When a major UK pet food producer wanted better machine utilisation with the aim of
raising its OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by 3 points, it decided to ask
experts at bearing specialist NSK if they could evaluate processes and systems to
help with this improvement goal.
The prompt to engage NSK arrived after hearing about the company's AIP Added Value
Programme, in particular its ability to improve bearing life through a mixture of training and application engineering services. This approach focuses firmly on identifying improvement opportunities in three keys assets: people, plant and processes.
At the pet food facility, the management team was aware of various application issues
which NSK experts viewed, leading to the creation of a process map. The process map is
one of the most powerful elements of AIP as it focuses on generating a complete
documented review of the production process from start to finish, placing particular
emphasis on critical bearing applications. In this case, the process map identified five areas
for potential OEE improvement.
Trials subsequently began, initially focusing on the more costly application: the plant's pellet extruder. Here, the customer was experiencing bearing failures and loss of production
every 10-12 weeks on average.
Using analytical data from the trials, NSK determined that the existing grease lubrication
was not fulfilling the life expectancy of the bearings. The expert engineers therefore
recommended a high-viscosity oil for longer life alongside a suitably durable bearing
The customer duly replaced its existing bearings with high-quality NSK spherical roller
bearings from the company's EA series, as well as NSK spherical thrust roller bearings. EA
series bearings, which feature pressed steel cages, offer high load-carrying capacity, high
limiting speeds and high functionality under operating conditions involving elevated
temperatures, making them ideal for the pellet extruder and other applications at the pet
After reassembly, the extruder ran for 7 months without any bearing failures, resulting in
impressive cost savings of £70,000 thanks to reductions in production downtime and
maintenance. In addition, the pet food plant achieved its goal of raising OEE by 3 points.
At the request of the customer, NSK also conducted on-site bearing training for the plant's
maintenance staff, providing even more added value as part of the overall solution.
1) NSK bearings are proving integral to helping a British pet food manufacturer feed the
nation's four legged friends. Photo: alexei_tm/Shutterstock
2) NSK EA series spherical roller bearings offer high load-carrying capacity and high
limiting speeds in challenging conditions. Photo: NSK
About NSK Europe:
NSK Europe Ltd. is the European organisation of the Tokyo-based bearing manufacturer NSK, which was founded in Japan in 1916 and today employs nearly 29,882 people in its worldwide operations. The products and solutions provided by the industrial and automotive supplier can be found wherever things move. In addition
to nearly all types of rolling bearings, the company's portfolio includes housed bearings, linear technology,wheel bearing units, transmission and engine bearings and steering systems. The company is oriented to perfection in all of its business activities. Its aim is quality leadership in its industry, which it strives for through a continuous process of improvement, excellent product development, optimised production processes and
customer-oriented service processes. In fiscal year 2022, the more than 4,030 employees of NSK Europe Ltd.
generated sales of over € 893 million.
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