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Innovative ball bearings double the uptime of tire shredding machines


* bearings’ reliability and easy-change system cut costs for UK’s leading tire recycler

An innovative adapter-mounted ball bearing system has transformed the economics of maintaining Sapphire Energy Recovery’s tire shredding machines. Switching to the Dodge Grip Tight bearing, which features a flinger seal and a built-in mechanism for removing the bearing from the shaft, has completely resolved a recurrent - and expensive - repair problem.

Sapphire Energy Recovery operates high-throughput shredding machines in four major conurbations throughout the UK, providing a sustainable solution for end-of-life automobile and van tires by processing them into chips. These chips are then used as an alternative to coal in cement manufacture.

After shredding, the tire chips are graded for size by a classifier with 36 sets of bearings. The classifier shafts’ set-screw style bearings were being damaged, by both the fine metal wires in the tires, and the water used for cooling. As a result they had a life, typically, of less than 6 months.

Changing the classifier bearings could then take anything up to two hours per bearing, depending on the problems encountered and the skill of the operators. Corrosion sometimes meant that the bearings needed to be loosened by heat, for example, and in some cases the whole shaft had to be replaced.

Sapphire is the UK’s leading end of life automotive and van tire processor, and its processing centers often operate for 24 hours a day. Addressing the planned and emergency maintenance requirements of these machines became a priority for Sapphire’s Reliability Manager Andy Booth, and he called in the specialist Dodge distributor, Bearing Transmission & Pneumatics, to discuss the problem.

Bearing Transmission & Pneumatics suggested that Sapphire try a type of ball bearing from Baldor’s range called the Dodge Grip Tight. This adapter-style bearing has a mechanical maintenance feature that loosens it by simply turning a nut. The action automatically pulls the bearing off, avoiding any need for forcible removal or expansion heating - eliminating fretting corrosion and preventing shaft damage. The bearings were a little more expensive more than the set screw type that Sapphire had been using, but demonstrations - and examples of field experience in the most hostile conditions - convinced Andy Booth that the easy-off mechanism would make changeovers a predictable operation.

Sapphire purchased some Grip Tight bearings and installed them as and when the previous bearings failed. Although predictable maintenance was Andy Booth’s major requirement, it soon became obvious that the bearings offered a superior life too, as the life period came and went. The Grip Tight ’s built-in flinger seal is protecting the bearings in the hostile environment to such as en extent that they are lasting typically twice as long as the previous set screw types. Now, following the use of Grip Tight over a period of some 24 months, and a number of maintenance changeovers, Andy Booth knows that the Grip Tight justifies its reputation: changeovers are predictable and take only 15 minutes maximum following production operator training including the time required to remove and refit machine casings. Moreover, there has been no shaft damage to date.

“The aggressive nature of tire shredding meant that repairing these machines was taking up far too much of our time, and reducing our productivity”, says Andy Booth. “Grip Tight bearings have given us back predictability of maintenance, with the welcome bonus of much longer life, protecting some of our company’s most crucial assets. Our operational team now has the time to be more proactive, focusing its major efforts on preventive maintenance rather than breakdown maintenance.”

“Our work means that we tend to see a lot of bearing failures, and we’ve come to regard the Dodge Grip Tight as a genuine problem solver”, says Edward Fielding of Bearing Transmission & Pneumatics. “Although the major requirement was to simplify changeover, this bearing also manages to survive much longer in very hostile operating conditions.”


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