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When a problem becomes an advantage

Think about the challenges you’re faced with every day

Stephen White
Stephen White, Global Food & Beverage Industry at SKF.

Whether they’re personal or professional, there’s immense satisfaction to be found in unpacking the issue, determining how to solve it, and putting the solution into action.

And sometimes, that solution doesn’t simply do away with the problem – it gives you a decided advantage. 

Turning problems into advantages is at the core of what we do at SKF. Though the items we develop may be small in stature, we know that when built in a smart, innovative manner, they can be transformative. 

If you think this sounds a little far-fetched or overly ambitious, just consider what life is like for the bearings used in baking ovens and other high-temperature applications. 

With temperatures exceeding 180 degrees centigrade and excessive levels of humidity, it’s not a question of “if” the bearings will wear, it’s a matter of “when.” As the extreme conditions degrade the bearing grease, metal-to-metal contact increases and wear accelerates. Failure isn’t far behind, unless the bearing is re-lubricated at frequent intervals. 

That said, re-lubrication is no simple task. First, you have to wait for the oven to cool to a safe temperature. Then, the bearings have to be removed, cleaned, and reinstalled. All in all, it’s a process that can cost you multiple days’ worth of production. But when the alternative is a complete failure, this complicated maintenance routine seems like the only option.

But is it?

That’s the problem our engineers explored. What they found is that these extreme conditions don’t always need to be feared – they can actually be used in an advantageous manner. 

Looking at things from this perspective resulted in an innovative bearing design that uses an oven’s inherent heat and humidity to prevent wear and dramatically improve performance. Using a graphite cage, our high-temperature bearings are tailor-made to withstand even the most extreme temperatures. And with a “sacrificial” lubrication system that prevents metal-to-metal contact without requiring constant re-lubrication, they’re equipped to perform optimally in even the hottest conditions.

So what does this mean to you? You’ll be able to reach rising production targets without a similar increase in downtime. You can cut back on maintenance costs and give your team more productive matters to attend to. And you can limit your environmental footprint by reducing the amount of grease and cleaning materials requiring disposal. 

Now that’s how you turn a problem into an advantage.

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