Reverse engineered bearing lifts spirits at distillery

When a potential issue was identified with a slewing ring bearing on a bottling machine at the oldest continuous gin distillers in the world, the company turned to the expertise of R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd

Warrington-based G&J Distillers has recently used the reverse engineering know-how of R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd to safeguard component availability and guarantee production continuity.

A history of traditional skills and distillation craftsmanship is combined with modern bottling facilities to ensure G&J Distillers maintains its reputation for producing and distributing a wide range of high-quality gins and other spirits. For example, a major component of the company’s advanced production process is a pair of Hartness Global Fill bottling machines, key elements in the production process.

“The Hartness Global Fill machines are 15 years old and, although there are currently no issues with the slewing ring bearing, we did not have a serviceable spare,” explains Production Manager Stephen Swinney. “Our existing spare had been used at some point in the past and was visibly worn. It was clear that reconditioning was required immediately as, without a replacement, machine failure could mean a shortage of supply to our customers.”

Unfortunately, Hartness no longer produces this version of the Global Fill machine and spares are unavailable. Mr Swinney therefore turned to R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd, asking for assistance in identifying the bearing, and to make  recommendations about its potential for re-use.

With no drawings available, initial measurements taken by R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd revealed that the slewing ring bearing was a bespoke unit and not a standard catalogue product from any manufacturer. With a 61" OD and 52.25" bore, the slewing ring bearing featured 30 through-holes in the inner ring and 30 tapped blind holes in the outer ring and the box was marked with packed weight of 401kg, with no further details obtainable. 

Having liaised with Rodriguez GmbH, it was agreed to ship the bearing to Germany for a thorough strip, clean and internal inspection; a process that resulted in a workable drawing. This drawing would allow G&J Distillers to make some decisions and also enable R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd. to submit a quote for a brand new bearing, as well as refurbishing the old one.

Being the quickest option, G&J Distillers initially selected the remanufactured bearing. However, after a short period of reflection, the company also decided to proceed with the new bearing as well, on the basis that it would serve as future back-up for this vital part of the bottling line. The competitive price of the new bearing was said to be a further factor in the purchase decision.

“Having one of our bottle filling machines out of commission is simply not an option,” concludes Mr Swinney. “For this reason, we were thankful of the quick and efficient response to our request for assistance and are very satisfied with the outcome. In fact, I’d rate the service provided by R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd. as 10 out of 10. We’ve previously had other products from Rodriguez and the quality is always of the highest order. Both the remanufactured and new slewing ring bearings are now held as spares, which means peace-of-mind for our production team and our customers.”

That's the spirit - reverse engineered bearing ensures uninterrupted production for the future
That's the spirit - reverse engineered bearing ensures uninterrupted production for the future

R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd

14 Old Bridge Way
SG17 5HQ

+44 (0)1462 670044

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