When one hydroelectric plant operator took an environmental stance against water pollution, it went cold turkey on its use of grease in its plants.

Grease is a common lubricant on bronze bushings, ensuring that the bronze bushings can move easily since the coefficient of friction is reduced with grease. However, since grease needs to be reapplied regularly, large amounts of grease are applied in a hydroelectric plant that uses bronze bushings.

With the environmentally-conscious decision to remove grease from its operations, the hydroelectric plant company, which currently manages a portfolio of diverse renewable energy assets, had the satisfaction of knowing that it was improving the water quality on the various waterways on which it operates in the US.

However, the decision significantly affected the wear of its bushings, particularly its wicket gate bushings, since bronze bushings immersed in water show considerable wear without the application of grease.

The bushings showed rapid wear and there was considerable wear on the wicket gate stems — the cylindrical shafts or journals to which the wicket gates are attached and that run inside the wicket gate bushings, describes the engineer that has been managing the companys hydroelectric plants for several decades.

Composite materials were offered as a solution, promising low friction and a reduced wear of the stems,” he says of the companys first attempts to overcome the problem of wear on unlubricated wicket gates. 

The first composite materials that were used to replace the bronze in the 1980s had some problems, from seating problems to water swell that caused wicket gates to seize,” he notes.

Then in the early 2000s, the company introduced Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings, and experienced little swell, good resistance to abrasive wear and high strength.

The company continues to use Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings where it is the contractor on hydroelectric plant maintenance projects.

The avoidance of emitting lubricants in the waterways is based on State regulations,” says the engineer. 

The acceptable limits and reporting duty vary from State to State but the head office of the renewable energy company in New York has taken the stance of avoiding all emissions, he says.

Since the company employed Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings (also known as guide vanes) in the 2000s, their use represents some of the longest test cases of Vesconite Hilube in this application.

The engineer notes that the environment and lubricant is ordinary river water, the quality of which varies considerably.

In hydro plants that are located on a dam with a large storage reservoir the water is usually clean because sediments settle out,” he says. 

In Run of the Riverplants, the reservoirs are small, and, at high flows, there is not enough time to eliminate the sediments,” he comments, noting that the abrasive content varies naturally from river to river, but also seasonally as the peak flow seasons churn up more sediments.

The engineer notes that the wear rate of the wicket gate bushings and stems is affected by this, and the duration of operation between repairs varies. 

There is a vast reduction in wear from the Vesconite material compared to bronze in all cases,” he states.

The company that runs many hydro projects, as well as wind, solar, distributed energy and other projects, aims to operate a high-quality clean energy portfolio responsibly.



This year Vesconite Bearings introduced additional notifications to help you better track your Vesconite orders.

When an order is despatched, clients, together with the store manager and the internal and external salespeople involved, immediately receive a waybill, invoice and an export checklist, describing the dimensions of the goods, weight, pallet size and delivery address, among other items.

A system of automatic notifications is then also triggered through Vesconite’s courier partners, which notify clients of where their parcel is and provide visibility into the supply chain.

If there is a problem and delivery is delayed, Vesconite will again send notifications of any actions that are being taken or need to be taken to solve a logistic challenge.

“Clients often thank me for my despatch notifications,” says logistics export manager Zoë Anagnostou.

“It is important for them to know when goods have left our facilities and what transit times they can expect for their products,” she notes.

How Vesconite Bearings is reducing transit times
After the many supply chain delays starting with the Covid shutdowns in 2020, Vesconite Bearings has taken on the project of reducing delivery transit times with renewed vigour this year.

The company appointed logistics export manager Zoë Anagnostou in November 2022 and tasked her with identifying potential logistics difficulties as they occur.

This has allowed Vesconite to become aware of problems early, including, for instance, queries on a delivery address, a customs payment, or an inability to deliver to a client, and allowed Vesconite to address these issues timeously.

Anagnostou also compiles reports on deliveries with transit times that exceed five days and these become priorities for immediate action.

“We are reducing in-transit delivery times even where there are exceptional circumstances,” states Anagnostou.

Zoë Anagnostou, Vesconite’s logistics export manager

Meet Zoë Anagnostou, Vesconite’s logistics export manager
Anagnostou joined the Vesconite accounts department in January 2022, responsible for freight creditors and a range of debtors. When the position of logistics export manager opened up, she embraced it and has been learning the nuts and bolts of the logistics industry since November 2022.

Anagnostou is completing her bachelor of commerce degree with a speciality in accounting. She is using her financial acumen and her rigour for following the logistics audit trail to understand logistic problems as they occur.



A New Zealand builder of composite motor yachts has forward-ordered five bearing sets for its upcoming builds later this year.

The company’s yachts range from 15 to 50 meters and the boat maker specialises in engineering excellence and quality finishes and interiors for its high-performance carbon-fibre racer-cruising yachts.

The boat maker last took delivery in October 2022 of the sixth propeller-shaft bearing that it has ordered from Vesconite Bearings.

Its Vesconite Hilube no-swell wear-resistant bearings were to go into a double-hull catamaran.

The catamaran had been created to reach a top speed of 41.5 knots through an innovative design that focused on the foil, propeller and bearings, among other components.

The New Zealand motor yacht builder is particularly proud of the speeds that its luxury motor boats reach, as well as their stability and fuel efficiency.



Preparation for repairs of marine vessels often involves precise planning.

This is why Vesconite Bearings Netherlands has already decided on the date of despatch for a Vesconite Hilube stern tube bearing that will be delivered to Vigo, located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, in March.

The order for the bearing was made in early February for a maintenance programme due to start in mid-March, notes Vesconite Bearings Netherlands MD Conrad Penzhorn.

The bearing is in stock, and will be despatched on the 13th of March using DHL’s Express Delivery Service for delivery immediately before it is required, he says.

Penzhorn believes that Vesconite Bearings may have been selected as a preferred supplier of marine bearings for the marine maintenance project because of the company’s central location in Europe.

Vesconite Bearings Netherlands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vesconite Bearings, is located in Utrecht, so stock bearings can be delivered within Europe within a day of being despatched from the facility.

“Vesconite Bearings BV is pleased to be supplying a customer in the biggest fishing port in the world,” enthuses Penzhorn.

“Our logistics preparation ensures that dry-dock fees are minimised and that repair yards receive their marine bearings when they are required,” he says.



Labyrinth seals can now be ordered from Vesconite Bearings using client specifications.

This follows the supply and successful use of Vesconite labyrinth seals by several large pump original equipment manufacturers in multiple labyrinth seal designs over the past 10 years.

Labyrinth seals are mechanical seals that provide a long path for water to flow through to prevent leakage. As the name suggests, these seals may be composed of a large number of grooves acting as labyrinth chambers. The labyrinths help reduce the leakage flow through the seals.

Vesconite bearing materials have proved valuable in these seals as they are self lubricating. As a result, during shaft rotation, when parts of the seal come in contact with the shaft, high temperatures and even galling are avoided. This is unlike traditional stainless steel and bronze labyrinth seals, where contact leads to high frictional forces, rapid increases in contact temperatures, galling and even catastrophic pump failures.

Vesconite labyrinth seals can also be designed to optimise their performance. Since there is no threat of galling, close clearances can be applied. This is important since the smaller the clearance, the lower the flow of water past the seal and the higher the efficiency of the pump.

Vesconite bearing materials offer the advantage of being more economical than their stainless steel counterparts, and much quicker to machine.

Vesconite can be machined easily to produce complicated grooves for water limiting flow and for securing the seal, and have completely replaced stainless steel parts in many pump applications.