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Bringing Cleanliness & Cost Savings to Bear

Most bearings require lubrication, which can contaminate products, plus attract dust and dirt, while plastic bushings are a lubrication-free, cost-effective replacement.

Packaging machines, from cartoning and filling devices to palletizing, labeling or inspection equipment, are constantly handling sensitive products. Since these machines must meet the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene, so must their bearing solutions. However, most bearings require lubrication, which can contaminate food products and also attract dust and dirt, which can eventually cause a bearing to seize. In comparison, plastic bushings are a lubrication-free, cost-effective replacement for most ball-bearing systems.

For these reasons, a pasta manufacturer replaced the V-grooved, track-guided roller systems used on its cartoning machines with plastic bushings from igus®. The machines, which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, each use a shuttle bucket to carry and unload one pound of pasta at a time. The bucket travels 18 feet 240 times a minute to keep in time with the machine’s load station.

iglide® J plastic bushings withstand the demanding operating requirements and have reduced the company’s annual repair costs by $7,800. A high level of cleanliness is maintained since the plastic bushings do not require any external lubrication. This is important so that oil or grease does not contaminate the pasta or its packaging.

The plastic bushings also deliver a better service life by lasting more than three times longer than the roller systems had been. If a bearing does need to be replaced, it can be done in less than two hours -- a huge contrast to the full day of downtime it used to take to rebuild just one roller system. Vibration issues have been eliminated as well, and the company reports the machines run much quieter with plastic bushings.

A manufacturer of packaging equipment for the food and pet industries also uses plastic bearings from igus®. The machines, which handle flour, sugar and various types of pet food, also operate 24/7 and are expected to last 20 to 30 years. DryLin® R linear bearings facilitate the movement of guide rods used in the machine’s trimming and pressing stations.

DryLin® R linear bearings are comprised of two parts: a plastic liner made from igus® iglide® J bearing material and an aluminum adapter that fits over the liner. The strong plastic construction gives them the ability to carry up to 30 fifty-pound bags per minute on each machine. In one 24-hour period, the bearings perform 43,200 cycles, and remain unaffected by the excessive flour and sugar dust produced during the packaging process.

DryLin® R linear bearings are also ideal for this application because they are dry-running. They do not contaminate the food items, or become clogged with flour and sugar excess like other types of bearings that require constant lubrication. Their corrosion-resistant and maintenance-free features have also helped to reduce downtime and repair costs.

In addition to DryLin® R, the packaging machines use a new type of hybrid linear bearing from igus®. DryLin® WJRM features a combined rolling-and-sliding carriage for reduced friction, and can reduce the drive force necessary to power an application by a factor of four or five. The hybrid linear bearings are used on the machine’s bag magazines, which hold packages open as they are being filled with flour, sugar or pet food.

DryLin® WJRM bearings act as a mobile arm behind the bag to prevent it from falling backwards and spilling its contents. DryLin WJRM is also dry-running and does not require messy lubricants. It is easy to install thanks to the bearing’s low profile and ability to fit into tight spaces with limited clearance.

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