igus Inc. (as seen in Robotics Online)
Today, machine and equipment manufacturers are feeling more pressure than ever to reduce costs without sacrificing machine performance and this balancing act can be difficult to achieve. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) often overlook a simple solution that can have a positive, long-term impact on profitability for themselves and their customers: the elimination of bearing lubricant. By eliminating lubrication systems where possible, OEMs can reduce production costs, while at the same time making their equipment more marketable and less expensive to operate for the end users.
What are the issues with bearing lubricant? According to a major ball bearing company, 54 percent of bearing failures are lubrication-related. In a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it was estimated approximately $240 billion is lost annually (across US industries) due to downtime and repairs to manufacturing equipment damaged by poor lubrication (footnote 1). Improper bearing lubrication or re-lubrication accounts for up to 40 to 50 percent of machine failures. By eliminating lubrication from machinery, OEMs can minimize the costs and risks associated with maintenance for the end user. At the same time, costs related to the proper disposal of oil can be eliminated and the initial expenditure for ancillary components and processes (grease lines, zerks, manifolds, etc) can be decreased.
There is a lower cost, easier-to-maintain machine component that eliminates the total cost of bearing lubricants: high performance, dry running plastic bearings.