single unit replaces a bearing and an encoder – and is thus more compact and robust.

Top drives are a critical part of any oil and gas operation, and anything that can improve them – such as these bearing innovations – will help to cut downtime and boost reliability.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: May 5, 2016, 12:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 5 May, 2016: Today’s oil and gas industry is facing many challenges, including lower oil prices and environmental issues that are forcing companies to look into alternative methods of extraction. Many companies are recognising the need to innovate and are investing in long-term solutions.

Energy company Statoil is one of these innovative companies. It has understood the importance of being at the forefront of technology for cost cutting, environmental reasons and its long-term survival. “We realised that we needed to think differently when it came to the technology and turn every stone to bring down costs and cut our CO2 emissions,” says Torstein Vinterstø, Statoil’s Project Director for Åsgard.

For years Statoil has been working on the technology behind the world’s first-ever subsea gas compression system. In September 2015, it lowered its Åsgard subsea gas compression system in the North Sea, making it possible to recover more gas from the offshore fields up to unprecedented ratios.

Traditionally, gas compression takes place on platforms or onshore, quite a distance from the source. Locating a compressor as close to the well as possible offers a cheaper and more energy efficient alternative. It saves space, cuts down on maintenance and because it is unmanned and can be operated remotely, it removes the need for constant supervision and personnel.

The subsea gas compression system is located on the seabed in the Åsgard gas field 300 metres deep in the North Sea. Recovery from Åsgard’s two reservoirs, Midgard and Mikkel, will increase by at least 20 per cent, adding more than 300 million barrels of oil equivalents to the field’s output. The solution will significantly prolong the lifetime of the field’s production. Without the new solution, these reservoirs would have closed down prematurely and Statoil would have been forced to find other reserves.

Moreover, there are impressive environmental benefits. The subsea compressor requires some 40 per cent less power to operate than a traditional topside solution for the same service and it significantly reduces the CO2 emissions of a field. SKF’s magnetic bearing technology was a key enabler in turning this dream into a reality. “We chose SKF for their strength in bearings,” says Vinterstø. “It is the only company on the market with such a qualified product.”

Statoil and SKF have shared a long relationship that dates back to the 1980s and the two companies worked closely on the smart magnetic bearing technology, which is integrated inside the compressor casing. Engineers from both SKF and Statoil often worked side-by side with SKF coming up with ideas and suggesting ways to cut costs. “We had a lot of discussions and I think that this way of sharing gave them a better understanding of our end-user needs and lead to a better result,” says Vinterstø.

SKF’s magnetic bearings spin without making contact. This contact-free design is lubrication free, energy efficient and enables low vibration. The bearings can run continuously and control shafts rotating at very high speed, typically above critical modes not reachable by other bearings.

All of these factors were important when designing the subsea gas compression system. Keeping the system architecture simple, with as few components as possible, was vital due to space, weight and environmental considerations.

The magnetic bearings are integrated inside the electric motor driven compressor’s casing, eliminating the need for lubricating oil, seals and a gearbox. The frictionless magnetic bearings enable higher rotation speeds leading to smaller and lighter compressor modules and infrastructure.

SKF’s deep knowledge of high rotation speeds and how magnetic bearings function in industrial processes gave it the edge when designing the new application, but getting the technology to meet a host of regulations was a time-consuming process. The project took five years of intense development and testing, including simulating underwater sea conditions above ground in 6,000 hours of continual operation.

“Before the customer agreed to the bearings solution we did a topside version of the system to make sure that the components were suitable for the underwater environment,” says Jérémy Lepelley, Subsea & Oil & Gas Developments Sales Manager, at SKF Magnetic Mechatronics. “This helped us achieve top quality and meet the specifications for vibrations and more. We learned a lot with the Statoil project which moves us up in terms of technology and gives us an edge over the competition.”

There are many more applications for SKF’s magnetic bearings in the oil, gas and power generation industries. The bearings can be found onshore, offshore – and now subsea. Magnetic bearings are in industrial cooling chillers, blowers, pumps – everywhere there is a system rotating at high speed or where there is a need to cut down on CO2 emissions.

SKF has more than 130,000 magnetic bearings and high-speed electric motor references in operations across many industries and over 1,000 installations in the oil and gas industry.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: May 5, 2016, 12:00 pm
What is IMx-M?

IMx-M is a protection system with a difference: it incorporates condition monitoring. When people approach us they are generally looking for a protection system: we’ve added condition monitoring to that.

The system protects and monitors critical and high-speed rotating machinery: power generation, pumps, aero engines, steam or gas turbines, motor-run systems – any machine that has high potential energy that could cause severe damage. It’s a sophisticated way of monitoring the condition of critical offshore machinery. Together with SKF @ptitude Monitoring Suite software, it enables end users to protect and enhance the reliability of assets and reduce machine downtime.

It’s a complete system for initiation of machinery shutdown, early fault detection, and diagnosis – and is API670 compliant. The majority of IMx-M sales are into the Oil & Gas industry, followed by power generation and other areas.

How is it set up?

To configure the system, we use IMx-M Manager to set up all the protection values.

The advantage over our competitors is that we can take all types of sensors into one card. Rival systems need a card for each parameter – such as temperature, acceleration, proximity probes, and so on. And, typically, they will only have four channels per card – whereas ours have 16. At the same time, the number of channels is creating a high rack channel density: that means fewer racks and cabinets, which reduces the size of the equipment room that you need.

Each channel is then given an alarm and trip setting – such as 10,000ms to trip – and IMx-M is set up as a protection system.

Then, we simply import this file into our Observer software, and that automatically creates the condition monitoring channels that take data from the inputs to the card. Our rack can take four cards, giving a total of 64 channels. And it has dual redundant power supplies – so if one fails, the other can fully support the system.

Why is there a need to combine protection and monitoring?

These days, there are fewer people running facilities – yet they have more to do. Safety has also improved, however, the greater your exposure to this type of machinery, the higher the risk. This is why protection systems are incorporating a monitoring aspect. It helps to cut the risk.

It’s also very cost-effective. With a protection system, the user has already invested in the main infrastructure components such as transducers, cables and cabinets. Adding the condition monitoring function re-uses these components, adding key functionality at little cost.

We recently supplied a system for a steam turbine in an oil power plant. The customer was already a user of SKF software – but, crucially, wanted a protection system that incorporated condition monitoring. Its existing system could not offer this, so we won the contract to replace it.

Is SKF a major player in this market?

It’s a very big market, dominated by one major player. If we can win a percentage of it, that’s huge. And this is already happening. Many installed systems have a lifespan of just 10-15 years, so there’s plenty of opportunity for us to replace competitor systems. We’ve done that recently with a Brazilian customer – where we replaced a competitor’s system with one of ours. We expect to do more of that in future.

Of course, there must be an incentive to switch. We know that our systems must be cost-effective, and perform as well – or better – than the incumbent system. It’s the software and the ease of use that need to be the differentiator.

It’s taken a while to build credibility in this market. A few years ago, oil companies were telling us: ‘Come back to us when you’ve made some sales.’ Now that we have, we’re going to do just that. We recently won a $20m contract with a major oil company, for example: working on that has driven a lot of the development of IMx-M.

The latest release is designed to present the analyst with a powerful and efficient tool for analyzing and diagnosing machinery problems. IMx-M distills more than 30 years of SKF experience in critical machinery monitoring.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: May 5, 2016, 12:00 pm