Posted at Thursday, 19 May, 2022

Engineered Reliability with SKF's Food Line Blue Range

Paul Skade
By Amy Jasper
Bearings Product Manager, ERIKS UK & Ireland

I started working for ERIKS in 2006 as a purchasing assistant after working as a tax advisor for the HMRC. Throughout my caree...

Read full bio

We have one expectation of the food business. Perfect hygiene. And rightly so too. Despite the dazzling surfaces on the outside of our processing equipment, the hidden bearings and housings are typically the source of significant problems.

Engineered Reliability with SKF's Food Line Blue Range


However, the washdown techniques we employ to keep our equipment squeaky clean can cause further problems. Water penetrates the seals, breaking down and emulsifying the grease, resulting in poor reliability and possible contamination.

A major vegetable processor in the UK was experiencing exactly these significant reliability issues with conveyor bearings and incurring considerable maintenance costs. The operational problems had been ongoing for several years. Typically, the customer was only achieving a maximum 3 to 6 months service life of their current bearing units, despite good maintenance practices and regular regreasing.


Caustic contamination conundrum

The harsh nature of the wet and humid environment coupled with caustic cleaning and high-pressure rinsing made operating conditions extremely difficult. Other bearing solutions had failed to offer any significant return on investment. 

That's why the customer contacted SKF and ERIKS to provide a suitable solution to meet hygiene requirements and improve reliability and productivity. Following an application inspection, it was suggested that switching the conveyor bearings to SKF's Food Line Ball Bearing Units would significantly impact reliability and performance and be the answer to many of the customer's problems.

With six new patented submissions and three design protections, the SKF Food Line bearing range has been engineered to be relubrication-free. Each unit is filled with purpose-designed, food-grade, allergen-free grease that is contained safely and protected by an innovative, effective sealing arrangement.

Manufactured from inert, chemical-resistant hydrophobic polypropylene (PP), with long glass fibres for additional strength, the Food Line bearing range is designed with hygienic smooth surfaces, purposely shaped for self-draining. And if damaged, the distinctive food-grade blue colour is easy to detect optically.


A new approach to bearing sealing

An innovative rubber base seal is injected into the housing and co-moulded to fill the gaps between the structure and machine frame. A stop limiter around the housing bushes allows optimal bolt tightening torque while maintaining a hygienic seal.

A blue PP anchoring and sealing end cover are securely twist-locked into place, with indicator dots to signify correct positioning. The back seal, also mounted from blue PP, prevents contaminants from entering into the bearing unit via the shaft. In addition, it provides static sealing against the housing and dynamic and rotary sealing against the shaft, with no spring components to enter the foodstuffs accidentally.


Proactively protecting reliability

Once installed, the customer was able to extend the mean time between failure by a minimum of 300% whilst also removing the need to relubricate the bearings, removing costly lubricant and manpower hours. 

In addition, the innovative hygienic design of the SKF Food Line units offered increased protection against bacterial growth, improving food safety. And, of course, the blue colour of the components increase optical detectability should any damage occur, so you could say the benefits were clear to see!

The solution was replicated across several production lines, increasing the annualised savings realised to £206,500 across the plant. With these small steps and savings taken together, you'd find it hard not to put forward a robust economic case for switching to SKF's hygienically designed Food Line - Blue Range. So now, how can we help you?


For more information on Bearing Solutions and to get in touch with one of our ERIKS Specialists, please contact your local ERIKS Service Centre, who will be happy to discuss your options.

#SKF #ERIKS #LetsMakeIndustryWorkBetter #Bearings #Innovation #Solutions #Food

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