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Gothenburg, Sweden, 24 November 2016: SKF has secured a contract with Cryostar, a French manufacturer of turbo-expanders, to supply SKF S2M magnetic bearings and the latest generation E300V2 control cabinet. SKF’s solutions will be used in MTC200 oil-free turboexpanders that Cryostar will deliver to Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum Yanan Energy and Chemical Co., Ltd. The turboexpanders will be installed at an ethylene and propylene plant, located in Shaanxi province, China.

The magnetic bearings will be integrated in MTC200 frame turbo-expanders that operate at a design rotation speed of close to 40,000 rpm. MTC200 are magnetic bearing turbines braked by a compressor wheel, with an expander wheel of nominal diameter of 200 mm. SKF magnetic bearings are non-contact, friction-free that allow reaching high tip wheel speed for optimal efficiency and performance of a turboexpander.

SKF’s E300V2 control cabinet offers several new features: remote monitoring, on-line data measurement and easy post-processing functionalities providing a high degree of autonomy for plant operators. The magnetic bearing control system has inherent health monitoring and diagnostics possibilities that measure the machine’s critical parameters, such as rotation speed, vibrations and temperatures.

Moreover, SKF S2M magnetic bearings are 100 per cent leak-safe preventing oil-ingestion into the process gas. The oil free technology improves the safety of installations in term of risk of process equipment’s contamination by oil. The elimination of lubricating oil is the decisive advantage for low temperature process (-130°C/-150°C).

“This contract shows we have earned the confidence of turbomachinery manufacturers and end-users alike in highly-competitive markets such as China. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Cryostar, together we have successfully completed over hundred projects all over the world” says Sylvain Bayard, Director of Sales, SKF Magnetic Mechatronics (S2M). 

The new olefins production unit will have a capacity of approximately 200 thousand tons of ethylene and propylene. In this innovative process olefins are produced without traditional steam cracking technology.

Cryostar’s China Bussiness Manager Mr Eric Choi said: “Cryostar is very proud to have been selected for the supply of the turbo-expander/compressor package for the first project of this type. It shows the confidence that the different parties involved in this plant have in the association of Cryostar and SKF.”

The world’s first magnetic bearings turbo-expander was developed by Cryostar and commissioned in 1988. It was the French company S2M, then an SKF subsidiary who supplied active magnetic bearings. Today, more than 600 turbo-expanders worldwide are equipped with SKF S2M Magnetic Bearings. Cryostar has one of the largest base of expanders equipped with AMB in operation in the world. Applications include gas treatment, dew point control, ethylene production and others.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 24, 2016, 12:00 pm
The food and beverage industry knows that sustainability matters. Customers increasingly prefer products with good social and environmental credentials. Shareholders want assurances that companies aren’t wasting money by consuming excessive water or energy, or by producing too much waste. Regulators want manufacturing processes that don’t pollute the land, rivers or atmosphere. And, as the UN COP21 treaty demonstrates, the world’s governments are aligned in their commitment to reduce global warming driven by greenhouse gas emissions.

Leading global food and drink companies have set themselves challenging sustainability targets. Among other social and environmental commitments, for example, Diageo aims to safely return 100 percent of wastewater1 , Unilever wants to reduce the full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of its products by 50 percent2 , and Nestle has set itself the goal of eliminating factory waste sent to landfill , all by 2020.

Those goals are significant, and companies’ commitment admirable, but they are proving tough to achieve. Increasingly, these companies are realising that the key to world class sustainability performance lies in the details of their operations and maintenance processes.

Many decisions a company makes have an impact on sustainability, from the sourcing of inputs to the choice of manufacturing technologies and the design of the supply chain. Many food and beverage companies have made important changes in these areas: encouraging suppliers to adopt efficient agricultural methods for example, installing high efficiency equipment in manufacturing plants, or sourcing electricity from renewable sources. Strategic decisions like these can only take an organisation so far, however. In fact, tactical choices about the way equipment is run can have considerable impact on key sustainability metrics.

To understand why, it is worth looking at a few examples. In the realm of energy efficiency, for example, one common decision might be to replace the electric motors used to drive pumps, mixers and other equipment with higher efficiency units. An 18.5kW electric motor of efficiency class IE1 can have a nominal efficiency of 89.3 percent. The class IE3 version of the same motor can have an efficiency of 92.6 percent. That 3.3 percent efficiency improvement is valuable, but if the pump driven by the motor is poorly maintained, or if misaligned connecting shafts result in greater friction in a machine, the resulting energy losses can easily be greater than any gains delivered by such specification improvements.

At one food and beverage plant, for example, 12 pumps were exhibiting high levels of vibration and rapid wear. Working with SKF, the plant’s operations team identified poor shaft alignment as the root cause of the issue. After precision alignment, not only were noise, vibration and reliability improved, but the energy consumption of the pumps was reduced by as much as 20 percent in one case, and by 16 percent on average. The fix saved the company more than 9,000kWh per year in electricity consumption in each pump, and reduced its annual CO2 emissions by 28 tonnes a year across all 12. With some food or beverage manufacturing sites relying on many hundreds of pumps in their operations, improvements like these can add up very quickly.

Then there is the effect of equipment availability. In the event of an unscheduled stoppage, most plants will leave other equipment in the line running while repairs are made. As a result, the energy consumed per unit produced increases as line reliability falls.

It is a known fact that effective lubrication plays a critical role in helping plants reduce unplanned downtime. It is often said that lubrication management can make or break asset performance. As good lubrication practices are widely accepted to be fundamental to plant reliability, the question is not about re-lubricating or not, but about the choices made to achieve the right outcome with minimum environmental impact.

The dry cleaning of bearings can generate grease contaminated materials like gloves and cleaning cloths, paper towels for example, that will typically go for incineration. This adversely impacts the Zero Landfill3 Initiative that advocates for a change from disposal to avoidance oriented practices.

In case of washdowns, excessive grease (due to purge) is being washed off from bearings, entering the waste water stream.

If lubrication is not tightly managed, the problems can multiply. Lubricant that escapes into the production environment can compromise food safety and create slip hazards for operators.

The food and beverage industry should reconsider the way lubrication is managed on sites and look into alternative technologies that provide food & operator safety, optimized costs and environmental benefits in the same time.

Tackling challenges of this kind requires changes at a very granular level. High efficiency seals can reduce water ingress into bearings, reducing failures and extending replacement intervals. Automated lubrication systems can precisely control the quantity of lubricants, reducing consumption, minimising contamination risk and saving labour. Perhaps most significantly, a new generation of re-lubrication-free and lubricated for life bearing technologies can allow companies break the wash-down/re-lubrication cycle for good.

Technologies like these frequently provide a win-win solution for food and beverage companies, reducing operating costs while also helping to meet sustainability and food safety targets. The main challenge in capturing such opportunities is finding them. It is unlikely that even a large and well-resourced corporate sustainability department will have the detailed knowledge of equipment and shop floor operations required to identify many possible improvements. And the people who do – operations and maintenance teams – may be more focussed on other priorities. That calls for a cultural change. Only when responsibility for sustainability is dispersed through the whole organisation – by including targets for efficiency improvements and waste reduction alongside those for quality, productivity and safety – will food and beverage companies find the recipe for superior long-term performance.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 22, 2016, 1:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 21 November 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 Future Materials and its role in meeting industry demands, such as reducing weight, size and cost of a product. Speakers are Harry Bhadeshia, Tata Steel Professor of Metallurgy, University of Cambridge; Martin Rawson, Technical Specialist on steels, Rolls-Royce; Professor Theo Dingemans, Department of Applied Physical Sciences, University of North Carolina and Steve Lane, Manager of the Metallic Materials and Ceramics Department, SKF.

“Steel remains the predominant material in industry. More than 1.7 billion tonnes of steel are in use worldwide and it’s expected to grow to 2.8 billion in 2050.”, says Steve Lane, SKF. “Incremental steps are being made to develop new grades and to clean up the steel making processes in order to reduce CO2 emissions by more usage of recycled scrap metal. However, the weight to strength relationship of materials is becoming increasingly relevant for design engineers, which is opening up new possibilities to use ceramics, composites, polymers and light alloys, providing of course they are both technically and economically feasible for replacing steel”.

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

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

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 21, 2016, 9:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 14 November 2016: SKF today announced the introduction of the Electric Cartridge Pump ECP. Developed to lubricate bearings and linear guides in small machines, this reliable pump includes an integrated pressure-relief valve that enables its use in single-line lubrication systems such as SKF MonoFlex.

The Electric Cartridge Pump ECP is a cost effective and simple to operate lubrication solution, packaged in a modern, space-saving design. Utilizing easy to exchange 380 ml cartridges (12.8 fl. oz.), it is compatible with both oil and fluid greases.

This electrically driven piston pump uses 24 V DC and is controlled by an external programmable logic controller (PLC) for convenience. In addition, the Electric Cartridge Pump ECP is capable of manually activating a lubrication cycle and can be used with an optional, integrated level switch to monitor the fill level of the cartridge.

The new ECP pump will be shown at Jimtof, the Japan International Machine Tool Fair (17-22 November 2016), Tokyo. Visit SKT at Jimtof: West Hall 2, booth W2054.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 14, 2016, 1:00 pm
Automotive transmission bearings must meet many conflicting goals. They are expected to carry high loads, offer a service life in excess of 300,000km, be robust enough to tolerate abusive operation, and stiff enough to minimise NVH issues. At the same time, transmission makers are looking for compact dimensions, low friction to combat CO2 emissions, and for cost-effective and globally available solutions. These demands are encouraging the adoption of some novel approaches to bearing systems design.

In traditional transmission designs, preloaded taper roller bearings are installed at each end of the shaft. This arrangement offers the benefits of high capacity and axial stiffness, but bearing preload must be measured and adjusted during assembly, and proper preload is sensitive to the thermal expansion of components during operation.

An increasingly popular alternative is the locating-nonlocating bearing arrangement, in which a deep groove ball bearing (DGBB) at one end of the shaft handles some radial loads and all the axial loads. Radial loads at the other end are taken by a cylindrical roller bearing. This design is not affected by thermal expansion. It reduces friction too, saving up to 3g of CO2 per km in a typical 6 speed manual transmission. Its downsides are the lower total load capacity of the DGBB and a reduction in axial stiffness.

Axial stiffness can be improved by changing the way bearings are mounted in the transmission. Conventionally, this is done using a combination of snap rings and flanges on the bearing outer ring. This approach has a number of disadvantages. The tolerance necessary to permit easy assembly means the bearing can move in use, with axial forces shifting from the flange to the snap ring as the vehicle goes from drive to coast condition.

That movement can affect the efficiency of gear meshing, reduce shifting accuracy and create NVH issues. This design can also allow the outer ring of the bearing to rotate in the housing, especially as differences in thermal expansion coefficient mean aluminium housings expand more than steel bearings. The conventional approach creates problems in assembly too, since snap rings are awkward and time consuming to install.

A new approach that overcomes many of these limitations is the use of a bearing retainer unit. Usually formed from sheet material, these consist of a plate that holds the outer ring of the bearing at one edge and which includes a number of threaded holes by which it is secured to the transmission housing. During installation, fastening bolts draw the bearing into its cavity in the housing. The resulting interface ensures the outer ring of the bearing cannot rotate, while radial loads are transmitted directly from bearing to housing.

Precise engineering of the material and geometry of the retainer, along with appropriate fastener design, holds the bearing securely in its cavity and prevents movement due to axial loads. The result is a stiffer, quieter, more efficient and longer-lasting transmission.

Bearing retainers have further advantages in the factory. Bearings are delivered pre-installed in retainers, meaning just one component has to be pressed onto each shaft and secured in the normal way. During assembly, the plates rotate feely on their bearings and are positioned using locating features that fix their orientation relative to each other, or to features cast into the transmission housing.  Some retainers are designed to hold two bearings, which are pressed onto the gearbox shafts simultaneously, with the gears in a meshed condition. With the retainers precisely located by one of these methods, the securing fasteners can be installed “blind”, from the outside of the housing, a process that is straightforward to automate.

Bearing carrier units are a further development of the retainer approach. In this design, the bearing is secured into a holder on the carrier plate, which may be a sheet metal or cast component depending on load requirements. There is no direct interface between the bearing and the housing, with all loads transmitted through the carrier. Carrier units can be used to secure locating bearings to the transmission housing, or as interim supports for longer shafts. Carrier units provide all the assembly and performance advantages of bearing retainers, while also simplifying housing design and permitting more compact transmission configurations.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 9, 2016, 1:00 pm
Gothenburg, Sweden, 7 November 2016: SKF today announced the introduction of its SKF Shaft Alignment Tool TKSA 71. Designed for professional alignment in harsh industrial environments, the TKSA 71 provides superior alignment performance and long service life.

The tool’s easy-to-use, dedicated software applications enable different types of alignments: shaft alignment, soft foot correction, vertical shaft alignment, spacer shaft alignment, machine train shaft alignment and dial gauge values. Its innovative instrument design offers high measurement accuracy and excellent protection against dust and water. The versatile TKSA 71 also has ultra-compact measuring units for use in narrow spaces.

Suitable for a wide range of applications, the TKSA 71 is offered as the base model with standard accessories and a rugged case that meets airline standards for cabin luggage. The TKSA 71/PRO includes additional accessories for more demanding applications and is supplied in a larger, rugged trolley case. Models TKSA 71D and TKSA71D/PRO include a display device with protective cover and pre-installed apps that are ready to use without Internet connection or account setup.

The TKSA 71’s software apps are designed for intuitive use without prior training and are available free of charge for both Android and Apple iOS platforms. Common features include comprehensive, automatic reports, export and sharing options, instructional videos within the app, built-in tolerance guidelines, disturbance compensation, 3-D live view and a fully functional demonstration mode.

Watch our video and learn how SKF’s new Shaft Alignment Tool TKSA 71 works or visit the SKF product pages for more information.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 7, 2016, 12:00 pm

Gothenburg, 4 November 2016: SKF has been informed ofthe initiation of a lawsuit, with a claim for damages, by BMW AGand several group companies (BMW) against bearing manufacturers,including AB SKF, that were part of the settlement decision by theEuropean Commission for violation of European competitionrules.

BMW has filed the lawsuit with the High Court ofJustice in London, United Kingdom. SKF has not, at this stage,received definitive information about the size of damagesclaimed.

The amount of damages, if any, should SKF be foundliable, is at this stage not possible to determine.

The decision by the European Commission in March 2014covered violations of European competition rules with respect tosales of bearings to the automotive manufacturing industry inEurope. SKF was one of six bearing manufacturers involved in theinvestigation.

The settlement decision made no finding that SKF’stop management had involvement in, or knowledge of, the conduct atissue. Furthermore, SKF strongly believes that the activitiessanctioned by the European Commission have not caused any damage toits business partners.

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. The information was provided by theabove contact persons for publication on 4 November 2016 at 11.45CET.

Posted: November 4, 2016, 10:45 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 3 November 2016: at EICMA 2016, SKF will unveil the latest version of its shock absorber sealing system. The company will share a stand with its official distribution partner InnTeck, an international distributor of high tech components and racing accessories for motorcycles and bikes.

Using a specially developed NBR compound, the Seal Head Unit 2.0 provides reliable sealing for high-performance suspension components over a wide temperature range of -40°C to +140°C. The fully integrated one-part system features a new static outer diameter seal design to ensure easier assembly and removal, while its all-new rebound bumper and mating plate provides a smoother kick-back and consequently longer service life. As well as reducing friction and wear, this compact new sealing solution enables the OE Customers to increase the operating stroke length while at the same time keeping the overall shock absorber dimension as short as possible.

Also showing this year are piston seals and fork closed cartridge seals from SKF that combine low-friction NBR compounds with optimised designs to deliver outstanding sealing performance for two-wheeler forks. Both feature dynamic seal lips to reduce friction and integrated metal inserts to improve seal contact with the shaft and housing. When used together, these seals enable better absorption of impacts, particularly during braking.

Piston seals and fork closed cartridge seals from SKF are offered for the Showa SFF-Air TAC advanced front suspension system. Packaged and distributed by distribution partner InnTeck, this kit replaces the air piston seals and original rod seals of the Showa SFF Air-TAC forks, used on some Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki latest model years.

EICMA is a worldwide motorcycle exhibition for motorcycle enthusiasts. This year's show - the 74th EICMA - will take place at Fiera Milano in Milan, Italy, from 08-13 November 2016. Visitors will find SKF and its official distribution partner, InnTeck in Pavillion 4, on Stand O74.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 3, 2016, 1:00 pm

Gothenburg, 3 November 2016: SKF is investing SEK 150million in modernizing its cylindrical roller bearing (CRB)manufacturing in Schweinfurt, Germany. This is the thirdsignificant manufacturing investment announced by SKF in the last18 months, following the announcement of similar investments inGothenburg, Sweden and Flowery Branch, USA.

The investment in Schweinfurt will involve theimplementation of the latest technologies within machining,assembly and packaging and will result in older production channelsbeing replaced by largely automated, world-class technologies.

Luc Graux, President, Bearing Operations, says: “Weare very excited to be ramping up our investments in developingworld-class manufacturing within SKF. The automated assembly andzero reset-time of the channel will greatly improve our flexibilityand lead-times for medium- and small-size lots of standard CRBproducts. Our ambition is to launch pilot projects such as theseacross all of our main product lines, before replicating themacross other manufacturing sites.”

“Together with our projects in Gothenburg and FloweryBranch, we have now announced almost SEK 500 million of investmentsin upgrading and digitalising our factories during the last 18months. Ensuring we develop flexible and modern manufacturingprocesses is essential in supporting SKF’s growth and profitabilityambitions.”

The investments announced today are expected to becompleted by the middle of 2018.

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: November 3, 2016, 8:00 am
“If there’s a bushing, bearing or gear, something that is rotating or sliding in agricultural, construction and mining machines, it’s going to require lubrication,” says Peter Laucis, Director of Portfolio Management – ALS Products, SKF Lubrication Business Unit. “And the heavier the loads, the more aggressive and dirty the environment, the greater the need for lubrication.”

While manual lubrication is still the norm in many applications, use of automated lubrication systems (ALS) is becoming a more prevalent alternative to help minimize downtime, improve overall quality and safety through preventative maintenance.

With an ALS, lubricant can be applied exactly when and where it’s needed while the machine is running. Manual lubrication, on the other hand, requires the machine to be stopped before lubricant can be applied, and may require a person to climb onto the machine which can be a safety issue.

In addition to helping increase safety and productivity for equipment owners, Laucis says OEMs can also benefit from integrating an ALS into their equipment. “It can extend warranty and performance, and it can maintain the unit running at various conditions under the design the machine was geared to do.”

The systems and how they work

An ALS consists of a reservoir containing grease or other designated lubricant and an electric, pneumatic or hydraulic pump which activates the system to deliver lubricant from the reservoir to the desired location within the machine. Depending on the design of the machine, lubricant can be dispensed to as many as 100 or 200 different points. A series of metering valves are used to apply the lubricant in the desired location at the exact time lubrication is needed.

The system knows where and when to apply lubricant due to built-in controls. If the ALS is integrated into a machine at the factory, the system can be controlled by the OEM’s programmable logic controller (PLC). The appropriate lubrication intervals are programmed into the PLC, enabling it to turn on the ALS when necessary.

SKF also designs controllers which can be built into the system if it is added to a piece of equipment at the aftermarket level or another point along the OEM channel, such as by a dealer. Laucis says these controllers can provide simple on/off control or be more sophisticated through the inclusion of sensing devices to provide operators with information about when lubrication cycles are occurring, fault indicators and performance attributes.

Single line parallel and progressive are the two main types of lubrication systems used within heavy-duty mobile applications. A single line parallel system consists of a reservoir and a pump connected to a bank of injectors by a single hose line. The injectors are lined up in parallel with one another, like fingers on comb, and each of the injectors function independently of one another. By doing so, each injector meters the exact amount of lubricant required and can also be adjusted independently if necessary.

The independent functionality is beneficial because if one bearing fails or gets blocked in some manner, it will not adversely affect lubrication of other bearings in the machine. “People like the single line parallel because they can lubricate the entire machine of, let’s say 120 points, and when a couple of those points fail, they’re still getting lubrication in the other systems,” says Laucis.

He notes these systems are often used in heavy mining equipment due to the need to minimize downtime as much as possible. It can also be used in construction equipment to avoid poor operator maintenance and in agricultural equipment for safety and bearing protection.

Progressive systems are similar, except the single line goes to a series of valve blocks instead of a parallel line of injectors. Each valve block meters lubricant to various points within a machine; one block may have up to 12 points to which it provides lubricant, and the next block or zone will lubricate another 12 points, and so on. “The main difference is if you have one bearing that blocks, it literally stops the entire system because the grease is progressing through the system in a series,” Laucis says. “If you block one bearing it will actually have a hydraulic lock on every piston in that block in the system, then the whole system shuts down.”

He says this type of system is typical for medium-size machines such as those used for highway construction because customers like that a fault indicator will come on when a blockage occurs, letting them know to check the machine at the end of the work day. While downtime is a concern, it is not as important as in mining operations where even the smallest amount of downtime can adversely affect productivity and thus profit for the customer.

Multiline systems can also be used in off-highway machinery. This system consists of a round housing with several points—up to 20—coming out of it, each of which goes to an individual bearing or other component to lubricate. The system is designed to simultaneously feed several points within a short distance. Laucis says this system is typically used in smaller, less heavy-duty applications due to the fact that it’s not necessarily the most cost-effective option. Since the system is limited on how many on points it can feed, a larger machine would require several systems to be installed, whereas the single line systems are more modular and better able to feed a larger number of points from a single source.

Moving toward more automation

Use of an ALS is becoming more prevalent within the heavy equipment industry, however, Laucis says it can be difficult in some applications to compete with an individual who manually lubricates a machine. In large, heavy-duty machines—such as mining equipment—he says there is a high rate of adoption because much of the equipment is automated to maintain performance levels and eliminate or minimize downtime, which can be aided by an ALS.

He says safety is also a factor for increased use of these systems in heavy machinery. “People are becoming really safety conscious. They are preventing or minimizing the environments where there’s danger, and lubricating points on a machine is a safety issue.” Eliminating the need to manually lubricate parts of the machine ensures a person will not have to climb all over the machine—which may be covered in dirt and grease—and risk possible injury. “You also have mechanical shut off devices, automatic sensing for high/low level grease levels,” says Laucis. “All these accessories are now becoming more prevalent and required on automatic lube systems because they will promote safe environments, continuous uptime performance and be able to provide a nice clean machine.

“In the medium machinery market, where cost per point is becoming more critical, I would say the market is stabilizing and increasing based on the value of performance,” he continues. This is due in part to the ability to add telematics to the lubrication system, enabling customers to receive feedback on performance and servicing like they do with other systems in their machine. Increasing safety has also caused the rising use of automated lubrication systems in these machines.

On smaller sized machines, Laucis says manual lubrication is still the norm as end users typically have regularly scheduled maintenance they perform, making it easy to have lubrication be a part of that maintenance regimen. However, he does see the rate of adoption for ALS increasing in this segment, as well.

Whether the system is installed at the OEM or aftermarket level is also dependent on the type of machinery in which it will be used. On larger machines, the OEM tends to install the ALS at the factory. As machine size starts to decrease, the use of auto lube become options depending on the customer preferences and use of the machines in their environment. OEMs look to a strong aftermarket “pull” by their customers to standardize their ALS factory fit systems.

On the aftermarket side, he says it’s important to look at what value there is for the customer to add the system, such as safety and performance benefits. For a rental fleet, the case could be made for using the systems to help maintain inventory. If a rented machine comes back and is not performing as it should, the ALS’s data logger can verify whether or not the machine was properly lubricated to help narrow down what may be causing the issue. Laucis says having strong aftermarket support and proof of ROI on the end user side can lead to an OEM seeing value in integrating the system at the factory.

Since SKF also designs and manufactures bearings, the company is able to use its knowledge of how they work, and what causes them to fail, in order to explain the benefits of moving to an ALS. One of the most common performance issues with bearings is the lack of lubrication and they are dirty. “The best way to prolong the life of a bearing is to have a continuous, thin film of lubricant at all times,” says Laucis. “We have studies and other information to say if you continually lubricate with small intervals, you will have the longest performance of a bearing.”

An automated system is able to provide that continuous lubrication, whereas manual lubrication would require a person to stand by the machine while it’s running and move a grease gun to every point requiring lubrication, and apply grease every minute says Laucis. Often times manual lubrication is completed at the end of the work day or week, and the lubrication point is flooded with grease or the worker only applies a few pumps of grease and then goes about his or her business. This causes long intervals between lubricant applications, which he says is not the best way to prolong the life of a bearing.

“And that’s the philosophy of automated lubrication versus other methods that has to be sold and promoted to maintain machines on a longer level,” says Laucis. Through the use of an ALS, both OEMs and end users can benefit from the system applying only the amount of grease a bearing requires and at the exact time it’s needed, ensuring the bearing will perform as designed and machine downtime will be minimized.

The original article written by Sara Jensen/OEM Off-Highway can be found here:

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: November 1, 2016, 1:00 pm

Gothenburg, 26 October 2016:

Alrik Danielson, President andCEO:

“Organic sales were relatively unchangedcompared to last year. According to seasonality, organic sales werelower compared with the second quarter.

Net sales in the quarter were SEK 17.9 billion,operating profit was SEK 2 191 million and our operating margin was12.2%. Excluding positive one-time items of SEK 380 million,operating profit was SEK 1 811 million and operating margin was10.1%.

Our automotive business continues to improveits perform­ance, in line with the ambitions set out in the profitimprovement programme which was launched last year, with anoperating margin excluding one-time items of 6.6%. Organic salesincreased by 4.4% in the quarter compared with the corres­pondingquarter last year, driven mainly by strong growth inAsia.

Our industrial business delivered an operatingmargin, excluding one-time items of 11.7%, a continued resilientper­formance. Although the rate of decline in demand in NorthAmerica and Asia has diminished, market conditions continued to bechallenging during the third quarter.

Cash flow generation was a solid SEK 1 816million in the quarter, excluding the effects fromdivestments.

Investments in the implementation ofworld-class manufacturing technologies in our spherical rollerbearing factories in Gothenburg and Flowery Branch are progressingas planned. Similar technologies and processes are to be introducedacross other product lines as part of our strategy to improve theflexibility and cost-competitiveness of our factories.

Entering the fourth quarter of 2016, demand forour products and services is expected to be relatively unchangedboth compared to the same period last year andsequentially.”

Key figures, SEKmQ3 2016Q3 2015YTD 2016YTD2015
Net sales17 91218 36754 00257 782
Operating profit excl. one-time items1 8111 9765 8036 929
Operating margin excl. one-time items, %10.110.810.712.0
One-time items in operating profit380-151138-1 000
Operating profit2 1911 8255 9415 929
Operating margin, %12.29.911.010.3
Profit before taxes, excl. operating and financialone-time items1 6691 6295 2256 231
Profit before taxes2 0491 3485 3635 181
Net cash flow after investments beforefinancing1 5541 8086 2894 450
Net sales change y-o-y, %:OrganicStructureCurrencyTotal
Q3 2016-0.6-2.00.1-2.5
Organic sales change in local currencies, perregion y-o-y, %:EuropeNorth AmericaLatin AmericaAsiaMiddle East & Africa
Q3 2016-0.6-3.5-

Outlook for the fourth quarter2016

Demand compared to the fourth quarter2015
The demand for SKF’s products and services isexpected to be relatively unchanged for the Group and forIndustrial. Demand for Automotive is expected to be slightlyhigher. Demand is expected to be relatively unchanged in Europe,lower in North America, slightly higher in Asia and higher in LatinAmerica.

Demand compared to the third quarter2016
The demand for SKF’s products and services isexpected to be relatively unchanged for the Group including bothIndustrial and Automotive. Demand is expected to be slightly higherin Europe, lower in North America and relatively unchanged in Asiaand in Latin America.

A teleconference will be held on 26October at 14:00(CEST):
SE: +46 8 5065 3937
UK: +44 20 3427 1912
US: +1 646 254 3360

You will find all information regardingthe SKF nine-month 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 26 October 2016 at 13:00 CEST.

Posted: October 26, 2016, 11:00 am

Gothenburg, 17 October 2016: SKF and GE Oil & Gashave signed a non-exclusive, licence-based collaboration agreement,aimed at further developing the use of active magnetic bearingtechnologies within the oil and gas sector.

As part of the agreement, GE Oil & Gas will makeuse of SKF’s leading magnetic bearing technologies from front-endengineering design to installation, testing and service tocustomers. The partnership also provides the basis for futurecollaboration, to widen the scope of applications of activemagnetic bearings into other GE Oil & Gas turbomachinery, suchas steam and gas turbines.

Victoria van Camp, President, Business and ProductDevelopment at SKF, says: “SKF’s active magnetic bearing technologyhas already enabled a number of breakthroughs within the oil andgas sector. Through this agreement, we are strengthening ourtechnology leadership and enhancing our relationship with GE Oil& Gas. We are also implementing a new business model, whichwill ensure that we widen the scope of applications for thesetechnologies.”

Luca Maria Rossi, General Manager for TurbomachinerySolutions Product Management, GE Oil & Gas, says: “Activemagnetic bearings bring relevant benefits in terms of reliability,maintenance needs and performance in our compressor technology.Through this strategic agreement, we will be able to provide ourcustomers more optimized solutions with GE as a unique point ofcontact for the entire machinery and auxiliaries. SKF will bringthe know-how and core expertise, while GE Oil & Gas brings thescale, process and service capabilities in order to better serveoil and gas operators.”

Aktiebolaget SKF

For further information about GE Oil & Gas,please visit:

Posted: October 17, 2016, 7:00 am
The cost of operating and maintaining onshore wind farms in Europe is significant. According to the European Wind Energy Association, Operating and Maintenance (O&M) costs account for around 20 percent of the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for onshore wind farms. As such, any measures that can be taken to reduce this cost directly translate into improved returns for investors.

This is not to say that asset owners can scrimp on O&M expenses. Inadequate O&M can lead to minor faults or defects not being recognised. This not only impacts yield but can also result in major component failure, potentially leading to costly repairs and lengthy downtime.

O&M is a growing issue for the wind industry. Due to the increased probability of component failure and that defects will fall outside of the manufacturer’s warranty period, the importance and cost of O&M increases with the length of time from commissioning. Given that approximately 75 percent of all onshore wind turbines installed in Europe have been operating for less than ten years, this is an issue of growing relevance.

As a leading supplier to the wind energy sector, SKF manufactures numerous components including different bearings for the drive train, along with lubrication and sealing solutions. But our expertise does not end there. Ten years ago SKF developed a vibration monitoring system and opened a remote monitoring centre. Condition monitoring is the process of determining the condition of machinery while in operation. The key to a successful condition monitoring programme includes knowing what to listen for, how to interpret it and when to put this knowledge to use. Condition monitoring  Systems (CMS) not only help wind farm operators reduce the possibility of catastrophic failure, but also allow them to order parts in advance, schedule manpower and machines, and plan other repairs during the downtime.

With our hosted software and monitoring services, implementing a world-class predictive maintenance programme for periodic and mainly continuous monitoring of wind turbines is just an Internet connection away. SKF Remote Monitoring Services use SKF condition monitoring tools such as the SKF IMx on-line system, dedicated to wind turbines, to collect data. Based on the results experts analyse data, and use the Internet to communicate management of machine health for informed decision-making.

However, times are changing for CMS, heralded by technology and communication enhancement. To achieve improved operations, the maintenance strategy of operators needs to be shifted from a scheduled model to a predictive model.
Several years ago with the number of wind assets to monitor increasing along with the amount of data collected growing, SKF had to find a way to improve the efficiency of the process. We had to invent new ways of treating the data and that is when we started utilising statistical techniques.

But the volume of data collected from a large wind farm is staggering. As a rule of thumb there are approximately eight sensors on a geared wind turbine with roughly three measurements for each of them, 24 indicators in total; one indicator is one spectrum and one overall value. This information is collected by the condition monitoring hardware and is sent over the Internet, either wired or wireless, to a CMS server, which can be located anywhere on the planet.

In one year with on average one download a day we have close to 9,000 spectra to analyse. If you imagine at the scale of a wind park, which could contain hundreds of turbines, it is completely impossible to analyse without using statistical modelling.
That volume of data means that we now have to use statistical data. This is used to compare the turbines between each other as much as that is possible given differences in location and models. First we compare what is comparable and then we use the historical data we have amassed over the ten years of monitoring windfarms of different models. Based on this history of the data, dependent on turbine type, we use this as background for the new machine that we start to monitor.

Even before we turned to statistical tools, the application of CMS to wind farms was unique, due to the limitations in applying traditional techniques from other industries. The wind turbine is a complicated machine, with a great many variables. Unlike other industries we cannot apply one model of alarm level to all machines; unfortunately, it does not work like that. So we have to develop individual alarm models that allow us to rapidly compare the machines, which can be compared. But to attempt to do this without being guided by the statistics, filter and selection would be impossible in a reasonable amount of time.

A further benefit comes from the growing pool of historical data. This historic data is extremely useful, especially if it contains the entire lifecycle of the unit from installation. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Even though an increasing number of turbines are factory fitted with monitoring technology, much of the existing fleet requires retrofitting; this traditionally occurs close to the end of the warranty period or when the operator or the service provider wants to renew the service contract.

It is, however, vital to select the right kinematic data to analyse to help increase the process accuracy. The system has some features that allows it to scan for potential theoretical defaults. To do this automatic scanning you need to rely on the actual information on the type of components in the system. Each gearing has its own theoretical frequency, so without having a certain level of certainty of the kinematics inside the turbine, you will need to rely on assumptions that will require more input by the analyst.

But today, given our extensive historical database, we have a good understanding and good background on the components inside the gearbox and inside the generator. Based on our experience not all the components in wind turbines need the same level of expertise to be analysed. Detecting a generator bearing issue is quite easy, but with planetary bearings and gears it is much more problematic. We have developed specific algorithms that are really focussed on the detection of the planetary gearings themselves with a specific algorithm.

The final goal is to quickly identify which turbine among the fleet needs to be analysed further. The statistical approach is a complement to the traditional diagnostic to highlight it quickly, to identify the turbines that potentially have an issue. And on those ones, the specialists need to spend some time looking at the vibration signals to determine the issues.

The aim now is to broaden the fleet analysis perspective within the global background that we have built up from among the more than 2000 turbines analysed within SKF. To achieve this a statistical model will be built of vibration comparison for each turbine model and their components over various locations and loading conditions.
This is done by improving the process, by adding regular workshops between the specialists, sharing the issues and sharing the ideas of improvement; creating a global network within the wind CMS community.

So what does this deliver to the operators? It will allow us to tailor the alarms so they only receive information about an issue that is likely to have a detrimental impact on performance, without bothering the operator with false alarms or needless levels of information.

As for the future, the accuracy and scope of CMS will continue to evolve and we continue to push the boundaries of the technology. One of the next steps will be to integrate all the relevant sources of information such as temperature, process parameters and add these to the diagnostics that vibration allows.

The other trends are to be able to hook that CMS data to another more holistic system again to allow better correlation. This is a major driver from the turbine manufacturers, but as always it comes down to cost. Given the high volume of wind turbines there is a lot of pressure to decrease the cost. Our goal is to make the technology more affordable.

After ten years using vibration monitoring we can improve the availability of the wind assets by one percent while at the same time reducing operating and maintenance costs by two percent. By utilising SKF’s statistical-based CMS, operators can save as much as €5,000 per year per wind turbine. But one fact is certain, as margins for wind farm operators continue to be squeezed every last bit of efficiency is vital to maintain profitability; and a vital tool to help achieve that is the improved prediction capabilities of statistical CMS.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: October 14, 2016, 8:00 am

Gothenburg, Sweden, 13 October 2016: The SKF Groupwill publish its results for the third quarter on 26 October 2016and welcomes investors, analysts and members of the media to takepart in a conference call, which will be held in English, at 14:00(CEST).

To join the conference call, please dial-in using thefollowing details at least 10 minutes before the start of thecall:

SE: +46 8 5065 3937
UK: +44 20 3427 1912
US: +1 646 254 3360

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

The Group's results for the third quarter of 2016will be published around 13:00 (CEST). All information regardingthe results will be made available on the Group’s website:

Media: To pre-book interviews withAlrik Danielson and Christian Johansson after the conference call,please contact Theo Kjellberg on

Aktiebolaget SKF

Posted: October 13, 2016, 7:00 am
Gothenburg, Sweden, 7 October 2016: SKF has manufactured and supplied its largest ever spherical roller bearing (bore diameter 1,25 metres) to be used within the mining industry. The bearing was manufactured at SKF’s factory in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“SKF is a world leader in spherical roller bearings, manufacturing bearings of all sizes and series – from the smallest, with a 20 mm bore size, to this large size bearing that weighs close to eight tonnes” says Petra Öberg Gustafsson, Product Line Manager for self-aligning rolling bearings at SKF.

The bearing is equipped with SKF SensorMount, a unique system that measures the actual mounting fit of the bearing onto the shaft. It helps avoid the risk of improper mounting, a major issue for large size bearings. The bearing weighs 7,780 kg. Each roller within it weighs 42 kg.

The bearing is of the upgraded SKF Explorer class with improved wear resistance, thanks to the patented material heat treatment process that nearly doubles service life in poor lubrication and contaminated conditions.

SKF was chosen to supply the bearing due to its Application Engineering expertise and support, and the knowledge and experience in manufacturing large size industrial bearings.

Daniel Ortega, Project Manager at the Gothenburg factory, says: “We have worked in close cooperation with the customer, in order to design an optimum 241/1250 bearing that is particularly suitable for applications in the mining industry. These applications have extreme operating conditions and are very demanding from a bearing service life perspective.”

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: October 7, 2016, 8:00 am
While politicians, diplomats and other high-ranking dignitaries have made promises and commitments, and agreed challenging targets, it is industry that will do the spadework by putting many of these commitments into practice – from improving energy efficiency to investing in low carbon technologies.

Industry will play a massive role in transforming our carbon-based world – that is wasteful with energy – into one that generates energy without any greenhouse gases, while using it much more efficiently.

It will require investment, and commitment, with innovation driving the growth of both new and established technologies. It will encompass everything from system changes – such as renewable energy sources and electric vehicles – to lower level operational improvements, such as more efficient pumps and motors, and better maintenance and reliability. As engineers, we love a challenge – so will be leading from the front on this.

This is not to belittle the contribution of government. The Paris meeting was an important milestone, in that so many nations reached an agreement to restrict future temperature rises to less than 2 degrees C. Now, with an agreement in place, these governments must enact sensible and challenging legislation – with appropriate incentives and penalties – that underpins the effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Legislation is a crucial driver for sustainability. The European automotive industry, for example, has slashed carbon emissions – mainly because tough legislation demands this. In similar ways, the stimulus of feed-in tariffs for solar or wind energy, and increasingly stringent emissions legislation were also vital in moving the sustainability agenda forward.

While the Paris meeting was an overall success, they didn’t get everything right: the agreements could have been legally binding and they could have done much more to put a global carbon pricing market in place.

I think that a globally connected set of carbon markets is an absolute necessity for the future – and is a distinct possibility. For now, we have isolated and poorly functioning carbon pricing schemes in different regions. Fixing them and hooking them together would help ensure that there is a level playing field for everybody and accelerate the rate of change An effective and sufficient global carbon price could make many things possible – including carbon capture and storage, which could avoid carbon emissions from combustion by storing  them  deep underground where it cannot contribute to climate change.

In reality, there is no single solution to the problem of climate change – so we need to work on many fronts at the same time.

Agreeing to a massive cut in emissions, as was achieved in Paris, may seem to be a nightmare for industry. It is actually an opportunity – tempered by risk – that will require a fundamental shift in thinking.

Look at the hard savings that can be gained from introducing energy efficiency measures; or at the top-line growth of companies that understand this – such as Tesla.

There are generally four types of company when it comes to climate change: those who do and say nothing – though, among larger companies, this is fast disappearing; those who say something but do very little – which might work as PR in the short-term, but ends up being more costly in the long run; those that are genuinely committed to carbon saving and energy efficiency – but restrict this to their own operations; and those for whom sustainability stretches beyond their own organisation.

At SKF, we try as hard as we can to be in this fourth category with BeyondZero as the strategic framework with which we drive and communicate all the various initiatives needed to do this. BeyondZero addresses both the opportunity to reduce carbon and cost related to our own operations and those of our suppliers, logistics etc. At the same time bringing more and more innovative solutions to our customers that help them (and society) do the same. For example, we work with our suppliers to drive improved energy efficiency, in an attempt to shrink not only the footprint of our direct operations but also up the value chain.

Within our own operations we have had a relentless focus on energy efficiency: between 2006 and 2014, we slashed total energy use by 16%, while growing our business by more than 34%. Yes, it’s part of our BeyondZero pledge to reduce our footprint – but it has saved us the equivalent of SEK200m each year. That’s a real example to dispel the myth that sustainability always goes hand in hand with higher costs.

Of course, the endgame is a full-scale transition away from fossil fuels – especially coal – and towards a ‘low carbon’ economy that sees low carbon and renewable energy sources gradually take over. It will take time – 20 or 30 years at least – but we need to start that journey now, and deliver the reductions needed in the short-to-medium term. We can do this by rapidly increasing the efficiency with which we use energy in industry and society – and there are already many ways to do this.

Variable speed drives can reduce the energy consumption of a motor by around 30%. Fifteen or 20 years ago, VSDs were seen as a luxury. Now, they are widely used and are delivering lower energy bills for large swathes of the manufacturing sector. Companies that have bought VSDs are saving on their electricity bills – and are prepared for ever-tightening legislation, as they are working ahead of the curve on sustainability.

Another example would be to switch standard ball bearings to the E2 (energy efficient) equivalents. The reason is simple: friction. E2 bearings have been redesigned to reduce friction while maintaining life and can cut bearing losses by 30%. Multiply this across the industry and you have lower electricity bills. When lots of apparently small actions like this combined  it can have a very large effect.

The manufacturing industry will be at the forefront of making and enabling these kinds of practical changes. If the transformation is to take place with sufficient scale and speed, industry must see a value to making these changes, and recognise the risk of standing still. If companies want to be part of the transformation - and profit from it, rather than suffer by it - they need to act now.

* To be included in the BeyondZero portfolio, SKF products, services and solutions must be demonstrated to deliver significant environmental benefits to the customer, without significant environmental trade-offs elsewhere in the product life cycle.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: October 3, 2016, 8:00 am
To outsiders, collaboration between industry and academia appears straightforward and one-dimensional: the company has a problem, and pays the university for its expertise in solving it. In reality, however, the interaction between the two goes far deeper than this – encompassing training, recruitment, branding and other shared benefits.

“By working with universities, we get access to their competence and knowledge, which we would otherwise have to spend lots of time acquiring,” says Martin Friis, project manager at SKF, with a special assignment to forge links with external partners through funded R&D projects.

While a university’s mission is to produce knowledge that is relevant to society, industry’s mission is to be competitive in its business. To create a rewarding collaboration, it is crucial to understand both worlds. Any collaboration must provide a win-win situation, or it will cease to exist.

SKF carries out R&D collaborations with universities around the world. These range from individual MSc and PhD projects through to larger projects involving more than one researcher. Some of the larger engagements address a programme or subject matter with larger resources.

Examples are the SKF University Technology Centers, where SKF has identified specific collaboration partners for specific core technologies. These include tribology (with Imperial College), steel (Cambridge University) and condition monitoring (Luleå University).

At the frontier
Production systems and products are getting ever more complex, and the pace at which knowledge and information are created makes it difficult to keep up with the latest developments. Universities work “at the frontier” of their subjects, says Friis, and tapping into this is a huge benefit to industrial companies.

However, useful information also flows in the reverse direction. While industry can access the fundamental research from universities, it can also provide feedback regarding its ongoing and future needs. This helps academia to target its research more precisely – and to design courses that more accurately fit industry’s needs by producing graduates who have the correct skills for modern industry.

This brings up the practical issue of recruitment. A large industrial company such as SKF employs many engineering graduates every year, and close academic links can help to ‘brand’ SKF in the minds of students. “They then know who we are – and that we would be an interesting company to work for,” says Friis.

The idea of branding – and identity – goes beyond that of direct recruitment into the SKF fold. Many engineering graduates will end up working for other industrial companies. But, being familiar with SKF and its products will help the company when these students – as full-time engineers – are in a position to specify components such as bearings or seals.

At the same time, SKF employees may take on the role of visiting professors – spending part of their time lecturing at the universities, and supervising PhD and MSc students. SKF can also influence educational development by giving guest lectures, providing case assignments to students or by participating in student union workshops and activities.

Industrial encouragement
Many governments are keen to foster links between industry and academia, and it’s no different in Sweden. “The government funds research programmes that strengthen academia while focusing on the needs of industry,” says Friis. “It needs to be done in the right areas, so they choose the projects carefully.”

On one level, government provides direct funding for education and basic research. On top of this, a funding system will promote industrial collaboration – in which research is further developed, such as by customising it for a real environment. This funding bridges the gap between academic research and industrial evaluation, and usually covers Technology Readiness Levels 3-7. Government funding typically covers the academic resources, while companies cover their own expenses.

For industry to work efficiently in this area, it is vital to participate in trade associations and organisations, in order to emphasise the future needs of industry. These organisations try to influence factors such as which areas are a priority, and how the research funding is to be distributed.

This lobbying helps to get the companies’ needs on the agenda, and facilitates the building of a network with academics, other potential industrial research partners and funding agencies. It is an efficient way to pinpoint relevant research areas, potential academic and industrial research partners and matching funding calls.

Collaboration network
Friis successfully proposed a project to Vinnova (part of Sweden’s Ministry of Enterprise) around the hot topic of ‘Industry 4.0’ – the futuristic vision to interconnect all parts of the modern factory. The two-year project, called 5GEM (5G Enabled Manufacturing), is a collaboration between SKF, Chalmers University and telecoms giant Ericsson. Combining Ericsson’s expertise in wireless technology, SKF’s knowledge of production systems and Chalmers’ scientific approach could help to lay the foundations of Industry 4.0.

“In the connected factory of the future, Wi-Fi will not live up to the new requirements on reliability, latency and data volumes,” says Friis. “The system will need to be ‘up’ all the time.”

The emerging 5G standard – including technologies such as infrastructure, cloud solutions and analytics – could be part of the practical solution that ‘enables’ Industry 4.0. “So far, Industry 4.0 has been talked about as a concept – but it’s this type of technology that will make it happen,” he says.

The advent of 5G will allow the use of higher frequencies, allowing large amounts of data to be transferred quickly and reliably. “Reliability and security are crucial,” says Friis. “Connectivity must be guaranteed at all time – otherwise the production will fail.”

Together, the project partners will develop a series of ‘demonstrators’ based on 5G, which will then be tested in SKF factories. These will be judged on four main criteria: production efficiency; production flexibility; traceability; and sustainability. The team is already close to deciding which demonstrators it will work on. The project will demonstrate how connectivity can enhance the production system performance.

The aim of the project is to use enhanced connectivity and analytics to give access to the correct data – exactly when and where it is needed. Tailoring this to the needs of a human (or a machine) will allow decisions to be taken – either manual, or automated – that will create value in the production system.

Delivering Industry 4.0
Interconnected data already plays an important role in industry, such as in predictive maintenance systems. Industry 4.0, if realised, would take this to a whole new level.
Johan Stahre, Chair of Production Systems at Chalmers University – who is also the Project Manager for 5GEM – says: “The project’s vision is to create a world-class manufacturing system that demonstrates enhanced performance – through improved efficiency, increased flexibility and traceability. A key component of the project is ensuring these technologies are easily transferable to other manufacturing industries.”

And he warns that industry needs to get it right this time – as the concept of universal interconnectivity has been tried once before. “Back in the 1990s we had something called Computer Integrated Manufacturing, which tried to connect everything together,” he says. “But the interoperability failed and we had ‘islands of automation’. It’s taken another 20 years to get to where we are now.”

Industry 4.0 still faces some hurdles – notably around standardisation and interoperability – but projects like 5GEM could help to push it closer to reality.

Aktiebolaget SKF
Posted: September 29, 2016, 8:00 am
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 clearance 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 HBU3 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 Alfa Romeo 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
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
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
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
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, 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: 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, 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, 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