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Bearing selection process

When selecting bearings for any purpose, ultimately you want to be certain of achieving the required level of equipment performance – and at the lowest possible cost. Robustness also is very important because the conditions in which your equipment is assembled, operated and maintained may not be precisely known and may, in fact, vary over time.

In addition to the bearing rating life, there are key factors you must consider when putting together the bearing specifications for an application, including:

  • lubricant and supply method
  • shaft and housing fits
  • bearing clearance class
  • cage material and guidance
  • dimensional stability
  • precision requirements
  • bearing sealing
  • mounting method and maintenance
To help evaluate these key factors, we recommend following this selection process:

Performance and operating conditionsBearing type and arrangementBearing sizeLubricationOperating temperature and speedBearing interfacesBearing executionSealing, mounting and dismounting
Each icon represents a step in the process.
The process provides a straightforward step-by-step approach that shows the general relationship between each step. By clearly defining and naming the steps in this way, it should be easier to find information on a specific topic. In reality, however, you will find interdependencies that require you to loop back and forth between the steps.

SKF support

SKF application engineering service

The SKF application engineering service provides expertise to help and support you with your technical needs.

Drawing on a wealth of experience, and supported by a global network of experts in a wide range of industries, local SKF application engineers work with original equipment manufacturers and end users to help and support them with their challenges.

Following a step-by-step application analysis process, and using SKF online and proprietary calculation tools, SKF application engineers can evaluate correct bearing type and size, and other requirements such as lubrication, fits and sealing, in order to obtain the right application solution and achieve reliable rotating equipment performance. → Supporting calculation tools, below.

Contact the SKF application engineering service through your local SKF representative if you have any questions, or require any assistance, when using the bearing selection process guidelines or information in the product sections.

Supporting calculation tools

In the early stages of the application analysis and design process, bearing selection is initially made using various assumptions and, as the process progresses, additional input is included to fine tune results
SKF can support you throughout this process with our engineering software tools (diagram 1), ranging from easy-to-use online tools, based on formulae provided in this and other sections on skf.com, to our most sophisticated simulation systems incorporating the latest theories.
Online tools

The SKF online engineering tools (diagram 1) provide functionality to:

  • search for bearing data based on designation or dimensions
  • calculate many useful bearing and application related parameters, including bearing basic rating life, SKF rating life, minimum load limit, shaft/housing tolerances and fits, relubrication intervals
  • evaluate simple bearing arrangements
  • generate drawings of bearings and housings that can be used in most commercially available CAD programs
SKF SimPro Quick
SKF SimPro Quick (diagram 1) is bearing simulation software that provides functionality to rapidly evaluate the design of bearing arrangements, and their field performance, based on relevant application requirements and conditions. In addition to the basic analysis provided by the online tools, it enables you to determine bearing load distribution and the effects of bearing stiffness and bearing clearance.

SKF SimPro Quick is intuitive, quick to learn, follows the SKF process for application analysis and bearing selection, and enables you to take greater advantage of SKF engineering know-how. It is fully compatible with the SKF SimPro platform, thus allowing you to easily exchange and discuss results with your SKF representative.

SKF SimPro Expert
SKF SimPro Expert (diagram 1) is the mainstream bearing application program used within the SKF Application Engineering community. It is a sophisticated bearing simulation system that enables analysis of complex systems, such as multi-shaft systems, at a deeper level than SKF SimPro Quick. It provides a wealth of functionality including:
  • most of the needed modelling functionality for rotational analysis in general industry applications
  • extensive analysis options for system behavior, such as clearance effects, detailed rolling contact stress distribution
  • design of experiments (DOE)
SKF SimPro Expert has also the option to add advanced modules for further analysis, as for example impact of bearing performance with a flexible support.

For more information regarding SKF SimPro Expert and how it could help you, contact your local SKF representative.

SKF BEAST
SKF BEAST (Bearing Simulation Tool) (diagram 1) is a software simulation tool that enables SKF engineers to study the detailed dynamic behavior within a mechanical sub-system, such as a bearing, under virtually any load condition.

It is a multibody system with special focus on transient conditions and detailed geometry and contacts, thus enabling detailed analysis, for example, of bearing cage behavior and its wear mechanisms.

This enables the “testing” of new concepts and designs in a shorter time and with more information gained compared with traditional physical testing.

For more information regarding SKF SimPro Expert and how it could help you, contact your local SKF representative.


SKF is constantly developing its engineering software tools for SKF engineers and customers to support them in obtaining solutions that are technically, commercially and environmentally optimal.
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