By implementing a programme of material substitution and longer-life lubrication technology, NSK has achieved cost savings of EUR337,600 for a manufacturer of micro wind turbines.
As a major bearing supplier to the wind turbine industry, NSK recently became involved in a micro wind turbine project because the customer was experiencing problems due to the prohibitive cost of bearings. The manufacturer was facing a stark choice: improve the purchasing and manufacturing costs for the project or leave the market.
An NSK engineer visited the customer to review the designs. This highlighted several areas where unit build cost could be reduced substantially. Following the visit, a supporting design justification report was produced, together with bearing and grease life calculations. These not only underpinned the design cost reductions, but also promised benefits such as simplified assembly procedures, and improvements in overall bearing performance, reliability and bearing life.
The customer acted upon NSK's recommendations, substituting NSK premium brand single-row radial ball bearings, where before there had been a selection of mixed-brand products, including single-row radial ball bearings and angular-contact bearings. The NSK bearings are lubricated by NSK's long-life grease, which delivers a grease life of over 200,000 hours compared to a grease life of 22,400 hours for the mixed-brand bearing package. This improvement in grease life has enabled major reductions to be achieved in maintenance requirements, thereby helping to keep the micro turbine in service substantially longer. The quantification of this improvement, in conjunction with the additional improvements gained from the NSK package, has been calculated by the customer to exceed EUR337,000.
NSK is producing similar cost-savings across other industry sectors. The company's cost saving programme looks at all aspects of bearing systems: design, specific problem applications, lubrication and even training issues. The process often starts with a detailed site survey. NSK engineers visit the customer's premises, talk to the staff and get to understand what the difficulty is. Data acquired from the visit is subsequently analysed, leading to recommendations for improvements. These improvements are then quantified, demonstrating the level of savings that can be expected as a result of adopting the NSK's proposals.
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