When boating aficionado Roy McBride decided to develop repair kits for the Aries Wind Vane, he chose Vesconite Hilube for the bearings.

Aries Wind Vane self-operating steering systems are robust and can operate for 30,000 miles from purchase. When they need to be repaired, however, it is often only the PTFE bearings that need to be replaced as they may have experienced sun damage and may have become immovable due to being fitted to stainless steel components that have seized due to corrosion or a lack of lubrication.

As a result, McBride decided to choose a premier self-lubricating low-friction material, known as Vesconite Hilube, for the bearings that he would install in refurbished wind vanes.

“It doesn’t make sense to use inferior products for the bearings since this is the only part that wears out,” says Mc Bride, noting that the bearings are only lubricated with water, so Vesconite Hilube’s self-lubricating properties are advantageous since some bearings tend to only be lubricated with water as they are not accessible.

Mc Bride has refurbished five Aries Wind Vanes since he started repairing this specific component two years ago.

Engineers who have seen his choice of bearings for the refurbishments have “backed him up 100%” on his choice, he says.

Several bearings may need to be replaced during any refurbishment, including bearings that fit to the cross shaft that the wind vane is fitted to and the top-hat bush that fits to the cross shaft that links to the water paddle below it.

These are all exposed to harsh environmental conditions, including salt water and UV radiation.

Mc Bride has extensive experience with Aries Wind Vanes having completed several South Atlantic crossings using what has become known as the “silent helmsman” –  a servo-pendulum rudder mechanism, connected to a wind vane, that steers through the ship’s rudder through ropes connected to the tiller arm.

He specialises in repairing UK-made Aries Wind Vanes that require imperial parts that are difficult to obtain.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is expanding its manufacturing capabilities to meet the increasing demand for larger low-friction wear plates.

Responding to customer feedback and market trends, Vesconite Bearings is making a substantial investment in additional equipment to produce wear plates of unprecedented sizes, notes CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The company aims to introduce 8 x 4 ft (2,44 x 1.22 m) wear plates within the next year or two.

This imperial size is a standard production size in the US and many parts of the world, and is likely to also be in demand by global customers calling for larger sizes.

Vesconite has been responding to customer requirements for different plates for many years.

Customers have expressed a need for longer, thicker, and wider wear plates to reduce wear in their applications and to enhance equipment lifespan.

In response, Vesconite Bearings has already extended its product range to include wear plates up to 20 ft in length, 6 inches in thickness, and widths of 24 inches and 39 inches.

Additionally, Vesconite Bearings can bend plates as needed, providing customers with a diverse range of shapes tailored to their specific requirements.

“We are excited to make this additional strategic investment in response to the evolving needs of our clients,” says Leger.

“The expansion of Vesconite Bearings’ product range reflects the company’s commitment to innovation and meeting the unique demands of various industries,” he states.

 

 

In celebration of Vesconite Bearings’ 65th anniversary, as well as in recognition of the long service of CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who has been with the company for 32 years, Vesconite’s artisans decided to show their design, programming and machining skills by producing a gift of the first chess set designed exclusively from Vesconite’s bearing materials.

The black chess pieces, representing Vesconite Bearings’ rich history, were meticulously crafted from standard Vesconite. This low-coefficient-of-friction bearing material, invented in 1969, was specifically designed to thrive in the challenging wet and dirty conditions prevalent in South Africa’s deepest mines.

Complementing the black pieces, the white chess pieces were formed from Vesconite Hilube, an even lower-coefficient-of-friction bearing material introduced to the market in 1987. This material reflects Vesconite Bearings’ ongoing commitment to innovation and technological advancement.

The chess board itself, moreover, was a masterpiece, with black and white squares (with rounded edges) made from Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube plates, respectively. The entire composition is elegantly framed by Vesconite Superlube, a cutting-edge bearing material introduced in 2013, and placed within a frame of standard Vesconite. Notably, Vesconite Superlube boasts a coefficient of friction lower than virgin PTFE, meeting the demanding requirements for load pads in the rail sector, among other applications.

Thin sections of pink Vesconite Superlube delicately separate the squares, adding a touch of sophistication and highlighting Vesconite Bearings’ artisans’ skill at machining the thinnest parts to a great degree of accuracy.

Artisan Gaylin Van der Sandt, one of the creative forces behind this exceptional chess set, expressed, “We decided to make everything from our materials. Only a small engraved metal plate was made elsewhere.”

Noteworthy is the advanced tooling and programming skills employed in the creation of chess pieces. Using Fusion 360, artisans designed intricate details for knights, kings, queens, rooks, and other pieces, which were cut precisely on a Haas ST 25-Y live tooling machine. The complexity of the designs pushed the team to explore new functions on Fusion 360 and gain insights into the capabilities of the machines and tools, said Van der Sandt of the collaboration between a factory team that included himself, Andre Schoonbee, Herschelle Cerfontyne and Barend Spies, with the idea for the chess set originally coming from Machine Shop HOD Boeta Swart.

Schoonbee said that the most challenging pieces were the king, whose crown had to be refined using manual programming, and the knight, which needed complex programming to perfect the ears, eyes and mane.

The chess board, meanwhile, was machined using a Haas VF4 SS, a high-power milling machine on which Vesconite artisans demonstrated their knowledge of using tooling to create detailed exact parts. Discussion and engagement between the factory teams making the board and the pieces ensured that the scale of the pieces matched the board.

In a heartfelt thank-you speech, CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger expressed his awe, stating, “This is absolutely incredible. To everyone who made it, thank you so much.”

Leger and his wife, Dr Marianne Felix, shared fond memories of their daughters growing up playing chess, a strategic activity that not only stretched their minds but also fostered socialization. The chess set, they noted, will become a cherished heirloom for future generations.

This extraordinary creation not only marks a significant milestone in Vesconite Bearings’ history but also serves as a representation of the company’s capabilities and the calibre of staff, who displayed their skills admirably, Leger and Felix said.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, an innovator in bearing technology, is thrilled to announce a significant achievement – the creation of its thinnest-walled product to date. 

This groundbreaking accomplishment is attributed to Vesconite Bearings’ unparalleled technical ingenuity and advanced CNC programming capabilities.

The focal point of this achievement was the production of close-to-paper-thin wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube articulation bearing liners, which have recently undergone rigorous testing in GE90-SW-type bearings at the articulation points of S6000 trams operated by an Italian tram operator.

The bearing liners, boasting a wall thickness of 0.5 mm, have demonstrated exceptional performance and left a lasting impression on industry experts. 

Vesconite Bearings rail application engineer Jandri Ueckermann notes that her Italian tram operator client was extremely impressed with the engineering capabilities that Vesconite Bearings displayed.

The success of this project can be credited to the expertise of the machinist, Hannes Nel. He navigated the challenges associated with producing a bearing liner with such thin walls, employing unconventional methods to avoid the risk of shattering. 

A two-axes CNC lathe’s speed was significantly reduced, and meticulous tool selection ensured the precise profiling of the bearing liner’s outside and inside diameters to meet stringent tolerances.

Nel highlights the crucial role of CNC programming in ensuring the accuracy of the manufacturing process.

The dedication to precision and innovation is evident in achieving a wall thickness of 0.5 mm throughout the bowl liner – a historic milestone for Vesconite Bearings, he says, noting that this accomplishment surpasses the previous record of 0.7 mm, achieved with a less complex straight bushing.

Vesconite Bearings remains committed to pushing the boundaries of bearing technology, and this technical achievement underscores the company’s dedication to delivering cutting-edge solutions to meet the evolving needs of industries worldwide.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is pleased to announce its success at the South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC) Exporter of the Year Awards.

The company proudly received the award in the XX-Large category, recognising outstanding export performance among companies with an annual turnover ranging from R150 million to R200 million.

The prestigious SACEEC Exporter of the Year Awards ceremony took place on the 21st of November 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This event serves as a platform to celebrate and acknowledge the passion, dedication, and innovation exhibited by industry members in both local and export markets.

Entries across various categories underwent rigorous evaluation based on criteria such as marketing strategy, export turnover, local content, and active participation in national and regional export promotion activities, as well as engagement in export council member events.

One of the staff members accepting the award on behalf of Vesconite Bearings was Cassandra Peens, a dynamic young engineer at the company. Peens has played a crucial role in export promotion initiatives in 2023, participating in various export-promotion trips, notably to Europe and the United States. She has first-hand experience with Vesconite Bearings’ export promotion strategy, which has involved establishing relationships with existing and new clients through outreach programmes.

Peens expressed her pride in Vesconite Bearings’ achievements, stating, “Vesconite Bearings is particularly pleased that it has close to doubled its exports in three years.”

“We are committed to further increasing the contribution of exports to our total sales, with the goal of exports constituting 75% of turnover.”

“This goal has already been achieved in some individual months, showcasing our dedication to international growth.”

The SACEEC Exporter of the Year Award is a testament to Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to excellence, innovation, and strategic growth in the global market. The company remains focused on driving success and contributing to the advancement of South African-made products abroad.

Vesconite Bearings’ Cassandra Peens, who has played a crucial role in Vesconite Bearings’ export promotion initiatives in 2023, holds up Vesconite Bearings’ award certificate.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is taking strides towards sustainability and environmental responsibility by implementing a comprehensive solar energy solution at its Free State-based factory in South Africa.

The initiative, spearheaded by Factory Manager Robin Crabb and CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, involves a significant investment in solar infrastructure to reduce the factory’s reliance on the power grid and make substantial progress in becoming more environmentally friendly.

As of mid-November, Phase I of the project is 80% complete, with the installation of steelwork on concrete slabs to support 325 kVA of solar panels. The panels are being loaded at present, marking a crucial milestone in the transition to solar energy.

Simultaneously, Phase II is underway, encompassing the installation of an additional sub-station, the installation and commissioning of two generators, inverters with a capacity of 700 kVA, and a 500 kVA uninterrupted power supply (UPS) system.

According to Crabb, “Making the sub-station live is a significant step forward, with approximately 25% of Phase II already completed”.

The completion of Phases I and II is targeted for the end of 2023, contingent on timely equipment deliveries from suppliers.

Phase III, scheduled to commence in late December, aims to double the solar capacity by an additional 325 kVA. Challenges in steel supply may influence the timeline, but Vesconite Bearings remains committed to its sustainability goals.

Additionally, consideration is being given to purchasing a 1 MW battery system, enabling the storage of solar energy for peak consumption times during the night. This investment aligns with Vesconite Bearings’ vision for its ‘lights-out’ facility, intended to operate 24/7 for large-volume order production, circumventing challenges posed by load-shedding from South African electricity provider Eskom.

To enhance security, the company is also installing a 1.8 m electric fence around the solar system.

Leger expressed optimism about the project’s potential impact, stating, “We aim to reduce dependence on traditional energy sources, cut costs, and significantly decrease our carbon footprint”.

Vesconite Bearings is confident that these solar investments will fortify the company’s resilience against energy challenges and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future for South Africa and beyond.

The company remains dedicated to achieving its environmental and operational objectives through innovation and responsible business practices.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, a global leader in high-performance bearing and wear part solutions, is thrilled to announce the launch of its new jet-ski webstore. The webstore can be accessed at www.vesconite.com/store/jetski/

The Vesconite jet-ski webstore offers a comprehensive range of replacement SeaDoo jet-ski pump sets, specifically designed to meet the needs of jet-ski owners and repairers.

These replacement pump sets are compatible with jet-ski pump units manufactured between 2004 and 2023, providing a reliable and efficient solution for maintaining and enhancing jet-ski performance.

Vesconite wear rings, which are incorporated into the replacement pump sets, have a variety of exceptional characteristics that set them apart:

  • More power with reduced starting clearances: The design of Vesconite wear rings reduces starting clearances, improving efficiency and reducing energy consumption during start-up.
  • Longer wear life: These wear rings are engineered to withstand prolonged usage, resulting in extended operational lifespan and reduced maintenance requirements.
  • No swelling and softening: Vesconite wear rings maintain their structural integrity, unaffected by water absorption, ensuring consistent performance over time.
  • Handle abrasive sand: Vesconite wear rings are highly resistant to abrasive sand particles, ensuring reliable performance even when started close to shore.
  • No delamination or corrosion: Vesconite wear rings are immune to delamination or corrosion, providing a robust solution that maintains its integrity throughout its service life.
  • Precision machined for better power and higher speed: Vesconite wear rings are machined and not moulded, so they will remain circular.

“We are excited to bring our expertise in bearing and wear parts solutions to the world of jet-ski enthusiasts,” says Vesconite Bearings engineer Louis Gouws.

“Our jet-ski webstore offers a convenient platform for jet-ski owners and repairers to access top-quality replacement pump sets that enhance their watercraft’s performance and durability.”

Jet-ski owners and repairers seeking reliable replacement pump sets that offer unparalleled performance and longevity are encouraged to visit the Vesconite jet-ski webstore at www.vesconite.com/store/jetski/  to explore the range of products and experience the benefits of Vesconite wear rings.

 

 

The leading global copper producer has achieved exceptional results through the implementation of Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant bushings on load haul dump machines (LHDs).

Departing from traditional bronze bushings, the mining company’s adoption of Vesconite Hilube on Sandvik and Caterpillar LHD booms has led to an unprecedented increase in bushing lifespan, exceeding their initial expectations.

Previously, the company relied on bronze bushings and had a mere 1.5 months of operational life. Vesconite Hilube bushings were introduced in December 2022, with an initial goal of extending bushing life to three months.

The remarkable reality, however, has far surpassed this objective, as the Vesconite Hilube bushings have endured for an impressive nine months and counting.

This transformation has been particularly significant, with the Vesconite Hilube bushings fitted to 30 LHD booms in 2023, and only one instance of a boom fitted with Vesconite Hilube bushings requiring repairs.

Notably, the company’s repairer has reported that the bronze bushings occasionally suffered from cracking, making it clear that this is not a recurring issue with Vesconite Hilube bushings.

The copper producer has expressed its satisfaction with the results obtained and is actively exploring the expansion of Vesconite Hilube bushings for other applications.

These include trials on mining jumbos and larger LHD loaders, as well as applications for bushings associated with rear shaft oscillating movement.

Vesconite Bearings’ Argentine distributor, Vesarg, plays a pivotal role in supplying the mine with Vesconite Hilube bushing stock.

During a visit to the Chilean site, close to Santiago, where booms were being fitted with Vesconite Hilube, Leandro Panzini of Vesarg was briefed on the impressive outcomes of the Vesconite Hilube bushing testing.

This remarkable success story underscores Vesconite’s commitment to providing cost-effective high-performance solutions to the mining industry, and its capacity to transform operational efficiency and longevity.

“As the world’s leading copper producer explores broader applications for Vesconite Hilube, the mining industry, where Vesconite first proved itself, is showing itself to be an important market for Vesconite products,” says Panzini.

“Vesconite Hilube lasts much more than three times the length of bronze in this application,” he notes.

 

 

Maharba Builders, a prominent construction and building company operating in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, has recently begun to enhance the performance of its equipment by replacing traditional bushings with Vesconite low-friction no-grease bushings.

This strategic decision stems from the keen insight of Maharba Builders’ leaders, Abraham and Japie van Staden, who drew inspiration from their collective industry experience and the endorsement of Vesconite bushings within their family.

The Van Staden brothers, seasoned professionals in the construction sector, identified the distinct advantages of Vesconite bushings during their tenure at other construction firms. In addition, Japie van Staden’s father-in-law, a skilled fitter and turner, also shared his enthusiasm for the material. The confluence of these influences has propelled Maharba Builders towards the adoption of Vesconite bushings.

A key factor that has piqued Maharba Builders’ interest in Vesconite bushings is their self-lubricating properties. In the demanding environment of construction sites, where equipment maintenance is often challenging, Vesconite’s self-lubricating properties are invaluable. This allows equipment to continue operating smoothly even when greasing intervals are not perfectly adhered to, preventing costly equipment seizures.

A significant step in this transition occurred a month ago when Maharba Builders installed multiple Vesconite bushings on various pieces of equipment, including the H-frames that lift the buckets of a CAT 428F TLB (tractor loader backhoe), CAT 216B skid steer loader, and a Hitachi loader. The positive results from this initial implementation have fueled Maharba Builders’ determination to extend the use of Vesconite bushings to other equipment within the company as needed.

Maharba Builders is actively engaged in several building projects, including three house construction sites, one house renovation site, a shopping complex project, and an abattoir. In support of this transformative change and the requirement to not have machinery idle during repairs, the company orders Vesconite bushing stock and undertakes in-house machining to produce the bushings it needs to its exact requirements.

Japie van Staden expressed his enthusiasm for the shift to Vesconite bushings, saying: “Because we are on a building site, sometimes staff grease the bushings and sometimes they don’t. It’s easier for me to put something in like Vesconite, that you don’t need to grease every single time. If staff forget to grease, then it is not a problem.”

The adoption of Vesconite bushings by Maharba Builders marks a pivotal moment in the company’s ongoing commitment to delivering high-quality construction services and should increase its equipment’s longevity and performance.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has recently produced what is believed to be both the smallest and largest vanes in its history.

This achievement underscores Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to the vital engineering part that is used in air motors, vacuum pumps and concrete vibrators, ensuring their efficiency, reliability and performance.

In June, Vesconite Bearings successfully crafted the tiniest vanes to date, measuring a mere 1.3 mm in thickness, 6.3 mm in width, and 30 mm in length.

These precision-engineered vanes were specifically produced for testing by an air motor manufacturer based in Italy.

Each air motor incorporates five of these vanes, showcasing the precision and craftsmanship for which Vesconite Bearings is known.

The small vanes are made from Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superlube wear materials, both of which boast low coefficients of friction. Particularly noteworthy, Vesconite Superlube stands out as an ultra-low-friction wear material with friction levels even lower than virgin polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Testing is underway to determine the optimal wear material for this application.

Meanwhile, Vesconite Bearings has also achieved production success in the opposite direction, producing what are possibly the largest vanes it has produced to date.

Measuring an impressive 510 mm in length, 20 mm in thickness, and 150 mm in width, pairs of these sizable vanes are destined for trial in vacuum pumps by a South African vacuum pump repairer and supplier.

Crafted from Vesconite Superlube, Hitemp 160, and Hitemp 150 wear materials, these vanes offer different characteristics, including an ultra-low coefficient of friction in the case of Vesconite Superlube; incredible chemical resistance in the case of Hitemp 160; and excellent abrasion-resistant properties in the case of Hitemp 150.

The coming months will see comprehensive testing of each material – Vesconite Superlube in September, Hitemp 160 in October, and Hitemp 150 in November – to determine the most suitable wear material for this application.

Vesconite Bearings senior sales consultant Phillip de Villiers and Vesconite Bearings engineer Jandri Ueckermann describe how the manufacturing process for these vanes showcases Vesconite Bearings’ dedication to precision engineering.

For the small 1.3 mm thick vanes, the manufacturing procedure involved the challenges of machining thin plates to the desired thickness, and then profiling to shape.

“We are excited to have these large and small reference case studies that demonstrate our vane production capabilities,” says Vesconite Bearings senior sales consultant Phillip de Villiers.

“Our ability to manufacture both the smallest and largest vanes, along with our expertise in developing wear materials for distinct operational conditions, reflects our commitment to providing tailored solutions for our clients,” he notes.

“Vesconite Bearings continues to push the boundaries of engineering and innovation, reaffirming its position as an industry leader in bearing and wear solutions,” adds Ueckermann.

“With a proud history of addressing diverse needs and a forward-looking approach, the company remains at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge solutions to a global clientele,” she says.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, a pioneer in providing innovative solutions to the heavy-transport industry, has long been associated with the successful use of Vesconite bushings in the 5th wheel of freight-carrying trucks.

Its first use in this application was on the fifth wheel of an Oshkosh 66-ton truck in the 1990s.

Its use in the application demonstrated Vesconite Bearings’ commitment to delivering advanced solutions that enhance performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness.

Fifth wheels, to which trailers attach to trucks, are critical components that experience substantial wear and tear during operation.

In particular, the bearings associated with them can be damaged with frequent braking and accelerating.

As a result, when the owner of the Oshkon 66-ton truck found that his fifth-wheel phosphor bronze bushings needed to be replaced, he turned to Vesconite.

Unlike traditional bushing materials, Vesconite bushings offer numerous advantages that significantly improve the overall efficiency and longevity of the application, including:

  • Extended service life: Vesconite bushings are designed to provide longer life compared with conventional materials, ensuring reduced downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Lower shaft wear: Vesconite bushings effectively reduce shaft wear, contributing to the smooth operation of the 5th wheel and the entire truck and trailer assembly.
  • Cost savings: Vesconite bushings offer an economical alternative, costing only two-thirds of the original OEM parts, without compromising on performance or durability.
  • Machinability: Vesconite material is easy to machine to the required size, allowing for simple adaptation to worn shafts or housings. This eliminates the need for complete shaft rebuilding or housing repairs.

The successful application of Vesconite bushings in the Oshkosh 66-ton truck’s 5th wheel marked a significant achievement in the heavy-duty automotive industry and addressed wear and durability concerns.

As Vesconite continues to revolutionise heavy-transport applications, it anticipates attracting more repairers of trucks and logistics and freight firms seeking high-performance, cost-effective solutions.

 

 

Some 30 years after a robust test on Vesconite automotive bushings, mechanics and maintenance and design engineers in the automotive sector continue to use Vesconite bearing materials.

A significant milestone in Vesconite’s success in the automotive industry occurred when a prominent South African vehicle manufacturer of a global automotive brand conducted extensive testing on shackle bushings manufactured by Vesconite Bearings and compared these results to tests carried out on bronze bushings.

The results were nothing short of extraordinary.

The test vehicle, subjected to 5,000 kilometres of harsh conditions on a rigorous test track, demonstrated the superior performance of Vesconite’s bushings.

The arduous test conditions on the track were said to approximate the equivalent of 150,000 km of testing under normal conditions.

In comparison to imported bronze bushings, Vesconite’s products exhibited significantly less wear.

In fact, the vehicle manufacturer’s metrology lab concluded that Vesconite bushings could provide a lifespan three to four times longer than traditional bronze bushings.

This historic achievement underscored Vesconite Bearings’ dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the field of bearing materials; achievements like this one have been important in establishing the company’s brand name in the automotive industry.

 

 

VesArg, the Argentinian distributor of Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superlube low-friction bearing materials, is proud to announce the acceptance of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit for the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo, with VesArg having sold 500 kits for these vehicles in the last two years. This innovative solution addresses the recurring problem of suspension arm issues in these popular utility vehicles, which often require replacement needle-roller bearings.

Utility vehicle owners often encounter frequent mechanical service requirements due to the unsuitability of traditional needle-roller bearings for applications exposed to water and abrasive contaminants. These recurring problems have long been a source of frustration for vehicle owners and mechanics alike.

The Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit offers a professional and durable solution with Vesconite Hilube self-lubricating bushings. Designed to withstand the rigours of daily use, each kit is engineered to support up to 7,500 kg per arm, ensuring a significantly extended service life under optimal operating conditions.

Each Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit for Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo vehicles includes the following components:

  • two Vesconite Hilube hubs with seal holders;
  • two straight Vesconite Hilube hubs;
  • two covers to prevent dirt ingress;
  • two high-quality seals; and
  • two hardened steel tubes of excellent quality.

Key advantages of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit over traditional needle bearings:

  • Greater support surface: The Vesconite Hilube solution offers a wide support area instead of point lines, resulting in exponentially greater load capacity.
  • Homogeneous material: The simplicity of the Vesconite Hilube bushings prevents issues such as jamming due to abrasion or rust, as well as rollers coming off during assembly.
  • Preservation of housing: With continuous contact surface and no binding, the housing does not wear out, ensuring long-lasting performance.


Additional features of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit:

  • High load capacity: Vesconite Hilube supports up to 300 kg/cm2, making each set/arm capable of supporting 7,500 kg.
  • Rust resistance: Vesconite Hilube bushings do not rust or absorb water.
  • Ultra-low friction: Thanks to the ultra-low coefficient of friction of Vesconite Hilube, this system offers smooth movement and does not require regular greasing.
  • Reduced tire wear: The long service life of the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit significantly outlasts tire wear, preventing premature replacement costs.
  • Extended vehicle life: Say goodbye to unnecessary vehicle stops. Vesconite Hilube’s characteristics make it the optimal material for this application, providing a super extended useful life.

VesArg is dedicated to providing high-quality, innovative solutions to the automotive industry. With the Vesconite Hilube needle-bearing kit, vehicle owners can put an end to recurring suspension arm problems and enjoy a smoother, more reliable driving experience.

 

 

In a testament to the outstanding performance and reliability of Vesconite self-lubricating bushings, a prominent South African side-tipper manufacturer has doubled its monthly orders for side-tipper bushings.

This substantial increase in orders reflects the manufacturer’s confidence in Vesconite Bearings’ superior products, customer satisfaction and excellent pricing.

The manufacturer’s confidence in Vesconite self-lubricating bushings is further demonstrated by a noteworthy shift in its buying patterns. In the last year, the company has adopted a proactive procurement approach by placing blanket orders and securing monthly supplies several months in advance to ensure consistent stock availability. This strategic move acknowledges Vesconite’s importance as a key supplier of parts.

Vesconite self-lubricating bushings, known for their exceptional performance, are superior to materials such as nylon and bronze in this application.

Vesconite bushings are self-lubricating, a crucial benefit when dealing with abrasive materials such as sand during transportation. Unlike greased lubricants, which can turn gritty, forming an abrasive paste, Vesconite’s self-lubrication ensures long-lasting durability even in challenging conditions.

Another standout feature of Vesconite is its exceptional dimensional stability. This quality sets it apart from competing nylon parts, which are prone to swelling in moist environments. In contrast, Vesconite bushings remain unaffected, ensuring reliable performance in various operational settings.

The Vesconite bushings in question play a pivotal role as the connecting point between the tipper body and the chassis of side-tipper trailers.

Each side-tipper body utilises two Vesconite bushings, with a bushing employed on each chassis pivot mounting, describes Tristen Wintershoven, Vesconite’s transport application engineer.

He notes that these essential pivot points enable side tippers to efficiently unload bulk materials, such as sand, gravel, or demolition debris, adjacent to the tipper truck using a hydraulic system that tilts the tipper body.

The preference for Vesconite self-lubricating bushings underscores the side-tipper manufacturer’s commitment to delivering high-quality, reliable equipment for the efficient unloading of bulk materials —a practice particularly valued in Africa’s mining, construction and road-building industries.

 

 

Ten years ago, a large container vessel that on a typical voyage sails from Japan to Singapore, South Africa and Argentina and through to Brazil could not be steered.

It could not move in a straight direction and turned in a circle over the open ocean.

It was a ship owner and crew’s worst nightmare, as the Panama-registered vessel, with a dead weight of almost 40,000t, followed its own path.

The container vessel was eventually towed to the nearest port and various causes were investigated, including the metre-diameter rudder bushing, which was found to be at fault.

The rudder bushing had been replaced three months previously and, despite the specification being for Vesconite, a dimensionally-stable polymer suitable for underwater applications, a moisture-absorbing nylon rudder bushing was installed.

The third-party-supplied nylon bushing swelled and eventually seized to the shaft, preventing the rudder from executing the necessary action to allow the ship to continue to its destination.

Towing, dry dock and consulting engineer fees, including a call-out from Vesconite Bearings to the port, resulted in significant costs well over what a bonafide Vesconite rudder bushing would have cost.

The lesson: there is no doubt that piracy and counterfeiting are significant issues globally, even among items that one commonly does not expect to be counterfeited. This can have a costly effect on businesses that use them either knowingly or unwittingly.

The prevalence of counterfeiting

The International Chamber of Commerce in 2008 found that the sum of global counterfeit goods came to USD650-billion each year and projected that the value of counterfeit and pirated goods could total USD1.77-trillion in 2015. It is estimated that pirated and counterfeit goods have cost 2.5 million jobs globally.

Other figures that have been quoted include those provided in a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) press release, which stated that up to USD250-billion and 750,000 jobs could be the cost to the US economy of counterfeit and pirated goods, and those quoted by the German Business Action Group against Product and Trademark Counterfeiting, which has argued that there would be 70,000 additional jobs in Germany if brand and product piracy were eliminated.

Apparel, electronics, toys, medication, food, wine, cosmetics and cigarettes are some of the products that have been worst affected by piracy and counterfeiting, and have been linked to the drug trade, money laundering and terrorism. Other sectors have also not been spared, although their counterfeiting may not be as extensive.

As a result, buyers of even the most innocuous products, such as polymer bushings, might want to also think about piracy and counterfeiting.

The prevalence of polymer bearing and bushing counterfeiting

To Vesconite Bearings’ knowledge, there have been no consolidated studies into polymer bearing and bushing counterfeiting. The company mainly has evidence from concerned would-be clients as well as anecdotal evidence from others on the occurrence of this activity in both critical and non-critical applications.

What is more clear is the evidence of bearing and bushing counterfeiting and polymer counterfeiting, as separate counterfeiting types, rather than on copy-cat polymer bearing and bushings specifically.

These two industries may be especially prone to counterfeiting since bearing and bushing companies as well as polymer companies:

  • often have strong brand power, developed by producing quality products;
  • can have considerable global logistic, distribution and supplier networks that may be difficult to police;
  • can have high prices as a result of considerable raw material, engineering development and technology inputs — and these prices may act as an incentive for counterfeiters and purchasers of counterfeit goods who seek to reduce the cost of purchases; and
  • may sell into developing countries in which the risk of discovery and prosecution is low and the penalties if caught are not prohibitive.

In the bearing and bushing sphere, various companies are taking an active stance against the sale of counterfeit items. Some companies offer authentication apps and invite users to email photos of suspected counterfeit products to them. Some have embarked on legal proceedings against counterfeit dealers and many have been active in the press denouncing those who use their company brand without permission, giving users the impression that they are buying original guaranteed parts.

There is also an international campaign to encourage awareness of the prevalence of counterfeit bearings that is supported by some large bearing manufacturers.

Engineered polymers, meanwhile, are also being threatened by counterfeiters intent on using a well-established brand name to sell an inferior product, as a recent high-profile case that resulted in automotive recalls attests.

Manufacturers have responded by introducing various overt and covert methods to identify their products.

Vesconite Bearings, for instance, includes identifying labelled stickers on its full-length rods, hollow bars and plates, with a green sticker appearing on its Vesconite polymer and a blue one appearing on its Vesconite Hilube polymer. It also has printing over stretches of the product, which gives the polymer name, batch number and measurements.

In addition, Vesconite Bearings issues material certificates that accompany its material and these should be obtainable even where its polymers are being bought through a third party.

As a first step though, Vesconite Bearings encourages users to know the product and conduct their visual inspection of the product. It also suggests some ways of identifying different polymers.

Advice for buyers

There are various measures that buyers can take to ensure that they have a genuine polymer bushing, says Vesconite Bearings.

Engage with the manufacturer

Many manufacturers of polymers sell their products directly to the public. Products sold in this way are guaranteed to be the original specified material.

Manufacturers that use third parties to sell their polymers will have a database of these suppliers. If a user or buyer suspects that their supplier may not be a legitimate source of verified products, the original manufacturer can be contacted to verify that the supplier is known.

Manufacturers, whether they sell directly to the public or through third parties, should be able to supply a conformance or material certificate. This is a warranty that the material being purchased is what is stated on the certificate, and can provide peace of mind for the user.

Know your polymers

Users should carry out a visual inspection to ascertain that the product they are purchasing or have purchased is the correct one. A manufacturer can describe the visual characteristics of the polymer and, if that polymer does not conform to this, chances are that it is not the polymer that was specified.

Even a visual inspection is not enough to ensure that the polymer that is being used is what it claims to be though, as some products are marketed by unscrupulous polymer dealers who match polymer colours to persuade users of a particular polymer’s authenticity.

A small piece of the polymer can, however, be burnt if there is some doubt of the authenticity. Nylon will smell like burnt hair, while polypropylene and polyethylene smell like candle wax or paraffin, for instance.

The material can also be exposed to battery acid. Polytetrafluoroethylene and polyethylene will not be affected, but acidic fumes may be released from nylon, although different fillers may increase the resistance of nylon to acid.

Hardness is also a way to determine which polymer you are dealing with, with most nylons, for instance, becoming softer when they are immersed in water or exposed to moisture.

Be aware of costs

If the price is considerably lower than you would expect, chances are that a counterfeiter may have replaced the specified material with an inferior polymer. It would be best to know the quoted price of a polymer is if obtained from the original manufacturer.

The dangers of counterfeit products

Brand collateral

Counterfeiters often prey on companies that have genuine brand power and are trusted among buyers. Since buyers typically believe that their purchase is a genuine product, they can become disillusioned with a brand if the copycat version does not perform as well as the manufacturer’s brand. This happens in the case of bearings and bushings that may be poor replicas of the original ones. This also happens in the case of imitation polymers, which may not have the desired characteristics of the specified required polymer and may, for instance, degrade when exposed to ultraviolet light, offer limited resistance to solvents and chemicals, or relax and weaken under long-term loading.

Cost of doing business

If polymer bushings and bearings fail catastrophically or wear prematurely, expensive production downtime or equipment breakdown can result. This can increase the cost of doing business and could, ultimately, result in company closures if the costs related to the failure push operating or capital expenditure costs beyond acceptable levels.

For the manufacturer of the copied parts or polymers, the costs to protect and authenticate genuine parts may have to increase too, with increasingly sophisticated measures having to be employed.

Economic damage

The cost to manufacturing host countries can be considerable. Many associations and companies involved in combatting counterfeiting quote the number of jobs that might be added to the economy if counterfeiting was stopped, the cost of doing business was decreased and the profitability of doing business was increased.

In addition, tax losses can result from undeclared manufacturing, and policing costs can increase as governments are expected to enforce intellectual property rights and prosecute those that infringe on them.

Critical applications

Some applications in which polymer bushings are being used are regarded as critical and there may be health and safety implications if the bushings fail.

The outlook for counterfeiting

It seems that counterfeiting is growing with the global economy despite moves by manufacturers and host and supplied nations to stop the flow of these illicit goods.

Both manufacturers and countries continue to step up their responses to counterfeiting, aware of the potential effects of this trade.

Customers, in turn, need to also become aware of the dangers of counterfeiting and buyers especially should be knowledgeable about the dangers of purchasing cheaper copy-cat products that may not meet the specifications of the engineering team.

Buyers can be under considerable pressure to meet performance targets, but, as in the example of the counterfeit rudder bushing, they should ensure that those they report to are aware that purchasing costs can only be brought down by a certain percentage and that the purchasing of counterfeit goods that do not meet specifications should be avoided.

 

 

When engineers at Hoover Dam determined that the original cast iron lantern rings built into some of its turbines needed to be replaced, they were looking for a solution to help them overcome the corrosion issues they experienced with the cast iron.

The maintenance team also faced another challenge. The Colorado River serves as a water source for the Hoover Dam hydropower station, and the water in this area is commonly referred to as “hard water” due to its high mineral content, specifically high levels of calcium and magnesium ions. Aluminium lantern rings that were first tried as a replacement, were corroded by chemical reactions with the minerals in the water. 

Having used Vesconite Hilube bearing material in other applications, such as guides on their pressure relief valves, the engineers were familiar with the no-swell, non-corrosive properties of the material and also with Vesconite Bearings’ capability to create large-diameter parts such as these 44-inch diameter lantern rings (Ø1,100mm). Vesconite Hilube also had the added advantage that it is not chemically attacked by the “hard water”. 

Two lantern rings were supplied, one of which was divided into two segments and another of which was divided into three segments. Like the lantern rings Vesconite Bearings makes for pumps, the large-diameter hydroelectric power plant lantern rings were easily machined and included the necessary flush holes that would cool the shaft on which they were located.

“Our experienced staff in the machine shop can machine these large-diameter parts with the necessary accuracy,” notes Monique Potgieter, the application engineer who assisted the Hoover Dam team with the design and supply of the lantern rings.

“Even though not all lantern rings are designed to run in close proximity to the shaft, it is important to know that our materials can be used with small clearances. This will result in better shaft support and stability, all the while you’ll have no worries of contact between the shaft and the lantern ring,” she says.

“Vesconite’s low-friction materials are non-galling, and occasional contact with the shaft will not result in damage,” Potgieter adds.

The two lantern rings were supplied in early 2022, and are the largest lantern rings Vesconite has produced to date.

 

 

When a concrete vibrator manufacturer had difficulties with the vanes installed in its vibrators it sought a solution from Vesconite Bearings – and experienced encouraging results.

Concrete vibrators are used to remove the air bubbles from concrete mixes to reduce the number of voids, making stronger concrete that is less prone to cracking.

Various vibrator designs are used, including vibrators attached to the outside of steel moulds into which concrete is poured to obtain concrete pre-cast elements.

The concrete vibrator manufacturer that eventually tested Vesconite Superlube had a pneumatic vibrator design that was attached to moulds. The proprietary design used vanes to turn an eccentric rotor to create vibration.

However, in-field trials with different vane materials produced unsatisfactory results since vane swelling, delamination and excessive wear occurred.

This is when Vesconite Bearings was consulted and it provided the concrete vibrator manufacturer with samples of Vesconite Superlube, a bearing material with a coefficient of friction lower than polytetrafluoroethylene and providing a much higher load capacity with ultra-low wear rates.

Vesconite Bearings supplied test vanes to the concrete vibrator manufacturer’s specifications in 2021; the vanes were required to have recesses machined out at specific spacing intervals on the flat side of the vane face.

Long-term in-house testing was completed in July 2023. Upon stripping the concrete vibrator and measuring the Vesconite Superlube vanes, negligible to no wear was detected.

Vesconite Bearings senior technical consultant Phillip de Villiers, who has been providing technical support for the project since its inception, believes that the success of Vesconite Superlube in the application can be attributed to several factors.

“Vesconite Superlube’s low coefficient of friction and high load capacity were vital since these characteristics ensured the smooth rotation of the vanes and limited the likelihood of the vanes breaking.”

“Vesconite Superlube’s dimensional stability was also important,” says De Villiers.

The compressed air inside the concrete vibrator is lubricated with oil but, since water and moisture may be present, due to the absence of compressed air dryers at some users, the oil may be washed out and the vanes need to be swell-proof, he comments, noting that having no-swell Vesconite Superlube vanes ensures that the vanes do get stuck inside the rotor slot.

The concrete vibrator manufacturer was pleased with the results of the in-house trial and in-field trials carried out concurrently at multiple construction sites.

The vanes that were installed in the vibrators operated well at 5,000 to 15,000 rpm producing high-quality pre-cast concrete blocks that are used extensively in Europe for the construction of industrial and commercial buildings.

 

 

A large freight-rail operator in Australia has approved Vesconite Hilube brake linkage bushings for its locomotive fleet, to replace bushings in its fleet’s brake levers and improve its park brake performance.

Brake linkage bushings are essential to brake rigging systems, which distribute braking forces from the brake cylinder to the various wheels using rods and levers linked with pins and bushings.

“The Australian company was looking for three different bushings from a self-lubricating material able to withstand high loads,” describes Vesconite Rail COO ZanĂ© Easton.

“Reduced wear and the ability to withstand high loads are critical for brake linkage bushings in the rail industry,” she notes.

Vesconite and the Australian company first began to discuss bushing materials in 2019.

In May 2021, the conversation became more focused on the brake linkage bushings’ specifications.

Two months later, an initial set of Vesconite Hilube bushings was installed on a locomotive for on-track testing.

Subsequent monitoring showed that the Vesconite Hilube bushings demonstrated minimal wear during each inspection.

Metallic and nylon brake linkage bushings have proved inadequate by past users and have been associated with a lack of park brake force and unfortunate incidents involving brake failure.

The metallic brake linkage bushings tend to exhibit excessive wear, leading to the horizontal and vertical misalignment of the top lever with the brake cylinder and, consequent, brake failure.

Nylon brake linkage bushings, meanwhile, soften in humid conditions, which can lead to loss of compressive strength and creep ⎻ and lessen the effectiveness of a locomotive’s braking system.

“Increasing the efficiency of the brake system without changing the brake rigging design can be accomplished by using our self-lubricating bushings with a low coefficient of friction to limit the frictional losses in the system,” Easton states.

She says that rolling stock operators have used Vesconite Hilube bushings to reduce wear, improve braking efficiency, decrease maintenance costs, and prevent brake seizures since the material does not swell and has a low thermal expansion.

Railway procurement managers were also encouraged to buy Vesconite Hilube because of the shorter lead times when ordering Vesconite materials.

However, the deciding factor in choosing the more efficient brake rigging system bushings, which can operate at a 1:40 gradient, was a requirement to reduce mechanical losses in the system. This ties in with the desire of the rail industry to increase safety and to prevent infrastructure damage, including to derailed container wagons, train tracks and overhead power lines.

 

 

Vesconite wear rings should be considered for many of the horizontal split-case pumps operating in the harsh South African mining and metallurgical environment.

Indeed, the company’s wear rings are chemically inert in many cases.

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the bearing materials that are machined to make the wear rings, has tested its polymers’ chemical resistance to many mild acids, mild alkalis, organic chemicals, solvents, hydrocarbons, oils and fuels, and has a chemical resistance chart that shows chemical resistance for many chemicals.

The polymers have demonstrated chemical resistance at 25°C to many common chemicals found in the mining sector, including sulphuric acid (10%), nitric acid (10%), petrol and diesel, among a host of other chemicals.

The manufacturer advocates its products’ use where wear rings are exposed to water-cyanide mixtures and acid mine drainage.

“Our products are suitable for this type of application,” Vesconite advises, commenting that the wear rings will be suitable for similar harsh mining and metallurgical conditions globally.

Vesconite Bearings’ wear rings, which are designed to seal the pressure leakage of the liquid between the inlet of the impeller and the pump casing, can be designed to run with smaller clearances between the ring and casing. This means a higher pumping efficiency due to a lower bypass.

If the wear rings happen to make contact with the housing no damage is caused as the wear rings will conform to the new size and re-establish a close clearance.

 

 

A Turkish OEM that supplied a Nile River project with one of its pumps that had been fitted with Vesconite Hilube polymer components in late 2018 reports that the line shaft bushings continue to operate well.

The OEM uses Vesconite Hilube in many of its most challenging projects, and this is why it elected to use the polymer bushing material in a project to pump river water from the Nile River.

The project is associated with abrasive water with a large proportion of sand particles, which hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube would be ideal for, says Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Phillip de Villiers.

In addition, since Vesconite Hilube is chemically inert and does not react with mild acid or alkaline chemicals, it is particularly appropriate for river water from the Nile which, while it has acceptable water quality, is known to be polluted with agricultural, industrial and household waste.

 

 

Vesconite’s ability to withstand various chemicals has been proven in an ultrasonic cleaning application, where bushings made from the chemically-resistant material were fitted to an ultrasonic cleaning machine designed to handle 170,000 parts per day.

The bushings were fitted to the transport cages on the conveyor.

They were immersed in the cleaning liquid, which acted as the only lubrication, and were in contact with the swarf from the cleaning process.

Ultrasonic cleaners are typically used to clean complex parts that may have intricate holes.

They typically require hard, non-absorbent materials that remain unaffected by cleaning fluids.

Vesconite replaced metal-coated bearings that did not perform well in the dirty application because of the thin layer of bearing material before metal-to-metal wear occurs.

Full-thickness Vesconite bushings gave a long life even when immersed in contaminated cleaning solutions.

 

 

The first “Gas-in-a-Box” system, allowing users to fill small liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, was deployed in 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. The system was developed to fulfil a need for safe gas filling in rural and informal settlements in Southern Africa.

The system’s pumps were fitted with Vesconite piston-rod bushings and composite piston discs that offer:

  • Durability — Long-wear life is superior to other materials, including nylon and bronze.
  • Low wear on metal parts even when running dry running — They are made from self-lubricating materials to run dry for short periods. 
  • Smaller clearances — Alternative products generally require large clearances because of temperature changes that can occur when the gas changes phase as a result of disconnecting hoses. The system’s material can operate with small clearances.
  • A large temperature range — Pump components must be able to withstand the typical liquid and gas temperatures of butane or propane. At atmospheric pressure, butane boils at approximately -1°C (-30°F). This material is suited to temperatures ranging from -60°C (-76°F) to 65°C (150°F) and will not degrade or become brittle at this gas’ boiling point or at its typical liquid-phase temperature.

Creating opportunity

At the first installation site in Cape Town, the public was filling small gas cylinders from a large upside-down cylinder, which resulted in accidents and cylinder under-filling. The gas-in-a-box system was installed to eliminate these problems.

“The low noise was a pleasant surprise,” said the manager of a Gas Mart franchise, who uses the system as his only pump during the South African winter months.

Gas Piping Services (GPS) created a business opportunity for small and microenterprises by offering them secure gas filling sites that can be locked every night with the distribution of gas cylinders from the gas suppliers to the small businesses.

A business plan was made available to these entrepreneurs, allowing them to gain funding from financial institutions and the gas supplier, which wished to enter the rural and informal sectors.

Gas-in-a-box ventures are designed to support job creation and new business opportunities. The gas supplier can enter into rental agreements with new small businesses or international funding organizations.

GPS aims to grow the LPG distribution market by designing the system with reliable filling equipment in a cost-effective filling containment.

GPS Director AJ de Wet worked with Mevaco Pumps on the pumps included in the system.

It is a natural progression to use the same quality pumps in the LPG industry, said De Wet in 2016, noting that some modifications were required to ensure small LPG cylinders could be filled quickly and that the system was durable under harsh conditions.

The pump supplied higher delivery volumes and the low noise was well-received in congested commercial areas close to housing, said De Wet. The 220-volt motor proved ideal for these areas, and the gearbox runs smoothly with no heat generated by the gearbox, motor or pump.

An important feature of the pumps is that the piston-rod bushings and piston discs, made out of low-friction materials for long life, have high dimensional stability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness and the ability to withstand temperature changes.

Three models are available:

  • A hand-filling plant with a hand pump capable of filling small LP gas cylinders in 2.5 minutes
  • An electrical filling machine with an electric-driven filling pump with the capacity to fill a 9-kg LPG cylinder in less than three minutes.
  • An electronic filling machine with an electric-driven filling pump with the capacity to fill a 9 kg LPG cylinder in less than three minutes, but with extra pump controls to prevent over- or under-filling of gas cylinders.

The system’s patented design provides the small dealer with a one-man operation that offers protection from the weather during filling and has all the safety features of a large filling site with no combustible material used during construction. It includes:

  • A lockable steel gas box with ventilation to prevent accumulation of gas
  • A nonslip working area with storage space for the 4 by 48 kg cylinders inside the box when locked
  • A reliable, quiet hand or electrical pump requiring no maintenance
  • A basic or advanced cylinder scale up to 9 kg capacity
  • A liquid manifold for up to 4 by 48 kg cylinders
  • Liquid hoses to and from the LPG pumps with quick-acting valves
  • An optional solar panel with light and cell phone charger
  • Custom colour coding and business signage
  • Safety signs

The system was specifically sized to be the same as a pallet with forklift slots below to allow distributors to transport them in manageable loads and large quantities.

A growing LPG market

Demand for LPG is increasing as a result of an unreliable electricity supply in the subregion. The South African electricity parastatal has experienced electricity supply constraints because of ageing power stations. It had limited additional electricity capacity coming on stream.

This has resulted in the LPG market experiencing unprecedented growth over the last five years as consumers turn to gas as an alternative to electricity. DeWet said that because South African refineries could not sustain the demand, the gas industry went into overdrive and started building a coastal storage capacity.

Several organisations had to source gas and gas filling equipment, while the current supplier could not sustain the growth, and cheaper imported equipment disappointed the local market.

These conditions led to many people seeing an opportunity to fill gas cylinders, even with unsafe filling equipment. The system has the opportunity to provide a safe solution to the cylinder filling.

Two of the three available system models have been sold in South Africa and neighbouring countries, said De Wet. His company plans to offer national and international service and distribution via its gas suppliers network, backed by the Gas Technician Network.

Most rural and informal settlements in Southern Africa are still dependent on wood and coal, and this has resulted in household air pollution and several health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, pneumonia and other respiratory problems, particularly among women and children. These issues resulted in high demand for LPG as a solution for reducing household pollution.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube no-swell lubrication-free bearings will be installed as the ladder pump bearings on a dredge that is currently undergoing a major maintenance overhaul.

This follows a field trial where the dredge owner installed the Vesconite Hilube bearings side-by-side with a competing elastomeric bearing material.

The test started in May 2022 and the bearings were inspected in May 2023. It was found that Vesconite Hilube offers the same wear performance at a more affordable price.

The ladder pump bearings support the shaft that runs along the length of the ladder and drives the ladder pump. The ladder is the component which is lowered into the water and, at the end of it, sits the dredge cutter head, the piece of equipment that cuts into the sediment or rock. The ladder pump sits a little higher up and the purpose of the ladder pump is to transport the sediment to the main dredge pumps, which are huge pumps that can move the sediment miles away. 

Given the good performance and cost-effectiveness, five large double-flanged Vesconite Hilube split bearings will be fitted to support both 6” ladder pump shafts during this docking.

“The dredging company tries not to take any dredge out of service for maintenance and repairs so, if the dredge is not on a job, the company replaces everything that would require replacement before the next maintenance interval instead of risking a failure during operation,” describes marine application engineer Monique Potgieter, noting that the bearings that were previously installed had to be replaced once a year and sometimes twice or thrice a year when they were working in areas with heavy sand.

“Most of the bushings that support the ladder pump shaft operate submerged when the dredge is running except for the bearing closest to the motor (since it sits too high up on the ladder to be submerged),” she explains.

“Each bearing has a flushing line that forces clean water through the bearings. Furthermore, these bearings operate in freshwater, seawater, and wherever they have a job. Being fitted on a dredge, the Vesconite Hilube ladder bearings can be exposed to dirt and grit and suspended solids in the water, but the clean flushing water helps to limit the amount of dirt that gets into the bearings.”

Vesconite Hilube is valued for its ability to work well in submerged conditions since it does not swell and can work with only water lubrication. In the year of testing, the Vesconite Hilube bearings coped well with the abrasive materials to which they were exposed. 

As a next step in the dredging market, Vesconite Bearings plans to test the performance of a bearing material known as Hitemp150, which has proven to fare well in pump applications with abrasive mediums, in applications like cutter head bearings.

 

 

The largest New Zealand gas-fired thermal power station continues to use no-swell self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube bearings in its cooling water feeder pumps.

The power station did a full refurbishment of these pumps in December 2022 and installed Vesconite Hilube bearings, which currently have a life of nine years in the application.

Vesconite Bearings’ association with the power station and its cooling water feeder pumps goes back to 1996, when the first batch of its bearings was installed, which overcame problems caused by the interruption of process water.

Before the Vesconite Hilube bearings were installed, the water supply to the pumps was occasionally interrupted by seaweed blocking the inlets. A “no cooling water” alarm sounded when this happened but the pumps could run dry for up to 45 seconds before they stopped. The previously installed rubber bearings would then often overheat and be severely damaged. This could occur before the pumps were shut down.

In its search for a solution, the power station first tried replacing the rubber bearings with an elastomeric material widely used for pump bearings. However, this material wore the expensive 316L stainless steel shafts. This proved more costly than the bearings, was more difficult to repair and entailed additional downtime.

The bearings were then replaced with Vesconite Hilube. The pumps fitted with Vesconite Hilube bearings showed no bearing or shaft wear much to the amazement of the engineers concerned.

In November 1996, the Chief Engineer committed to using Vesconite Hilube bearings for these pumps since internal lubricants in Vesconite Hilube make this an ideal material for pump bearings where there is the possibility of a dry start or an interrupted flow during operation.

At this power station, the installed running clearance was also much closer for the Vesconite Hilube bearings than was possible with the original rubber cutlass bearings. The benefit was that the impeller did not run on the casing and, as a result, the pumps were more efficient in their pumping ability and power consumption.

“We are pleased that Vesconite Hilube continues to be used in this application,” comments Vesconite New Zealand’s Eddie Swanepoel.

“Vesconite Hilube is a far better alternative than traditional pump bearing materials, many of which melt down or burn within seconds,” he says.

 

 

There are times when a simple pump design and less maintenance are preferred by pump users, especially in messy dirty wastewater applications.

Such was the case with one wastewater plant operator in South Africa, which was being called in every couple of weeks to remove, disassemble and clean wastewater pumps at one or other of the facilities that the company maintains.

Aeration pumps float on wastewater treatment dams and ensure that chemical decomposition of the dirty water occurs before the wastewater gets treated further. The pumps ensure that the water remains oxygenated and that there is aerobic decomposition rather than anaerobic decomposition, which usually results in volatile and poisonous gases such as methane.

The pump design that was in place was a standard vertical shaft pump design with an output of between 5 kW and 10 kW.

However, the bearing design was complex and prone to failure before the introduction of Vesconite materials.

The main shaft bearing design consisted of a ball bearing with carbon mechanical seals on either side of it and the ball bearing was lubricated by oil that was pressure fed into the system so the pressure of the oil was higher than the pressure of the water on either side of the carbon seals, describes Vesconite Bearings engineer Petrus Fourie.

The main problem was that the carbon seals would pick up the dirt and grime that was in the naturally abrasive water and would erode. The seals would then fail and the wastewater would enter into the ball bearing.

“Anyone who has worked with ball bearings would know that ball bearings and water are not friends,” describes Fourie.

“If you get water anywhere near them they corrode very fast, especially if it is abrasive water,” he says.

It is this problem that resulted in the pumps seizing or shutting down because the ball bearings failed, and this resulted in the aerator pump company being called out every two to three weeks for pump maintenance.

The maintenance then required fishing the pump out of the wastewater; opening it up; cleaning out all the water and dirt that was trapped inside; and replacing the ball bearings.

The aeration pump company then approached Vesconite Bearings in search of a solution and Vesconite Bearings and the pump original equipment manufacturer (OEM) went through several design iterations before an appropriate and effective design was finalised.

The first design involved the replacement of the ball bearing, two carbon seals and the lubrication system with a no-swell wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube bushing in the existing housing.

The design was a combined thrust bearing and radial guide bearing — a combined main shaft bearing and thrust bearing so it has both axial and radial running faces.

“We proposed a flange bearing design where a step on the shaft would sit on the flange,” states Fourie.

“The vertical shaft would sit on top of the flange to absorb the vertical forces, the axial forces, and then you would have the bushing that would absorb lateral forces, or radial forces,” he says.

“In a pump that uses plain bearings from the start, you have a separate thrust washer or wear ring and a main shaft bearing,” Fourie notes.

“But here we hybridised the two parts,” he says noting that, because the ball bearings absorbed the axial force, Vesconite Bearings designed a plain bushing also to take on the axial force.

However, the first design proved inadequate in testing on a test bench with dirty water in the OEM company’s workshop.

None of the water that followed through the pump got to the flange face and this resulted in that particular face overhearing and melting.

“I suggested that the pump company cut some grooves on the flange face to allow the water to flush through,” notes Fourie.

“I also suggested that they add a stainless steel collar to the shaft, which would increase the area on to which the axial force applied,” he says, adding that, if you increase the area, you would decrease the pressure and decrease the overall load on the bearing so it is less likely that it would overheat.

This second design worked better, but a couple of the grooves got blocked up on the axial face because of the dirty water and, again, that resulted in the bearing overheating.

Fourie further altered the design and suggested that the pump OEM switch its bearing material to Vesconite Bearings’ highest-grade bearing material, Vesconite Superlube, which is known for its ultra-low friction and extreme wear resistance.

His design also included additional grooves, increased groove sizes and holes through the stainless steel flange that rests on the axial face of the bearing to allow more water flow through the bearing.

The third design iteration has proven to be a charm and the South African wastewater company is happy with its pump’s performance.

The exact lifetime improvement has yet to be quantified, as the pumps that were installed with the latest bearing design are still operating, having been installed in October 2022.

Other advantages include that the company has reduced oil lubrication which, prior to the introduction of Vesconite Superlube, took place every four to six weeks depending on the water quality and currently takes place between four to six months with Vesconite Superlube, says the wastewater company’s operations director, who adds that the company is still deciding on a final acceptable maintenance schedule for the Vesconite Superlube application.

In addition, Vesconite Bearings’ solution resulted in the elimination of the carbon seals and the ball bearings, making the system much less complex and allowing for fewer problem areas while making the bearing system cheaper due to the reduction in the number of components.

The wastewater company’s operations director notes that he estimates that the Vesconite Superlube solution costs two third’s the cost of the replaced bearings and seals, with additional savings for the end user since they have reduced downtime, labour and service costs.

The company increased the bearing lifetime and decreased its running costs. The company has also indicated it is easier to do maintenance because it is simpler to replace a plain bushing than to replace the carbon seals and ball bearings that were present in the earlier design.

“There are much fewer places for the dirt to accumulate so the engineer’s job is a little bit less messy,” states Fourie.

Vesconite’s premier bearing material, Vesconite Superlube, is a niche product which is made for niche applications such as this one, which is characterised by extremely abrasive and dirty water.

The material’s low friction, which is lower than virgin PTFE , is directly proportional to the material’s low wear rate.

“The low friction also has the advantage that it generates less heat,” describes Fourie.

“If you have any application that has a tendency to overheat and is wearing too fast, Vesconite Superlube is the ideal replacement because it generates less heat and it wears less quickly,” he adds.

 

 

A hydro turbine company based in Portland, Maine, USA, has chosen Vesconite Bearings’ lowest-friction material for the thrust bearings on its free-stream turbines.

The material, Vesconite Superlube, has one of the lowest coefficients of friction of any plain bearing material available, with a coefficient of friction lower than virgin PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).

“Thrust bearings made from this material were first ordered in June 2022 and installed in November 2022,” states renewable energy application developer Petrus Fourie.

These initial bearings will be assessed in December 2023, but the client, which has been satisfied with how they were installed and how they have operated to date, does not anticipate any problems, he adds.

The company has also ordered additional sizes of Vesconite Superlube thrust bearings, so it is believed that the thrust bearings have now been installed in multiple devices.

The renewable energy company wanted a water-lubricated bearing because of the environmental benefits of not having grease in water systems. 

It also required low friction, since this would result in less friction losses and therefore greater overall system efficiency, and low wear rates, so bearings would last longer and require less maintenance — which is desirable due to the difficulty and cost of doing maintenance on turbines that are deployed in the ocean or rivers, since they either float on the surface of a river, sit at the bottom of a river or they can be placed in the sea where there is high tidal flow so that electricity is generated from the flow of water.

For this reason, the thrust bearings, which are wear rings made of plate to absorb the axial forces on the turbine, are required to have low wear rates to reduce maintenance requirements.

“The thrust bearing rings rotate against a stainless steel counter-surface and absorb any axial loads on the main shaft of the hydro turbine,” describes Fourie. 

“If any axial load is applied, the friction on the sliding surface results in a torque on the main shaft acting in the direction opposite to the rotation of the shaft, effectively braking the turbine and causing energy losses in the system. The energy losses due to this effect are directly proportional to the friction coefficient, hence the importance of minimizing friction to improve system efficiency.”

Image Caption: Modular RivGenÂź 2-device array deployment, Millinocket, Maine, May 2023.
Photo credit: ORPC

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has received its China Classification Society (CCS) Certificate of Works Approval.

This was announced by Vesconite Bearings Quality Control Manager Jaco Prinsloo, who notes that the certification is valid for four years and is one of the certifications that clients request to confirm that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube rudder bearings and stern tubes (including its Superclad bearings) meet certain quality and safety standards.

The certification company required Vesconite Bearings’ ISO 9001:2015 approval, material specification sheets for its bearing materials and various other company documents, Prinsloo explains.

A manufacturing facility audit was then conducted by a shipping surveyor/engineer and, once the CCS was satisfied with the documentation and the manufacturing facility audit, the certification was granted.

Commercial vessels are usually classed and have to adhere to the class standards in order to ensure that the ship is safe and seaworthy, and Vesconite Bearings has certifications from Bureau Veritas, DNV-GL, Lloyds Register, NKK, RINA and ABS, in addition to the CCS certification that it recently received.

“Vesconite Bearings frequently gets requests to send the relevant approval certificate with its offer or order,” notes Marine Application Engineer Monique Kooij.

“Bushings are critical spare parts on a vessel, and it is important that good-quality bushings are used,” she says, noting that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings are approved by all the important class societies and this gives its customers confidence that Vesconite Bearings’ bushings are of high quality and have all the right characteristics for this critical application.

The CCS certification is important for Vesconite Bearings, since the company is enlarging its footprint in the commercial new-build sector, which is dominated by Asian shipyards.

China is responsible for around 44% of global commercial ship building at present, with South Korea and Japan also playing important roles in global commercial ship production.

Various traditional ship-building hubs also continue to play a role in ship building and repair.

 

 

When a competitor quoted the product manager at a large Austrian technology company a long delivery time for his order, he was underwhelmed.

The 7 to 12 weeks from the placement of an order was considerable when compared to a typical one to two week despatch time for Vesconite.

“Sometimes a lengthy delivery time is not acceptable for us,” the product manager said. (Read more here)

Switch to Vesconite

We’d like to invite those who have been quoted long delivery times or informed of shortages of bushing stock shapes to switch to Vesconite Bearings’ products. We have stock of Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube, Vesconite Superlube, Hitemp 150 and Hitemp 160 bearing materials.

We have also implemented the following logistical solutions:

  • We have expanded our warehouses globally with stock in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, United States, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Namibia.
  • Hub-and-spoke configurations: our Netherlands warehouse is an example. Strategically located, it serves demand from Europe. (Read more here and here)
  • We are adding notifications for shipment visibility. (Read more here)
  • We are committed to immediate follow up. If something goes wrong with a delivery, we will try to solve the problem speedily. (Read more here)

Vesconite Bearings expanded production during the Covid period. In fact during Covid:

  • we did not retrench, so our production staff are in place;
  • we continued training learners and apprentices, so they are more experienced and knowledgeable to add value within our company;
  • we bought additional CNCs and now have 90 on-hand in our expanded machine shops for custom-made parts;
  • we became more efficient at production, and our extrusion shop has new facilities to meet the demand for rods, hollow bar and plates;
  • we introduced a facility dedicated to producing extra-large bearings, including marine bearings (Read more here);
  • we commissioned a facility dedicated to producing large quantity bearing orders (Read more here) ; and
  • we continued to produce bearings in advance for frequent customers and customers with long-term off-take agreements.

 

 

Indian hydro-electric projects offer unique challenges: they are exposed to monsoon floods for a few months of the year and then a dry spell for the rest of the year.

After being dormant for long periods, bearings associated with these projects have to cope with a deluge of water containing debris from the floods.

These conditions led one Indian company that does maintenance of hydro-electric dams and, specifically, the sluice gates and other structures associated with the dam walls, to approach Vesconite Bearings for a solution for the trunnion bearings on one of its project’s tainter gates. These gates are used to release or stop water on hydro-electric dams.

The main problem that the maintenance company had experienced prior to using Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings was that monsoon-related debris and silt were getting stuck in the bearings and damaging them.

Vesconite Hilube bearings were then installed in June 2022, immediately preceding the anticipated monsoon rains.

Since it is a harder material than many of the competing brands, it is good at handling abrasives. This is because it does not provide a yielding surface for abrasive material to indent in and, because the harder material is unyielding, silt particles will generally flush through.

In addition, because Vesconite Hilube bearing material does not swell even in submerged conditions, tighter tolerances and clearances are possible. This translates into a smaller gap for debris, including small sticks and bark, to get stuck in and damage the bearing.

Vesconite Bearings renewable energy application developer Petrus Fourie notes that he recommended clearances in line with Vesconite Bearings’ online “Design a Bearing” calculator and believes that Vesconite Bearings’ smaller recommended tolerances and clearances assisted in the success of the trunnion bearings.

The client informed that the dam gates were operating well in the middle of the monsoon season, and again confirmed in March 2023, following the monsoon season, that the bearings were working well.

Other than the wear-resistant properties of Vesconite Hilube, Fourie notes that Indian hydro-electric projects are also a unique environment in which to test a material’s creep resistance ⎻ its likelihood of deforming under load.

In this respect, the Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings also performed well.

Indian dams sit closed for almost 9 months of the year during the dry season when it is imperative for them to hold back the water in the dam.

During this time, bearings are exposed to a high load that can result in creep and there is a tendency for the bearing to deform and become oval on the inside.

This results in the gate being unable to open since the shaft cannot turn since the irregularly-shaped bearings cause jams.

While this is unlikely to be a problem in Europe, where dams open and close all the time due to the on-going rainfall, this is a problem in countries like India with a lengthy dry season and particularly where other creep-prone plastic bearings are in place, or bronze, which is soft and prone to creep and can experience galvanic corrosion resulting in seizures.

However, Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings demonstrated their ability to keep their shape and the gates of the hydro project were able to open and close since the bearing hole remained round and could rotate around the shaft.

“If they can work in India, it’s pretty safe to say that the bearings are fairly creep resistant because of the way Indian companies operate their dams,” Fourie enthuses.

The Indian maintenance client seems similarly enthusiastic and has sent through additional enquiries.

 

 

A San Diego hydro-electric plant has been operating with Vesconite Hilube wicket gate bushings since August 2022.

Hollow bar for the bushings was ordered from Vesconite Bearings’ warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, by a Washington State hydro company that specialises in servicing and overhauling older hydro-electric turbines.

The Washington company machined the wicket gate bushings and commissioned the hydro plant, together with the wicket gate bushings. These act as the pivot points for vanes that direct the water flow to hit the turbine at an optimal angle.

The service company has indicated that the wicket gate bushings are performing well and has since ordered enough hollow bar to machine another set of bushings, and one set of wicket gate bushings fully machined by Vesconite Bearings.

This San Diego project, like some other projects for which Vesconite Hilube has been ordered, is an older hydro-electric turbine that has historically used a greased bronze system ⎻ a traditional bearing material that is found in many of the more-advanced-age hydro-electric plants.

The service company wanted to move away from greased bronze because greased systems are difficult to maintain; notorious for leaking, polluting, and failing; and generally require maintenance-intensive seals.

These are some of the reasons why older hydro-turbine projects are increasingly being refurbished with novel materials, including no-swell, self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube bushings.

For quick despatch and time-sensitive projects, Vesconite Bearings’ Richmond warehouse is a preferred option, particularly for hydro companies operating in the US. Where project consultants have sufficient lead times and are in the preliminary design stages, Vesconite Bearings’ turnkey machining of wicket gate bushings is often chosen

 

 

Hydro turbine bearing components machined from Vesconite Hilube have been installed at the Crai Water Turbine and Pollok Sawmill Projects in Wales and Scotland.

The UK consultant on hydro-electric turbine design and maintenance on the project had first come to hear about Vesconite bearing materials in 2021, when the restoration projects were still in the conception stage.

The company sent an enquiry for wicket gate bushings and wear rings for the two projects.

The scope of the bushing supply increased and Vesconite Bearings was eventually the supplier of all the plain bearing components in the projects, including the guide vane bushings, runner inlet wear rings, several thrust bearings and the Francis turbine main shaft bearings.

All the parts were delivered in January 2022, installed in the turbines, and despatched to the client in December 2022 after successful factory acceptance tests and some preliminary testing of the bushings under a controlled environment.

Vesconite renewables applications developer Petrus Fourie notes that the previous bearings were made of bronze, but the restoration project necessitated a rethinking of some of the older technology that was in use when the hydro projects were first built.

“People like replacing bronze because they want to eliminate grease from systems in which water is present,” says Fourie.

“Water flushes out the grease ⎻ which pollutes the water. When the grease is flushed out, metal shafts are left unprotected and corrode,” he adds.

Vesconite Hilube bearings are often used in niche hydro-electric applications since they can be machined easily for older equipment with unique designs.

Besides use in huge hydro-power stations, Vesconite Hilube bearing material is also used in smaller projects such as the Crai Project, operated by Welsh Water, and the Pollok Project, operated by the Glasgow Council.

In England, Scotland and Wales, there are many modest hydro projects that could generate 100 to 150 kW of electricity, as many areas are mountainous with significant rainfall.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings in the Netherlands received 30 crates of stock in February.

Many of these crates include extra-large marine bearings made of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bearing materials that do not swell or distort in water, do not delaminate or distort under higher loads, do not corrode, do not require lubrication, are resistant to oils and fuel, are easy to fit and remove, and prolong shaft life.

“The intention is to be able to get rudder and stern tube bearings to customers quicker,” says Vesconite Bearings BV MD Conrad Penzhorn.

“Lead-times-to-delivery are particularly important for marine customers, and we want to cater for this requirement,” he says, noting that dry-dock fees are considerable and waiting for parts needs to be avoided.

Vesconite’s stock includes many popular sizes of rudder bearings and stern tubes.

These are packed, and ready to be sent as soon as orders are received.

Vesconite Bearings’ warehouse is located near Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Stock bearings can be delivered within Europe within a day of being despatched from the facility.

Stock can also be collected by arrangement, with the warehouse within easy access of the cities of Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

 

 

A desalination plant in the Middle East commissioned a 6 MW pump with a Vesconite labyrinth seal in 2022.

This is according to the product manager at a large Austrian technology company tasked with designing the pump.

His company advertises that “thanks to today’s state-of-the-art technologies, potable water and desalination plants are able to achieve levels of safety and efficiency that were previously unimaginable”, and these are some of the considerations that he uses when he develops products for this industry.

It was initially for efficiency reasons that the pump OEM engaged with Vesconite.

Wear rings and seals, such as those produced by Vesconite Bearings, exhibit 5% efficiency gains, the product manager says.

With high power intensities, the savings from these gains become increasingly important and have resulted in the whole world striving for more efficiency in the technologies that they employ, he notes.

Interestingly, the technology company believes that Vesconite Bearings’ main differentiating factors are its service and its flexibility.

The product manager informs that a competitor had in one case quoted a seven-to-12 week delivery time from the placement of an order, as compared to a week’s despatch time for Vesconite.

“Sometimes a lengthy delivery time is not acceptable for us,” he says.

Vesconite’s service and support was also a distinguishing factor in choosing labyrinth seals made from Vesconite self-lubricating no-swell bearing materials.

The product manager explains that Vesconite Bearings was willing to discuss the technology company’s design requirements and did not simply dismiss them as impossible to achieve.

As a result, the labyrinth seal was produced applying the close clearances that the client desired.

“We were able to search for solutions together,” describes the product manager.

The technology company has been using Vesconite parts for five years and estimates that between 40 and 60 pumps globally have between 80 and 100 Vesconite parts installed on them.

These are used in a variety of industries, including desalination, which is becoming an important way to secure drinking water for urban needs.

 

 

A specialised Southern African railway signalling company, Actom Signalling, has found minimal wear in accelerated wear testing on the Vesconite slides that are contained in its point machines, which control railway tracks and switch the tracks that particular trains will be directed to.

This was confirmed by Actom Engineering Projects and Contracts Development Technician Wayne Meyer.

He notes that testing was carried out in November and December 2022 on a complete B1 Switchmatic Point Machine that was taken out of the production line for the express purpose of testing the performance of the point machine.

“We have to back our products so, periodically, we do these tests,” says Meyer.

“They provide comfort to our customers on the performance of our machines,” he notes of the tests that over a few days put a randomly-selected machine through its expected operating life.

More than 5,000 actuations, or movements of the point machine drive bar, were tested at the company’s factory in Germiston, South Africa.

Since Vesconite slides are among the components that are used on the machines, slide wear was also tested.

Vesconite slides are located around the detection, lock and drive bars at the point where they exit the points machine housing.

The point system blades and bars also run on a track of Vesconite so they are enclosed within Vesconite when they are within the point system housing.

Meyer notes that most of the wear was on the bottom Vesconite slides; this measured around 0.17 mm.

“This is very little for the amount of work that was done,” he says.

Wear on the top-most and side liners was almost undetectable, with wear of 0.05 mm being present, informs Meyer.

Point machines are critical in controlling the directional change of a train and for the safety of rail services.

Among the important components of the point machine are the detection blades, which determine the position of the right and left lines on the track; the locking blades, which physically locks the rail in place in a new position; and the drive slide, which is used to push the tracks into the correct position.

“With each actuation of the B1 Switchmatic point machine, the stroke of it is 300 mm, so there is 300 mm of movement over the Vesconite liner each time the machine will actuate,” describes Meyer.

“For the amount of wear, that is very good,” he says.

The B1 Switchmatic is Actom’s most popular point system, and is a well-tested machine that was first developed in the 1980s. It is the model on which Actom’s other point systems are based.

Actom has also developed the C1-H clamp lock point machine, the in-sleeper or integrated point machine, and the yard point machine — all of which include Actom’s important safety features and locking mechanism.

The C1-H is a smaller machine that was developed in the 2000s and is frequently used on passenger rails on which the rail tracks are normally located closer to one another than would be the case with freight rail.

The yard point machine is a robust, portable machine which is used in shunting yards and operated with high frequency.

The in-sleeper machine is Actom’s newest machine, which combats vandalism and theft by being small enough to be installed securely between the rails and inside the concrete sleepers.

All of the machines use Vesconite extensively, with some of the original machines still operating 40 or 50 years later with low-friction low-maintenance wear-resistant Vesconite still installed.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, through its supply of marine bearings to the MN Colibri charter vessel in June, is proud to be associated with an exciting communication satellite launch that took place in September 2022.

The supply of bearings allowed the Colibri to transport the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite, which is regarded as an important addition to global telecommunications infrastructure.

The MN Colibri transported the satellite to Pariacabo Harbour in French Guiana, near the Kourou-based Guiana Space Centre, the main spaceport of France and the European Space Agency.

On arrival at the port, the Eutelsat was transported off the ride-on ride-off charter vessel.

It then made its way to the launch site, where it was later successfully launched by an Ariane rocket.

The Eutelsat Konnect VHTS is expected to deliver high-speed broadband and mobile connectivity throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East from the second half of 2023.
 
“Vesconite Bearings is pleased to have contributed to this momentous project,” says Vesconite Bearings marine applications engineer Monique Potgieter of the development that plans to supply European users with 100 Mbps broadband as well as to eliminate broadband black spots.

“Our marine bearings are used in many intriguing shipping projects that contribute to the technological advancement of our world,” she notes.

Potgieter explains that, when the MN Colibri charter ship was undergoing planned inspection, it was found that the upper and lower flap bearings needed to be replaced on the flap type rudders.

The bearing supplier was then approached by a company that focuses on rudder new builds and servicing to supply the bearings.

Vesconite Bearings had the right size bushing material in stock at its Netherlands warehouse, and was able to quickly deliver the stock to Hamburg, Germany, for further machining and installation.
 
Material for two bearings, measuring 170 outside diameter (OD) x 150 inside diameter (ID) x 157 mm (long (L)) and 180 OD x 150 ID x 190 mm L, were ordered at 5pm on June 27, 2022, despatched just after noon on June 28, and delivered to the dry dock that did the final machining shortly after 1pm on June 29.

Marine bearings are essential to the delivery of all manner of cargo, much of which is time sensitive.

“Our team of marine specialists is dedicated to attending to urgent enquiries and we engage with ship captains, ship servicing companies and vessel managers through WhatsApp, Skype, direct calls, email and the other platforms they prefer to ensure a high level of availability, quick responses to enquiries and fast processing of orders,” says Potgieter.

The next step in Vesconite’s ability to deliver rudder bearings and stern tubes quickly is its strategy to have a large number of bearings stocked in locations around the globe and, where necessary, to manufacture these quickly at the dedicated marine bearing facility for the production of extra large bearings.

This dedicated facility can manufacture some of the largest marine bearings in the world in one to two days using its five large horizontal lathes and two large vertical lathes.

“In the case of the Colibri, we had bearings available close to the dry dock machine shop that was working on the ship,” says Potgieter.

“We are proud that our marine-supply strategy makes us the supplier of choice for many shipyards and repair companies that trust us for fast deliveries, excellent customer service and quality products,” she notes.
 
 
The Colibri (Image credit: 2021 ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique vidĂ©o du CSG – JM Guillon).
A Vesconite Hilube marine bearing

 

 

Vesconite is pleased to be associated with one of the final-year Mechanical Engineering projects at the University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

Vesconite-sponsored bushings were used for a traverse, a subassembly of the three-axis traverse and test stand. The traverse secures and positions aerodynamic probes in wind tunnels to measure parameters such as velocity and pressure around objects within the flow annulus. The traverse consists of a linear actuator that linearly extends the probe and a yaw subsystem that secures and rotates the probe about its tip.

In a letter of thanks to Vesconite Bearings Mechanical Engineer Tristen Wintershoven, who assisted with arranging the manufacturing, supply and delivery of the bushings, the study team noted that, “six bushings were used to minimise friction for the linear actuator, where the bushings were situated between three stainless-steel rods and a 3D-printed carriage.”

“The bushings enabled effortless movement of the carriage even when carrying the weight of the yaw subsystem. Two bushings were used for the yaw subsystem between a 3D-printed gear housing and a rotating stainless steel shaft. The bushings provided a smooth rotation of the shaft. Additionally, one of the project’s aims was to design a lightweight traverse.”

The student team, consisting of J. C. Yellappen, K. Z. Khanilye, I. A. Pillay and supervised by Professor G. C. Snedden, noted that the Vesconite bushings are much lighter than metallic bushings or bearings and this assisted in the design of a lightweight traverse.

The bushings had an excellent fit, performed well, and did not require lubrication, they enthused.

“As an engineering company, we hope to empower young engineers with the tools to solve real-world challenges,” says Wintershoven of how he introduced the team to Vesconite’s online bearing design tool which helps with various bearing parameters, including determining clearances and deciding on whether an interference fit is necessary.

“We aim to better the way individuals undertake analytical thinking,” he says.

 

 

A global petrochemical company, headquartered in South Korea, has ordered 20 pump bushings made of Vesconite Hilube, a premier-grade bearing material.

The bushings will go into vertical-turbine pumps that supply sea water to a petrochemical plant for cooling purposes.

The order for suction, line-shaft and pump-bowl bushings, is made up of bushings of significant size, with outside diameters ranging from 170 to 230 mm, inside diameters from 135 to 180 mm, and lengths from 180 to 240 mm.

“Vesconite Bearings has significant experience in providing pump bushings that come into contact with sea water,” describes pump application expert Phillip de Villiers.

“Our pump parts are widely used in desalination and sea-water-cooled plants,” he explains.

Vesconite Hilube bushings survive well in salt water and, unlike metal bearings, do not corrode.

In addition, they do not swell and can be machined for close clearances, which reduces vibration and improves pump efficiencies.

Cooling with the use of sea water is popular in coastal areas since it eliminates the use of scarce fresh water.

It is regarded as a sustainable technology, since there is typically no contact between the water and contaminants and the water can be released back into the sea with only a slight change in temperature being observed.

 

Pump application expert Phillip de Villiers notes that Vesconite Bearings has significant experience in providing pump bushings that come into contact with sea water.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is pleased to have received the Business Resilience Award, presented by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) and Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (MEMSA) last week.

This is according to CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, whose company was honoured as one that showed resilience, agility and adaptability during the Covid pandemic.

“We’re going to see pandemics again and they have happened throughout history, so let’s be prepared for the next one,” Leger said in his acceptance speech for the award that highlighted Vesconite’s business initiatives and management during the pandemic.

Leger stressed that the competition entry gave him the opportunity to examine how to ensure business stability in incredibly difficult times.

“Covid meant very unusual things like putting our sales staff to start shifts at 11 o’clock at night so that they could phone New Zealand, where the pandemic was not having an effect. Their end-of-day meeting was at 5 am in the morning so that we could discuss how they had managed to develop sales leads.”

Besides this sales initiative, Vesconite invested in health and safety interventions, skills development, creating and marketing new products, technologies and initiatives for remote work, logistics management and ease-of-access to products, improved financial oversight, renovating buildings and increased manufacturing resources at its factory, and growing a strong order book.

“I was also very struck that we had carried on paying salaries and, yes, after six weeks, of no real income coming in, it was very nerve-wracking about what was going to happen next,” Leger noted in his speech about the early days of the pandemic.

“When I look back, I recognise that all our employees were stabilised in this very stressful time. It meant that, when we came back with new ideas, they were energised because they were not fearful of their futures. It made a huge difference.”

Besides the Business Resilience Award, other companies that were honoured at the 2022 Awards for Excellence, included Macsteel, which received the Best Customer Service Award; Pamodzi Engineering, which received the Most Transformed Company of the Year Award; MSC Technical, which received the Environment Stewardship Award; Electrolux South Africa, which received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award; Caleisle Ngwenya, the director at CeeWay Engineering, who received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; ArcelorMittal, which received the Industry Apprenticeship Award; ProProcess Engineering, which received the Customised Customer Service Award; Buraaq Mining Services and Rham Equipment, which received the Localised Supply Chain Award; NTGR Engineering Projects, which received the Manufacturing Solutions Award; Kobus De Beer, the current Chairman of International Steel Fabricators of South Africa and the Structural Steel Export Cluster and a Commissioner on the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, who received the Lifetime Contribution to the Industry Award; Michelle Austin, the group financial director at Keegor South Africa, who received the Business Woman of the Year Award; Keegor South Africa, which received the Workplace Health and Safety Award; and Bell Equipment, which received the MEMSA Member Manufacturer of the Year Award.

 

 

A freight operator in Africa tested Vesconite’s Hilube 20 pedestal liners on its type 9307 locomotives and will be installing these liners due to their better wear resistance.

Pedestal liners are installed on the locomotive at the interface between the pedestal leg and the axle box. They reduce the friction at this interface, which enables the axles to move freely in a vertical and lateral direction. Low-friction pedestal liners are key in reducing the force required for the wheel set to move laterally when the train comes into contact with a defect in the rail.

Hilube 20 is a ductile, self-lubricating material with a maximum design load of 20 MPa and a coefficient of friction ranging between 0.15 – 0.19.

The freight operator replaced its manganese steel pedestal liners with Vesconite’s Hilube 20 to determine if the company would get better performance during on-track testing.

The operator carried out a preliminary inspection of the liners one month after installation. The test revealed the wear plates to be intact, with no evidence of wear or abnormality. The rolling stock engineer said that, in comparison to Hilube 20, the manganese steel liners wear faster on visual inspection. The engineer also found the installation time of the Hilube 20 liners to be much quicker.

Due to the improved performance of the Hilube 20 pedestal liners, the liners have been approved as a replacement for manganese steel liners on the rail operator’s rolling stock.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has received a large order for wear-resistant bushings from a Canadian agricultural manufacturer that manufactures air seeders, among other equipment.

This is according to Vesconite application developer Marius van Zyl, who has been involved in the project since its start.

The project began when an Australian distributor of the air seeder tested standard Vesconite bushings on the pivots on the row units. The distributor then also evaluated Vesconite’s premium bearing material, Vesconite Hilube.

Both materials performed well on the seeder’s two highest-load points.

Because of availability, the Australian distributor supplied Vesconite Hilube bushings on its high-load high-wear pivot points on the planters ahead of the Australian planting season in 2021.

However, from this time on, standard Vesconite will be fitted to these points since this had a longer testing record of reliable performance and is more economical.

Testing of standard Vesconite has also been in progress in Canada through the spring 2022 planting season. The Canadian air-seeder manufacturer is now considering changing all of the pivot bearings to standard Vesconite to streamline production and improve wear across the row units.

 

 

Keeping a golf course lush and emerald green is an important consideration for any golf course maintenance or irrigation engineer.

As a result, when a well-known original equipment manufacturer’s pumps’ wear parts were consistently failing, and resulting in less than optimum greens and fairways, a South African golf-course irrigation company turned to Vesconite Bearings to test prototype bushings and wear rings.

The global golf course context

Globally, the golf industry is large, with the US industry (which represents half of global golf courses) estimated to have an impact of USD70b on the US economy, according to Golf Course Industry’s 2017 Golf Industry Outlook.

Maintenance spending in the US totals $9b each year, according to the same survey, with around 56% allocated to labour and the remainder to other expenses, including irrigation costs, which are believed to make up one of the largest parts of these maintenance costs, with the importance of watering, overwatering, the existence of brown patches in the grass, grass thinning or loss of colour consuming much attention. Various other countries, including Canada, are said to have 2/3 of the maintenance budget of the average US course for each of their courses, but, whatever the global golf-course maintenance budget, the sums that are being spent on golf-course maintenance and on irrigation are substantial.

Interestingly, the US, Japan, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, France, Scotland, South Africa, etc., have the largest number of golf courses in that order, with irrigation playing a more or less important role depending on how scarce water is and whether the golf courses are open year round, among other factors.

Since many golf courses are located in water-scarce areas, irrigation can be challenging, especially since golf-course irrigation needs are often pitted against communities’ basic water needs. Capturing storm water, using water from dams and rivers, and re-using effluent and wastewater are all possible alternatives. These are all possible substitutes to using potable water 
 but they sometimes bring their own challenges that original equipment manufacturers may not be considering sufficiently.

The case study

The irrigation company that eventually switched to Vesconite Hilube bowl bushings and wear rings is a well-established provider of irrigation solutions to the many of South Africa’s 532 golf courses, of which 400 are under irrigation. Each South African golf course typically has three to 16 pumps, although the number of pumps can be as high as 38, as on one elite South African golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.  Each pump typically has four to 12 stages in its multiple-stage canister pumps, which are the type specified by a large golf-course irrigation solution supplier.

These pumps have to cope with water that is often characterised by high abrasiveness, high alkalinity or high acidity. This is because water-scarcity issues, as well as a national requirement to provide for the country’s basic water needs, have resulted in many of South Africa’s golf courses switching from potable water to water sourced from effluent wastewater; rainfall runoff captured in ponds or reservoirs; streams and ponds; and groundwater.

The impact on wear rings

Prior to the introduction of Vesconite Hilube wear rings, the irrigation company used multiple-stage canister pumps with neck ring casings with phenolic wear rings.

Phenolic wear rings are typically made with a base material such as paper, fibreglass or cotton, which is permeated with a phenolic resin, or phenol formaldehyde resins.

Despite the fact that phenolic wear rings are seen as highly abrasion resistant, they were discovered to not be nearly wear-resistant enough to cope with the acidity levels and debris found in the storm water run-off and waste water that many South African golf courses are now using in line with global norms.

The phenolic wear rings, which were observably paper like, were found to delaminate, a process by which repeated stress causes the layers to separate. They tended to only last six to eight months.

The phenolic wear rings reduced pump performance. The pressure suddenly dropped, the client reported, noting the effect of the delamination and degradation of the wear rings, which are regarded as essential in this application since wear rings are typically used to create a virtual contact between a pump’s moving and stationary parts; to stabilise the pump rotor; and to reduce circulation between the pump stages.

The irrigation company approached Vesconite Bearings to produce differently-sized prototype wear rings for each of the pump sizes that it installs on South Africa’s golf courses. These were to be made of one of its polymers, Vesconite Hilube, a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered polymer that is also dimensionally stable in water.

After a year of testing at one golf course, the irrigation company still did not need to replace the wear rings and the wear rings showed no evidence of needing to be replaced. It began ordering sizeable quantities of wear rings from Vesconite Bearings so that it could install them as standard parts in the pumps that it was installing on South African golf courses.

The polymer wear rings were found to be suitable for the difficult water application, since they did not delaminate even when exposed to mild acids and alkalis or when in contact with abrasive materials. With the introduction of Vesconite Hilube wear rings, the dramatic pumping pressure drops and the frequent wear ring replacements also became a thing of the past.

Bowl bushings

The South African irrigation company also experienced difficulties with the carbon-graphite bowl bushings in the multiple-stage canister pumps before it introduced Vesconite Hilube bowl bushings.

Carbon-graphite is usually regarded as a hard-wearing material, since it includes the wear-resistance, strength and hardness of carbon and the self-lubricating characteristics and corrosion resistance of graphite. However, the abrasiveness of the grit and debris in the water that was being used for irrigation proved too much for the carbon-graphite bowl bushings too. Debris in the water sometimes caused the bushings to wear, with fast-moving fragments sometimes coming into contact with the impeller, damaging or removing vanes, and, in some cases, destroying the pumps.

Fine grit and fine particles also frequently embedded themselves into the carbon-graphite bushings and ate into stainless steel pump shafts.

As a consequence, shafts sometimes needed to be replaced, and, where shafts started vibrating due to shaft and bushing wear, the impellers came in contact with the metal chambers. The costs were considerable as canisters or even whole pumps sometimes had to be replaced.

Then the irrigation company introduced Vesconite Hilube bushings for seven canister pump models.

The results proved favourable, as a result of the Vesconite’s wear resistance.

Grit did not embed itself in the Vesconite Hilube bushings and lead to subsequent shaft damage and instability that damaged pump components.

The irrigation company was satisfied that after one year the bushings did not show significant wear and, importantly, there were no significant expenses related to bowl bushing failure.

It began ordering and stocking the Vesconite Hilube bowl bearings for use on the golf courses that it provides irrigation solutions to.

The benefits for golf courses with Vesconite wear rings and bowl bushings

Golf courses rely on the steady irrigation and are often viewed as undesirable places to play if they have visible stressed or burnt-out turf.

They are also averse to high maintenance costs including high electricity costs, which may be elevated if a pumping system is not operating optimally.

In addition, they are increasingly aware of the labour time, and the associated costs, involved in making repairs, managing and adjusting the irrigation system and hand watering dry areas where an irrigation system is found to be not optimal.

The case for ensuring that an irrigation system’s wear parts are well suited to the application is thus clear.

The benefits for the golf-course irrigation solution supplier

According to a presentation on the 2017 Golf Industry Outlook by Golf Course Industry, suppliers to the golf industry need to increasingly package what they sell as solutions rather than simply products. This would ensure that there is not a simple rush to the bottom in terms of price and that a knowledgeable supplier of appropriate solutions would be favoured over a supplier of a simple product that might not meet the needs of the client.

The presentation on the 2017 Golf Industry Outlook by Golf Course Industry also highlighted how tinkering and experimenting among golf-course superintendents is at an all-time high, and it seems that the trend towards independent thinkers, who are trying to optimise how resources are used to produce the best results on a golf course, may extend well beyond superintendents.

Vesconite Bearings is in favour of this approach, especially since it is self-evident that not all pre-packaged products work in all applications. The irrigation company that Vesconite Bearings supplied the wear parts to is well thought of in the industry, and a proactive technical team that are proactively searching for improved solutions to irrigation problems is one reason for this.

A last take-away

Turf-heads, as those who are knowledgeable about golf turf and the irrigation thereof like to be known, are convinced that water provision is the biggest long-term issue facing golf courses.

Several have even suggested that playing on natural grass may become a thing of the past, as concerns about water availability become paramount.

Irrigation using non-potable water sources is thus an inevitability if the continued use of natural turf is desired.  The use of storm water, water from dams and rivers, and effluent and wastewater all present technological challenges that the golf industry continues to address creatively, including in its assessment of the most suitable wear rings and bowl bushings for canister pumps.

 

 

A plant hire company in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, has improved bushing life by installing Vesconite self-lubricating bushings on some of its equipment.

This is according to BPD Plant Hire workshop manager Richard Stoltz, who installed Vesconite bushings on the main pivot points of a JCB TLB (tractor-loader-backhoe) and a New Holland skid steer.

Prior to introducing Vesconite, OEM bronze parts were installed on both machines, notes Stoltz.

However, operators did not grease the parts and the hiring company found that the bronze bushings tended to wear away within three to six months, he says.

Seeking a solution to the wear problem, BPD turned to Vesconite bearing materials.

Stoltz had used the material for its wear and self-lubricating properties in the past, but had used it for wear plates and slides rather than bushings previously.

Needing a solution to overcome the short lifespan of the bronze bushings, he first installed the Vesconite bushings on the TLB and was so impressed that he then installed Vesconite bushings on the skid steer.

The Vesconite TLB bushings have operated for two years and are still in working condition. The skid steer bushings, meanwhile, have been installed for six months and are running well.

Stoltz confirms that self-lubricating Vesconite has proven advantageous on the bushings of the bucket dipper arm of the TLB and the bottom loader arm bushings on the skid steer.

These parts are exposed to the most friction and wear and, if bronze OEM parts are used without greasing, they, unlike Vesconite, do not last, he says.

 

 

Buying Vesconite products in Namibia has become easier with the establishment of a wholly-owned Namibian subsidiary. 

Known as Vesconite Bearings Namibia, the new company will stock frequently-ordered hollow bar, solid rods and plate for ease of ordering and distribution into the Southern African country.

“Coastal Couriers, a leader in the Namibian courier industry, will assist us,” notes Nadia Swart, who is tasked with managing Vesconite’s Namibian business.

“We will keep stock shapes at Coastal Couriers in Windhoek, and distribute from there,” she says.  

The new company will focus on the marine, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, forklift, abattoir and pumps industries, among others.

“Currently we have customers in many African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya and Nigeria,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger of Vesconite’s African supply and growth strategy and performance on the continent to date. 

“The challenge is transporting goods across borders, and clearing customs,” Leger states.

“We look forward to the creation of the free trade agreement across Africa, with a view of this opening up better opportunities for trade,” he says

 

 

Metalfor, a leading Argentinian equipment manufacturer, has used Vesconite Hilube bushings for its Class 7 combine harvesters since 2010.

Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant, self-lubricating bearing material is used for king pin bushings on the steering system and axle pivot bushings on the back axle.

“We switched from bronze to Vesconite Hilube in 2010 since these are such important applications,” a design engineer stated when Vesconite Bearings visited the company in 2022.

Metalfor applies grease to the bushings upon installation to increase wear life and it also installs a grease zerk for greasing if desired.

However, Vesconite is internally lubricated, which is advantageous if a farmer does not grease bushings for long periods.

Axle pivot bushings.

“Because this is such a crucial application and a failure results in super expensive and long downtime, we felt the protection of Vesconite’s internal lubrication is exactly what we needed to ensure a bulletproof design,” the design engineer stated.

According to Metalfor’s design engineers, about 60% of the loaded combine harvester (roughly 25 metric tons) is placed on the back axle. 

The Metalfor engineers have not heard of a bushing failure since employing Vesconite bushings.

They also have never had to replace a Vesconite Hilube bearing because of excessive wear, unlike when bronze bushings were installed.

Vesconite Hilube king pin bushings on the combine harvester.

 

 

Metalfor, a leading Argentinian equipment manufacturer, has used Vesconite bushings in sprayer boom pivots on self-propelled crop sprayers since 2007 
 and with great success.

Metalfor’s crop-sprayer bushings have to face a variety of challenging operating conditions. Whilst spraying, crop sprayers are continuously exposed to water and a mixture of chemicals. After use, a sprayer is also typically cleaned with high-pressure water to blast the chemicals away. The spray chemicals and pressure washing also typically flush grease out of the pivot points.

Vesconite has proven to be the solution to these operating conditions. Unlike bronze, it resists a wide variety of chemicals. Vesconite also does not corrode because it is a polymer, which is an advantage because of the chemicals sprayers encounter.

Moreover, Vesconite is highly valued for its self-lubricating properties; while Metalfor provides for the greasing of bearings where a farmer desires this, the bushings’ self-lubricating properties are an extra benefit when greasing is absent.

These Vesconite properties make the bushing material suitable for the harsh conditions encountered by agricultural sprayers, Metalfor says.

The Vesconite bushing.
Where the bushings are located.

 

 

We understand your frustration with messy grease on your forklift.

Our forklift team replaced the bronze liner on this forklift with a Vesconite part and couldn’t be more pleased that our warehouse staff won’t have to concern themselves with greasing this part anymore.

Vesconite has developed many forklift parts that will save you from the mess, irritation and cost of greasing. Parts that we produce include side shift pads, mast pivot bushings, steer axle articulation bushings, lever and pedal bushings, king pin bushings, tilt cylinder bushings and gantry support bearings.

Find out more about how Vesconite can save you from your forklift greasing, friction and bearing wear problems. Contact Calvin Mpofu or Tristen Wintershoven on +27 11 616 1111.

 

 

A forklift rental company in the Cape winelands, South Africa, is experiencing less downtime, expenditure and fewer equipment repairs thanks to the introduction of Vesconite king pin and thrust bearings on its forklifts.

This is according to brothers Jacques and Van Rhyn who, together with their father, Japie du Plessis, supply forklifts to clients in the agriculture, fruit and wine industry through JP Fork Truck Rental, a family-owned and operated company.

In the forklift hire industry, clients often say, “rev it like a rental”, indicating that rental machines are used intensively since maintenance and repair costs are allocated to the rental company.

In extreme cases, clients lift loads that exceed the capacity of the machine causing the rear wheels of the forklift to lift and then drop, often causing damage to the axles.

“It caused severe damage to the rear axles, and we would have to collect the forklift from our clients to do the repairs and send some of the parts to an engineering workshop to have them fixed,” describes Van Rhyn. 

“It used to cost a lot of money,” he adds.

This was before the rental company moved to Vesconite low-friction wear-resistant king pin bushings and thrust bearings for the main pivot point on the rear axle.

The Vesconite parts replaced the conventional needle roller bearings for the king pin as well as the thrust bearings.

Van Rhyn comments that Vesconite king pin and thrust bearings do break in some instances but in most cases they only deform slightly.

If the part has deformed, it usually is an indication of impact, and the bushing is either replaced or shimmed and can be used again, he says.

Jacques, who has completed a PhD in mechanical engineering, comments that the rental company appreciates Vesconite’s hardness while still being ductile enough not to crack or shatter under impact.

“It can withstand a lot of wear. It is hard and, at the same time, it not brittle,” he notes.

The ability to withstand high axial loads and stress is particularly important in forklift thrust bearings due to the weight of the machine’s counterweight, which needs to be able to absorb impact and not crack or shatter.

The brothers explain that conventional thrust ball bearings were used before the introduction of Vesconite’s plain bearings.

With a ball bearing, the contact between the axle and stub-axle is multiple point loads (contact with the balls) and, in the case of a severe impact, the ball bearings shatter or even push outwards breaking the bearing housing. This, in turn, causes the steering plates and the stub-axle to bend and the stub-axle to rub up against the axle resulting in extreme wear on the components.

Quantifying the savings from switching to Vesconite is difficult, but the downtime has been significantly reduced, which leads to savings in maintenance and transport costs.

“Re-occurring bearing failures were eliminated, which means that these parts are now on a preventive maintenance schedule instead of corrective or failure maintenance schedule,” says Jacques. 

“This has saved a significant amount of downtime and inconvenience for both our clients and ourselves,” he notes.

JP Fork Truck Rental is so impressed with the Vesconite parts that it has installed Vesconite mast liners and trunnion bearings in addition to king pin and thrust bearings in about 80% of its fleet of more than 80 forklifts.

It also expects to have all of its machines fitted with Vesconite parts by the end of this year.

“Clients are happier when you don’t have downtime on your machines,” says Van Rhyn.

“This is not an issue anymore,” he notes.

 

 

High-temperature-resistant bearing material Hitemp 160 has been certified for contact with water up to 65ÂșC (150ÂșF).

This is according to the maker, Vesconite Bearings, which informs that the bearing and wear material has been approved by the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS).

WRAS is an independent UK certification body for plumbing products and materials. It informed Vesconite that Hitemp 160 has passed the full test of effect on water quality.

The bearing material is advertised as being able to be used in the high temperature range up to 160 – 200ÂșC depending on the chemicals in the solution.

With the certification, the material is certified as safe for water intended for human consumption up until 65ÂșC.

“UK pump and potable water component manufacturers can confidently use the product within the given temperature parameters,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The certification also provides comfort for the general safety of the bearing material where it is used outside of the UK, he notes.

 

 

An ocean of noise could be greatly reduced if more ship owners opted for noise-free marine bearings.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings, which is promoting its bearings materials as ones that exhibit low squeal, vibration and noise because of their low friction, small clearances and no slip stick.

Vesconite bearing materials have unusually low co-efficients of friction so there is little squeal when using Vesconite since:-

  • Vesconite has a co-efficient of friction of 0.12 – 0.15 running dry on stainless steel;
  • Vesconite Hilube has a co-efficient of friction of 0.08 – 0.12 running dry on stainless steel; and
  • Vesconite Superlube has a co-efficient of friction of 0.05 – 0.08 running dry on stainless steel

In addition, the materials exhibit little to no slip stick, the jerky motion associated with sound that is common in applications with intermittent motion. This is because Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superlube, in particular, have excellent stiction characteristics, since their co-efficients of static friction are lower than their co-efficients of dynamic friction 
 and this results in less noise or no noise at the start of motion and during slow rotations.

Moreover, because Vesconite does not swell or distort, Vesconite bearings can be machined with small clearances. This considerably reduces vibration and associated noise, since there is much less play between the bearing and its housing.

These bearing characteristics are important in an ocean environment in which noise levels are believed to have doubled every decade since the 1950s. This has largely been due to the increase in shipping and is also contributed to by small boat traffic in coastal waters.

Depending on the species, and the noise frequency and intensity, various physiological conditions have been noted in animals, including increases in blood pressure, heart rates, cortisol levels, cholesterol levels and respiratory rates.

For marine animals, besides physiological disturbances, there may be behavioural responses to avoid noise, including ascents that are too rapid and spending too much time on the surface.

These factors make the choice of bearing important for those who are concerned with the environmental impact of human activities in marine environments.

Read more about how Vesconite can reduce noise in many environments. Go to https://www.vesconite.com/solutions/vesconite-reduces-noise-pollution/

 

 

Extracting, filtering, milling, purifying, mincing, liquefying, emulsifying, cooking, pickling, pasteurising, canning, slicing, dicing and drying are some of the many physical and chemical means through which raw food ingredients are transformed into other forms. 

As with any equipment in a food processing plant, instruments and apparatus need to be assessed on the basis of their longevity, cost and whether they are fit-for-purpose. Important in a hygiene-critical environment though is whether the equipment is safe and hygienic to use. The health toll on consumers can be high if this is not considered, and the impact on a food company can be devastating if hygiene-related issues result in costly food recalls and significant reputational damage. 

As with any food-processing equipment, bearings need to be assessed for their suitability in a given application. Like other apparatus connected with the industry, health and hygiene are important considerations. After all, the often inconspicuous bearing plays a part in many food-related processes. They are intimately involved in blenders and mixers, ice machinery, picking and weighing equipment and conveyors, among other equipment. They perform many millions of cycles and are an essential although often unacknowledged part of food processing. As a result, those in the food processing industry might want to look at these seven health and hygiene considerations before they choose a bearing for their production line.

Consider a bearing’s swell index

Fortune Magazine reports that microbiological contamination is responsible for 47% of food recalls. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast and fungi, and their build-up, should thus be avoided. When it comes to bearings, materials such as non-food-grade nylon should be avoided, since it absorbs water and harvests bacteria. Other bearing materials should be carefully investigated, and only those thermoplastics that do not swell should be considered since trapped stagnant water is an environment in which microbes thrive. 

Choose the right colour

Unsurprisingly, white is the preferred colour for bearings in the food industry. Many thermoplastics are made of this colour and should be considered for food applications in which there is direct contact with food. The colour allows quality controllers to quickly ensure that there is nothing foreign in the system that has led to a colour change in the bearing. It also ensures that no colour is transferred from the bearing to the food product and that no visible foreign material can be detected in the final product.

Avoid lubrication

Food-grade lubricants can be used safely in food processing plants without the concern that the lubricants may contain toxins that will be harmful in the food that they are in contact with. Bearings, including thermoplastic ones, often operate better with lubricants. However, many thermoplastic bearings offer the advantage of avoiding lubrication in the food-processing plant if required. This eliminates food particulates being caught in lubricant and later contaminating the production chain. 

Choose bearings that are resistant to chemicals

Cleaning is of extreme importance in a food processing environment and the bearings that are chosen should not degrade when in contact with food chemicals or the cleaning chemicals that are used to ensure hygiene in the processing environment. Many thermoplastic bearings have demonstrated chemical resistance over a range of acids and alkalis and these may be preferred to untested bearings. 

Check optimal operating range

For many food-processing lines, steam cleaning is the advised method of cleaning. Numerous thermoplastics are able to operate at high-temperature ranges and these should be chosen over plastics that cannot withstand high temperatures. It is advised that the temperature of the steam should be verified though, since some plastic bearings will melt if exposed to high temperatures for sustained periods.

Ensure certification for food-grade applications

Various certifications are possible for plastic bearings and the polymers that make them. Among them are the FDA certification, common in the US, as well as various other certifications, including the National Test Laboratory certification of France, that apply elsewhere. These apply various aqueous tests, including distilled water, acetic acid and ethanol tests, as well as a fat test, that might include testing using sunflower oil. These are designed to ascertain the inertness of the polymers and the likelihood of a compound in the polymer being transferred to the food.

Avoid toxic components

Thermoplastics are often preferred to metallic components, including bronzes, which often contain lead and tin. This avoidance of tin and lead for the food-processing company has become important as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of heavy metals to tissues and organs.

Consider optimal bearing fit

For the food-processing company, there might, however, be other considerations other than the physical properties of a bearing that might be employed. For instance, optimal bearing fitment should also be considered, since food that remains in the running clearance of the bushing is likely to lead to contamination of the entire production chain. Optimal bearing fit requires that operating temperatures be taken cognisance of since some bearings expand when heated.

Benefit from smoothness

Food and beverages also tend to fall into any crack or hole on any surface in the production process. Some bearings are designed to have these features since these are necessary for smooth operation. Others have fewer moving parts and are constructed to form a single unit. Depending on the bearing required, thermoplastic bearings may offer advantages in that they tend to have smooth surfaces in which food particles are unlikely to accumulate. If they have been chosen for their smoothness and their lack of cavitation, it is important that they remain dent and damage free. To achieve this, improper forceful mounting, which might cause denting, wearing or cracking, should be avoided. Similarly, the bearing should not be extremely roughly treated during maintenance.

With Fortune Magazine noting that the yearly cost of food-related medical treatment, lost production and mortality caused by illness related to food-borne pathogens totals $55-million in the US, food processing companies are looking carefully at the parts of their production chain in which equipment is in contact with food. 

No particular study has identified bearings as a particular cause of food-borne pathogens, but bearing manufacturers are keen on ensuring that the risk of food-related illness or diseases associated with their particular componentry remains low.

Bearings, as with other types of equipment, have to be investigated to determine whether there is a possibility of incidental food contact or no possibility of contact. Once this is determined, bearings can be specified based on hygiene concerns appropriate for a given application.

With a rapidly urbanising and increasingly wealthier global population, which spends less time on food preparation due to increasing demands on its time, processed food demand is growing each year. 

This would not be a particular concern, except that food-related outbreaks and recalls are also growing. Food-borne illnesses and their risk to food consumers and food-processing companies cannot be underestimated and any opportunity to be more vigilant about hygiene should be taken.

 

 

A Vesconite Hilube U-shaped liner bearing has been used successfully for 350 hours on a Komatsu 675-5 motor grader thanks to an engineering innovation by Hans Bester, from the South African farm Novo, owned by PW Meiring.

The U-shaped plate bearing is fitted on the mould board side shift of the grader and acts as a guide on the grader assembly.

The grader assembly, in turn, is used to construct water ways, embankments and contours, and generally protect against soil erosion at the farm that produces maize, soya and sugar beans, potatoes and wheat.

Bester had constructed his own liner bearing assembled out of small pieces of Vesconite Hilube previously. This had lasted for 600 hours and it outperformed the previous bronze OEM part that had lasted 500 hours in the same application.

Since then, he has installed a single piece of Vesconite Hilube, machined according to his specifications by the Vesconite Bearings factory. 

This was much cheaper than assembling smaller pieces of Vesconite Hilube, says Bester.

He is convinced that the single uniform part made from Vesconite Hilube will outperform his prototype part, and believes that it may be able to operate even longer.

It is also much easier to install, Bester notes.

The OEM bronze part required regular greasing but, with greasing, an abrasive grinding paste resulted when the grease combined with the soil that the grader moved.

Meanwhile, the OEM part wore out quickly without greasing.

Bester, who has worked in soil protection for 40 years, notes that there was a need for Vesconite Hilube since the bearing material protects the grader assembly from wear and aids hard-working graders that are busy for eight hours a day in the most arduous grit-filled conditions.

Vesconite Hilube liner bearings are 70% cheaper than bronze liner bearings, he says.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings commissioned a dedicated facility for high production runs of finished parts in June.

This follows its purchase of a thousand-square-meter structure that had been used as a grain silo and then as a seed store by its previous owners.

Known as WelgeleĂ«, or “well established” after the farm at which it was previously located, the new facility provides expansion space for the ‘large-quantity’ facility.

Some 20 CNC machines had been moved to the facility in April, a further 10 in May, and, with three additional CNC purchases that arrived in June, the facility houses 33 advanced automatic CNC machines to produce parts machined to tight tolerances.

“Vesconite is receiving more large-volume orders for finished parts made of our wear-resistant self-lubricating Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bearing materials,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“We required a streamlined, high-tech facility that could create parts in large numbers,” he notes.

The facility will produce high production runs of 10,000 to 100,000 per part a year.

It will cater for high-volume part suppliers and original equipment manufacturers that use Vesconite bearings and wear parts as standard equipment items.

 

 

For engineers at CERN (CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics), understanding the co-efficient of friction of a given friction material (including Vesconite Hilube low-friction material, which is being introduced into CERN’s new tooling system) is of utmost importance.

This co-efficient of friction number is an indication of how easily parts will slide, roll or rest on the given material, with a lower co-efficient of friction indicating that there is less friction. Low stick-slip and a more smooth motion is desired.

And this is exactly what CERN project engineer Mike Struik demonstrated this week while testing how the components for the next phase of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) interface.

He has had considerable experience at the LHC with the various friction materials that have historically been used to assemble the more than 2,000 superconducting magnets at CERN.

Some 1,232 dipole magnets have been assembled in the facility straddling the Swiss-French border in which he works.

Typically weighing 29 tons each, these magnets have to be slid into the 15-meter-long tubes (vacuum vessels) in which they are housed using a system of winches, steel rails and sliding material before being installed in the accelerator.

The sliding material used historically is a 3- to 4-millimetre-thick Teflon-filled bronze wear pad that had to be glued to the base material.

“We don’t like the old material,” says Struik of the old engineering tooling system that has been used since the year 2000.

“If the glue on the sliding material comes off, we have a 29-ton magnet that we can’t mount anymore,” he elaborates.

So, when LHC upgrades were proposed to increase the amount of data that could be collected, using more sophisticated superconducting magnets that cool to 1.9 ÂșKelvin, this was the ideal opportunity to improve on the tooling system that would also have to be upgraded.

Struik specified that the manufacturer of the tooling use a sliding material that could be fitted into a recess on the housing so as to avoid needing to glue the wear pad to the base. He specified winching speeds of 50 mm/minute and 100 mm/minute. He also specified that the sliding material not grip the high-quality surface of the steel rails on which it was placed and have a low co-efficient of friction with a high yield load strength.

The design Applus+ Laboratories, a worldwide leader in the testing, inspection and certification sector, developed in response included an assembly table; an adjustable table that can be configured to support different-sized vacuum vessels; a synchronised lifting system to lift and hold the magnets in place; and winches to pull the magnets in and out of the vessel.

The design also included temporary extension rails made of steel inside each tube and three sliders, with each slider having a 50-centimetre-long block of Vesconite Hilube low-friction sliding material on each side to safely and efficiently guide the magnets in and out.

Vesconite Hilube was also positioned to guide the magnet laterally and keep the magnet in the middle of the tube. Once completed, Applus performed a functional test with a lighter magnet, simulating what could be expected at CERN, which was still, at that stage, to receive delivery of the 24-ton cryomagnets that are be employed at CERN.

The functional test proved successful and the tooling system was shown to be able to manoeuvre a magnet into a vacuum vessel and keep the magnet in the correct position.

CERN decided that it would perform the real test when the actual magnets that would be used were delivered, and it was able to do so in May 2022.

“We had to try and fit this 24-ton magnet inside another tube and then we had to lift it, we had to align it and we had to drop it,” says Struik.

“Everything went well and we are super happy with it,” he notes of the involved test that included the interface between all the existing and newly-introduced components.

As a conclusion to the test, the Vesconite Hilube pads were removed and tested. No wear was detected.

“The friction co-efficient was also lower than we expected it to be,” Struik notes of the smoothness with which the magnet was manoeuvred into the vessel using Vesconite Hilube wear materials.

With the alignment and equipment tests all completed, the cold tests of the assembled cryomagnet are expected to start in June.

These will demonstrate whether the magnet is able to concentrate a particle beam and that the new upgrade involving an additional 37 more-sophisticated cryomagnets at the LHC will be a welcome addition to the 27-km-long accelerator that is part of the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

Large hadron collider upgrades include more sophisticated superconducting magnets that cool to 1.9 ÂșKelvin

 

 

A marine adventure company has installed Vesconite wear rings on all its SeaDoo Spark jet ski pump sets with great success.

Offshore Adventures first tested a sample of the precision machined, no-swell, wear-resistant Vesconite wear rings as an alternative to the OEM ones, made out of an alternative polymer material, and the replacement ones, made from stainless steel.

Impressed with the results, the adventure company then changed all of the pump set wear rings on its six jet skis to the Vesconite ones.

Vesconite application developer Phillip de Villiers notes that the Vesconite wear rings form part of the housing that contains the jet skis’s propeller.

This is always wet because the propeller is the means by which the jet ski is propelled through the water.

As a result, Vesconite was favoured for its no-swell properties and good dimensional stability in water. The no-swell properties also allowed De Villiers to design a wear ring with a much smaller running clearance, which resulted in better efficiencies and superior operation than had ever been achieved on the jet skis previously.

“The wear rings also sometimes came in contact with abrasive beach sand when the jet skis were started close to the shore,” says De Villiers.

“The occasional contact between the wear rings and beach sand was also not problematic for Vesconite, since the material is wear resistant and copes well with abrasive conditions,” he notes.

The wear-resistant nature of the material also meant that it survived the rare contact between the wear ring and the propeller, resulting in less replacement and lower maintenance costs, he adds.

“In the jet-ski rental industry, one can’t afford downtime,” says Offshore Adventures owner Jaco Kruger.

“These wear rings are not only long-lasting but affordable!” he enthuses. 

Offshore Adventures is based out of Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. Besides various other marine adventures, including swimming with the seals and observing the once-a-year sardine run, the company rents jet skis and provides guided jet ski tours with a qualified skipper.

Plettenberg Bay is part of the CondĂ© Nast Travellers Gold List – its list of the nine best destinations in the world for 2022.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is proud to be associated with tidal energy equipment developer Norwegian Ocean Power, which successfully trialled its Pulsus horizontal-axis spiral-design tidal turbine, as part of the development of its first commercial unit, in 2016.

The turbines were tested in Drammensfjorden, Norway, where a dynamic test on the composite structure and bearings was performed.

The structure bent and flexed with tidal currents, which can produce significant turbulence and considerable upward and sideward forces, so the testing of uneven forces was a key part of testing for this tidal turbine.

 “We were hoping to separate out any vibration from the structure,” informed technical director and founder Kent Thoresen in 2016, noting that the company’s turbine was successful in this aim.

The thrust bearings moved backwards and forwards and eliminated the vibration as planned, which might have otherwise led to a systemic failure.

The 0,5m-diameter Vesconite bearings, meanwhile, which were installed on each end of the horizontal unit, also performed well in their ability to absorb vibration.

They were chosen after the testing of various competing products that were less flexible and exhibited dry-run problems.

They were also shown to exhibit no swell in water; require no grease, oil or additional lubrication; and have a load capacity that is unaffected by water.

There are many failed projects in the tidal energy industry due to turbulence that causes vibration and uneven force distribution,” commented Thoresen in 2016.

That is why it was important to fully test our unit in real sea conditions,” he noted.

Norwegian Ocean Power was the owner, financer and developer of the innovative turbine technology, which was due to be installed in the sea of Norway in 2017 and begin commercial production of 1TWh of energy per year for use in Norway.

The intention was to start production on several turbines in 2017 and 2018, with Canada and the UK being the most likely first markets for these turbines.

 

 

Two mounted ocean-powered turbines were generating electricity in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2016 using Vesconite Hilube plates that make up large bushings.

The ocean-powered turbines went live in November 2016, and their installation was seen as a trial of future current-powered farms that could comprise 30 turbines.

Located in Fundy Bay, the ocean-powered turbines were to utilise the continuous directed streams of seawater that circulate through the oceans to generate electricity.

The 300-t steel assembly formed an open-ended turbine and has a simple lubricant-free design with no seals or gearbox, so as to reduce maintenance requirements.

“The turbines were fitted with large-diameter Vesconite Hilube bushings,” said Vesconite Bearings renewable-energy bushings consultant Eddie Swanepoel in 2016.

“They are included on the outer plate that connects to the blades, which will rotate with current movements,” he noted.

The trial ocean energy-generating project saw the two turbines generating 2MW each.

This generating capacity, as well as future generating capacity in the region, was seen as an important contributor to the economy of Nova Scotia.

The government had committed to approving a 300MW farm of ocean-energy turbines.

It also hoped that the industry will create 22,000 jobs and contribute up to USD1.7bn to the regional GDP by 2040.

The project was understood to be the first ocean-powered project that was connected to the grid in Nova Scotia, which has a well-developed policy and planning framework for growing the ocean-energy industry in the region.

 

 

This week we celebrated the 91st birthday of my father, Mr Alain Leger, the founder of our company. I am delighted to share his talk where he shared some important aspects in his life.

We hope that my father’s pointers will be valuable for colleagues and customers: in fact for the well-being and health of all of us.

Please join me in wishing my father health and joy this month!

Kind Regards,
Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
Vesconite Bearings CEO

 

 

An aeration windmill manufacturer in the US has found that installing Vesconite bearings on its windmills leads to them to operate smoothly and efficiently.

The bearings are an essential component in aeration windmills, which aerate ponds in private and public spaces, since fan rotation is key to ensuring that a diaphragm moves up; compressed air is taken in; and the compressor builds up pressure, which is released into the air line leading to the water.  

Because of this, the windmills are more efficient at reducing algae and foul smells, controlling mosquitos and creating a healthier environment for fish.

Vesconite Bearings’ Eddie Swanepoel notes that the 60-inch fans spin at 15mph and weigh 35lbs, with aeration windmills ranging in size from 20 foot to 30 foot.

These large windmills are difficult to lubricate, so having a bearing made of a self-lubricating polymer ensures the continued movement of the fan, he says. 

The full benefit of wind energy is also available as a result of the frictionless bearings, which ensure that windmill fans can rotate smoothly, Swanepoel indicates, noting that aeration windmills also reduce the monthly costs associated with electric aerators.

The windmill manufacturer orders about 100 bearings a year, and advertises the advantages of its superior bearings in its aeration windmills and its decorative windmills, for those interested in enhancing their gardens with this feature.

As a result of the interest in its bearings for this application, Vesconite Bearings stocks the required bearings as standard stock items.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is proud to have supplied its largest-ever machined stern tube bearing from the long-life, wear-resistant, no-swell bearing material Vesconite Hilube.

The order was completed with the assistance of a recently-purchased six-meter centre lathe, which is part of Vesconite Bearings’ newly-introduced extra-large marine bearings’ facility.

The long aft stern tube bearing measured 534 mm (outer diameter) x 460 mm (inner diameter) and was 1,640 mm in length, excluding the 640 mm diameter flange, which was machined separately.

Vesconite Bearings marine sales engineer Wian Venter explains that the flange and the bearing had steps machined into them to allow the flange to have a sliding fit over the bearing.

Water-cooling grooves were also specified, as is typical for stern tube bearings, to help cool the bearing during operation, he adds.

A smaller forward stern tube bearing, with water-cooling grooves, was also manufactured for the client, Venter describes.

It measured 533 mm (outer diameter) x 460 mm (inner diameter) and was 410 mm in length, he says.

The bearings were installed on an oil and chemical tanker, the Celsius Mayfair, in China in December.

“I am highly satisfied with the items supplied, which have been successfully installed onboard our vessel during its third special survey,” says the Celsius Mayfair’s Manager, while discussing the Vesconite Hilube bearings that replaced the rubber Cutless bearings that were in place prior to the refit.

The vessel has been running for over six months without any problems after the installation, he notes.

Vesconite Hilube stern tube bearings typically exhibit no squeal at low speed, no stick-slip, can be easily installed, and provide a long wear life.

The one-piece stern tube bearing was approved by the Japanese classification society, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, known as ClassNK.

 

 

Anyone involved in agriculture will tell you that maintenance is crucial to your equipment life and performance and will quickly come back to bite you if it is neglected. A planting row unit has many moving parts, all of which need to work in harmony to ensure continuous and accurate seed placement, in the harshest of conditions, all in the pursuit of better yields and higher efficiency.

“Equalizer aims to use only the best quality and fit-for-purpose components on the market, to ensure that we manufacture world-class machines, which meet any farmers highest standards,” states the head of design at Equalizer AG, a company that specialises in the design, manufacture and global distribution of planting and seeding equipment for grain production.

“To ensure all parts keep moving as intended for as long as possible, we spec SKF hubs and bearings on all our machines. We also use Vesconite bushes on almost all of our oscillating pivot points, as many years of in-field feedback has led us to believe it is the best self-lubricating engineering polymer on the market for our applications.”

Before Equalizer made the switch to low-friction, wear-resistant, no-swell, self-lubricating Vesconite bearings on its row units, it had been utilising nylon bushings on the pivot points. These bushings would typically be used on the parallel arms and closing wheel pivots.

All of these oscillating points are under high loads, as hydraulic or spring force are used to ensure the row unit has adequate downforce to plant at a consistent depth and create proper seed-to-soil contact for the best germination and even emergence. Add to that rough undulating terrain or rock filled fields – these bushings work extremely hard!

With the ever increasing push to extend part life, Equalizer identified that an alternative to the nylon bushings needed to be sought. To quote: “The main reason for the material change was to increase the life of the bushes and therefore increase the time between maintenance intervals. This keeps the equipment running as intended for longer especially on larger farm setups due to the fact that mid-season maintenance is not feasible with the narrow planting windows. The other advantage of increased bush life is a reduction in maintenance downtime, allowing clients to go through a number of seasons before needing to do anything more major than the standard greasing, which also has a significant cost saving when considering the labour component.”

“Under higher loading cases, the Vesconite resists deformation more than our previous nylon. This keeps the bushes in shape, which prevents the joints getting ‘floppy'”

“I can’t give exact values on the difference in service life between the two materials as there are many factors that would need to be considered, but what I can say is our clients have been more than happy with our change over to Vesconite, which has solidified our feeling that we have made the right ‘fit for purpose’ material choice.”

Vesconite planter bushings assist in ensuring continuous and accurate seed placement, in the harshest of conditions, all in the pursuit of better yields and higher efficiency.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has established a dedicated extra-large bearings facility within its factory.

It will manufacture no-swell low-friction self-lubricating bearings for large ocean-going vessels, including container ships and oil tankers.

The dedicated facility houses five large horizontal lathes, including a six-meter lathe, and two large vertical lathes.

It also includes an upgraded Superclad machine, which builds up and encases a Vesconite bearing on the external diameter. By using a high-strength epoxy reinforcing system, the resultant jacket provides an extremely strong final structure, combined internally with the exceptional wear properties of Vesconite.

“We are seeing an increased number of enquiries for extra-large bearings,” says Vesconite CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“This facility will streamline our production and reduce the days between ordering and dispatch,” he says, noting that dispatch times will be reduced from four days to two to three days.

Having a vessel in dry dock for days or weeks while waiting for an oversized bearing is costly and frustrating, as is not being able to order a bearing made of your desired material.

Vesconite’s new facility solves these problems, with the company able to produce two-meter-long bearings, with outside diameters of up to 1,6 meters, in a much shorter time.

Should there be demand, even larger bearings will be produced.

 

 

When Vesconite Bearings called a Mallorca client in last month, the bearing company discovered that repairs were under way to 15 yachts, including one that was having wear-resistant low-co-efficient-of-friction Vesconite T-track slider inserts fitted to allow sliders with sheaves to move up and down tracks more easily.

Repairs to sheaves and associated equipment are a routine occurance at this highly-regarded company that specialises in marine welding, fabrication and machining.  The Mallorca company’s machine shop works with thermoplastics such as Vesconite to produce bushings, sheaves and their associated bearings when yachts require servicing.

Vesconite was used as a slider insert because it:

  • is harder than many other bearing materials;
  • can take the high loads that rigging sheaves need to carry;
  • does not heat up despite moving fast, which is a benefit in sheaves and track sliders associated with rigging;
  • can be exposed to sea water without rusting or corrosion;
  • does not swell and distort; and
  • is UV resistant, which is important because sheaves, sliders and slider inserts are continuously exposed to harsh direct sunlight.

The welding, fabrication and machining company has been operating for more than 20 years, employs 10 staff members and works with some of the finest yachts in the world, which range from 30 to 70 metres in length.

 

 

Vesconite battery slides will be introduced on all electric forklifts at a beverage producer following successful testing.

The battery slides, made from our wear-resistant low-coefficient-of-friction material, Vesconite, are used to guide the lead-acid batteries that power the forklifts.

The batteries need to be swopped out and recharged after every shift so that each forklift is ready for a later shift. Because of the considerable weight of the batteries (up to 1,800 kg), a more rigid solution was sought to prevent the bending and fracturing of the guides.

“Slides from Vesconite were tested for three months,” says Vesconite Bearings forklift application engineer Calvin Mpofu.

“Because of their successful use, the client plans to install the slides on all of the beverage company’s electric forklifts,” he adds.

The guides will become part of the growing range of precision wear and bushing components that Vesconite Bearings stocks for the forklift industry.

They were developed in response to the beverage company’s needs for a particular forklift model.

“Forklift companies are welcome to approach us with their unique wear or bearing challenges,” notes Mpofu.

“We will assist with prototype design and manufacture,” he concludes.

 

 

In the coming months, a Turkish geothermal plant will be installing Vesconite’s high-temperature bearing material known as Hitemp 160. Specially designed for pump bearings, this new material may be used in the high temperature range of 160 – 200ÂșC depending on the chemicals in the solution.

The installation follows an order received from an OEM pump supplier, which stipulated that it required a bearing material that could cope with temperatures as high as 90ÂșC for its client’s pumps.

Some 26 different bearings have been ordered. These are to be installed on four different vertical-turbine pumps at different stages along their lengths.

Turkey has 55 geothermal power plants and is a leader in this type of generation in Europe.

Geothermal energy is heat energy that is transferred from the earth’s core through to the earth’s surface and has been associated with hot springs since early times.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has created a cold-tolerance webpage (https://www.vesconite.com/solutions/vesconite-in-extreme-cold/) to explain how its bearing materials can cope with temperatures as low as -40ÂșC.

This webpage was motivated, in part, by the freezing weather that has affected the northern hemisphere lately.

Vesconite Bearings informs that Vesconite does not become brittle in cold temperatures. Testing shows that impact strength declines slightly between 20°C (68°F) and 0°C (32°F) but below this temperature is unaffected down to -30°C (-22°F). Based on generic data, impact strength is expected to remain similar down to -50ÂșC (-60ÂșF).

This information should reassure clients who experience major winter storms, blowing snow, freezing rain and howling winds, and have industrial applications that need to operate in these freezing conditions. A substantial advantage is that no special extreme cold greases are required because Vesconite products are self-lubricating.

Equally, while those in cold-affected industries may not be impacted by these unexpectedly harsh conditions, those with intermittent cold applications will also appreciate Vesconite Bearings’ experience with cold applications.

Vesconite Bearings has, for instance, had achievements in food-processing with a range of trolley and castor wheels that do not crack when exposed to alternating freezing cold in cold rooms and ambient-temperature warehouses.

Forklifts and materials-handling equipment in food processing plants and cold storage warehouses have similar results. Vesconite wear components cope well even where temperatures fluctuate widely during operation. Applications include axle bearings and thrust washers, mast bushings and forklift slides.

 

 

After replacing the all-rubber cutlass bearing of his new Jeanneau Sun Fast 35 Tide The Knot two times in seven years, Robert Metzen sought an alternative. A fellow sailor told him about his positive experience with Hilube as a rudder bearing. Shortly after contacting Leandro Panzini from Vesconite distributor VesArg, Metzen had a state-of-the-art polymer bearing installed.

At 2,300 rpm, a sailboat engine will spin its propeller shaft a million times in less than eight hours. Cutlass bearing materials such as rubber and bronze wear prematurely. This creates excessive shuddering and can seriously damage an expensive shaft, log or strut. Metzen experienced severe vibration at 2,900-3,000 rpm.

Jeanneau recommends replacing the cutlass bearing annually—a time-consuming and expensive proposition. Their all-rubber part simply did not have the longevity and reliability Metzen required.

Vesconite Hilube offers a wear life more than 10 times that of bronze. Internally lubricated, it offers ultra-low friction properties, even in dirty or silty water. Dimensionally stable, it has exceptional load strength and won’t soften or swell in water—increasing the chance of wear-related vibration—making it the ideal cutlass bearing material.

The innovative polymer is easily machined to +/-0.001″; tolerances for a 1.5″ shaft are typically .004″ to .009″. With a shell and liner, rubber bearings have limited installation options. In contrast, Vesconite Hilube is easily fitted with set screws or adhesive, or pressed into place. It’s available as raw stock or precision-machined parts.

Vesconite is no stranger to performance sailing. It’s used as a bearing material in a wide range of applications such as blocks and sliding cars, rudders, stern tubes and shafts. It’s the preferred polymer for foil and daggerboard trunks by builders such as Gunboat and HH Catamarans, and was used for that purpose on an America’s Cup boat.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is exploring new engineering design methods, including reducing or eliminating grooves, where possible, in industrial and marine applications.

Vesconite’s bearing materials are internally lubricated so, when replacing traditional materials, Vesconite is challenging engineers to explore designs that remove redundant or superfluous grooves for cooling lubricant or water.

For instance, Vesconite engineers have redesigned a forklift lower wear pad without the seven grooves on the upper surface that were in place in the original moulded nylon parts. 

“Eliminating grooves improves the structural integrity of the part and reduces manufacturing times and costs,” says forklift application engineer Calvin Mpofu.

Similarly, Vesconite Bearings can better on previous marine stern-tube bearing designs where constant water cooling is needed and bushings have water circulation grooves. 

“The number of grooves can be reduced where the groove radius and depth can be altered to obtain a sufficient flow of water for cooling,” reinforces marine application engineer Wian Venter.

As a result, Vesconite Bearings has suggested a reduction in the number of stern-tube grooves in a case where the original design was a rubber Cutlass bearing. 

This original design, which included a nitrile rubber lining bonded to a brass shell, required many grooves running the length of the rubber lining to dissipate frictional heat and increase the cooling flow of water.

The alternative Vesconite Hilube design, without the brass shell and fewer grooves, improves the structural integrity of the stern tube and reduces manufacturing time and costs. Fewer grooves also mean that the total bearing surface in contact with the shaft journal is increased.  

Most significantly, with Vesconite Hilube closer clearances can be machined than are achieved with rubber, so there is less shaft vibration.

For Mpofu and Venter, there is a clear advantage in rethinking existing designs and improving production methodologies and product durability.

They aim to make the engineering of Vesconite simpler, better, and faster.

 

 

A wear-resistant bearing material produced by Vesconite Bearings, Hitemp 150, has been certified for drinking water use by the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS).

WRAS is an independent UK certification body for plumbing products and materials. It informed Vesconite that Hitemp 150 “is suitable for contact with wholesome water for domestic purposes”.

Hitemp 150 components met the requirements of BS6920-1:2000 and/or 2014. These standards govern whether non-metallic products are suitable for contact with water intended for human consumption.

UK manufacturers can hence confidently use the product, says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The certification also provides comfort for the general safety of the bearing material where it is used outside of the UK, he notes.

 

 

A sliding table panel saw has been well utilised since it was installed late last year at Vesconite Bearings’ warehouse in Johannesburg.

The saw has mainly been used to cut Vesconite and Ultrablack wear plates that are used in a range of wear applications.

The introduction of the machine means the Johannesburg warehouse can dispatch cut-to-size orders quickly, reducing the longer lead times of having plates cut at the company’s busy factory.

Vesconite stores manager Martin Nyathi informs that a large number of plates and strips have been accurately cut on the machine and expects the saw to be a great asset in 2022.

The machine can cut lengths up to 3,700 mm long and 1,500 mm wide to an accuracy of ±0.25 mm, so it can accurately and swiftly cut the most-frequently-ordered plates that Vesconite Bearings produces.

 

 

A nylon bearing-swell problem almost led to the abandonment of a project to develop a new percussion hammer drill until the drill maker turned to Vesconite Hilube no-swell wear-resistant bearings.

The drill had been designed with a specific heat-stabilised nylon machined into linear bearings.

However, due to swell associated with the nylon, ten sets of nylon bearings had to be machined so that the drill manufacturer could find one set of components that could work together. The drill would then seize since nylon is known to swell when water absorption occurs.

The maker of drill rigs, rock excavation and construction equipment was at its wits’ end and ready to disregard the new drill design as unworkable when the design engineer heard about Vesconite Hilube.

After some size testing, the company ordered samples, notes Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Charlie Simpson.

The manufacturer then sent these samples to its testing facility in India, and has been testing them for three years with promising results, Simpson reports.

The decision as to whether to introduce the product as part of the company’s product line is currently being decided by the drill manufacturer’s marketing department.

From being sceptical that the company would be able to proceed with the drill, the design engineer is encouraged that the niche drill can operate and may be introduced into the company’s catalogue.

Should this be the case, it is likely that the drill manufacturer would produce a range of similar drills all fitted with Vesconite Hilube linear bearings.

These are likely to be used for rock drilling, excavation and construction globally.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube bowl, stuffing box, suction and line-shaft bearings continue to operate in a condensate pump in the US ten years after installation.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings pump representative Charlie Simpson, who returned last month from a six week Mexico and US customer-calling tour in which he visited a long-standing customer in Virginia to receive this report.

The customer is a pump repair workshop that offers timely and cost-effective repairs and specifically offers upgrades to shafting, bearings and wear rings to enhance performance and efficiency in older pumps as well as repairs and rebowls vertical turbine pumps.

The customer attests that the bearings are functioning well in the pump.

Condensate pumps operate at 65ÂșC, and are on the cusp of the temperature range that Vesconite is comfortable recommending for its Vesconite Hilube bearing material.

The continued operation of the Vesconite Hilube-fitted condensate pump after ten years attests to the fact that, even with a small amount of water cooling, the bearings are able to survive for some time, says Simpson.

 

 

A leading civil and infrastructure engineering contractor installed Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant U-shaped wear pads on graders in Nigeria.

The company found the wear pads operated well with some chiselling wear on the shorter edge of the U-shaped pad after 535 hours of use.

The wear pads acted as guides that were bolted in place on the grader assembly.

The blade assembly, in turn, slid left to right on the guides with the assistance of hydraulic cylinders behind the blade assembly.

The wear pads are essential in the lateral movement of the grader blades, which are responsible primarily for the levelling and shaping of roads and building sites.

Vesconite application engineer Juan van Wyk notes that Vesconite Hilube was particularly useful in this sliding application since it is self-lubricating, so the grader assembly could easily move horizontally for reach in this dirty, inaccessible location, and for the placement of the windrow (built-up road-building material).

Vesconite Hilube was also valued because of its wear properties, since regular placement and movement of the blade was required in often dusty and muddy conditions.

Van Wyk notes that considerable load was placed on the guides of each grader. In addition to the 2,5 ton blade assembly weight distributed over five guides, the blade pushes 2,5 tons of material and is exposed to a cutting resistance of 2,5 tons on the other side of the guide.

Vesconite Hilube wear pads coped well with the considerable compression and tensile strengths that were needed: “There was no distortion under load, even when wet,” Van Wyk says.

The Vesconite Hilube wear pads replaced bronze wear pads of the same U-shaped design, ensuring that the Caterpillar graders, which they were installed on and which are designed for power, performance, reliability and wear-resistance, continued to operate in tough arduous conditions.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings’s appointment calendar is filling quickly, following its announcement to select clients that it will visit Dubai in December.

Clients who have indicated an interest in meeting with Vesconite come from a range of industries, including the marine and pump industries.

Their enthusiasm in Vesconite is believed to indicate renewed economic optimism in Dubai, with strong GDP growth in the second quarter of 2021 expected to accelerate in the fourth quarter.

Vesconite will also attend meetings with its Dubai stockist, JOME Engineering, which has invited Vesconite representatives Marius van Zyl and Sharon McArdle to participate at its booth at Seatrade Maritime Middle East Expo on Monday to Wednesday 13 to 15 December.

“We’re excited to be coming to Dubai,” says McArdle, whose plans to travel to the emirate with Dubai area specialist Van Zyl were scuppered by Covid early in the pandemic.

“We are looking forward to meeting with our customers and visiting the Seatrade Expo,” she notes.

 

 

A time-lapse video proves that Vesconite Superlube low-friction, high-load-carrying bearings perform well as sliding bearings in large structures, including soccer stadiums.

The video starts shortly after 7pm and shows structural movement throughout the evening, when the stadium concrete beams contract due to cooling, and continues past mid-day, when higher temperatures result in expansion.

These subtle movements, when allowed by a bearing, ensure the safety and the structural stability of the stadium and the continued support of the superstructure by the support columns’ substructure.

Since the stadium was designed to have a capacity of 55,000 spectators, expandable to 75,000, engineering performance was paramount to ensure the stadium withstands temperature- and moisture-related contractions and expansions, as well as earthquake and wind loads.

History of the stadium 

The stadium was built more than ten years ago, and has been used for large sporting events.

The original bearings were a bitumen-impregnated cloth. The columns and beams were made from traditional concrete.

However, after eight years of use, excessive wear was found to the concrete of the continuous support beams and to the supporting columns.

The bitumen-impregnated cloth had been torn or ripped away in some cases, and pieces of concrete in the beams and columns had disintegrated at the corners.

Engineers motivated that an unfortunate congruency of design and building errors, combined with a choice of original bearing materials not suited to the design, necessitated an urgent review of bearing materials and expansion gap designs.

Problem 1 – Small expansion gap

All materials shrink and expand as temperature varies, so an expansion gap is required. Concrete has a known expansion rate so it is important that designs cater for this expansion.

In this stadium in which Vesconite Superlube was eventually installed, the original bearings, made from bitumen-impregnated cloth, were employed at the expansion gap to prevent the columns from bonding with the continuous beam placed on top of them.

The original contractors poured the column first and then used the bitumen-impregnated cloth to separate the column from the continuous beams.

For a joint that doesn’t move much this would have been suitable. But, in the case of the stadium, the gap size and the material specified proved inadequate and concrete was ripped out adjacent to the provided-for gaps. 

Problem 2 – Inadequate steel reinforcement and concrete cover

Since concrete is good in compression but not in tension, many structures, including bridges, have steel reinforcement to resist tensile forces. The steel tends to follow the contour of beams and columns with a certain amount of concrete cover. This prevents corrosion of the steel and the spalling of the concrete that results from exposure to the environment. However, at the stadium, concrete beam and column corners were inadequately strengthened with steel, and the corners cracked off leaving an inadequate bearing surface.

Some steel was badly positioned, possibly because of a lack of oversight during construction. The poured concrete moved, and the steel was not close enough to the surface to keep the corners strong.

The Vesconite Superlube solution

The existing bitumen-impregnated cloth was replaced with Vesconite Superlube, which is a low-friction, high-load-carrying bearing material.

Since Vesconite Superlube was to be used as a sliding bearing, the bearing material was contained within two stainless-steel plates, which would slide relative to each other to allow for translational movements in a horizontal direction.

Unlike various other stainless steel sliding bearing designs, the engineering contractor chose a top metal plate that arched down to join the bottom plate so as to reduce the ingress of dirt. The bottom plate was also longer than those traditionally used in sliding bearings and had a lip at each side; the length maintained the horizontal rigidity of the bearing during installation.

Since there were significant engineering design and maintenance problems in place at the site, installing the Vesconite Superlube bearing solution involved several measures to address existing structural issues:

  1. Hydraulic jacks were brought in to lift beams off the supporting columns.
  2. Where concrete columns or beams had had extensive pieces of concrete ripped off them, these
    were repaired by putting in form work and pouring concrete to ensure that the corners were intact.
  3. Saws with large cutting wheels were used to cut out the ledges on which the Vesconite Superlube
    bearings were to be placed.
  4. Epoxy bedding compound was placed on to the stainless steel top and bottom coverings of the
    Vesconite Superlube bearing to create a level bearing surface.

Vesconite Superlube in structural design

In structural design, vertical load is considered as well as horizontal load. These two loads are used to determine the required column base-strength and the amount of steel and concrete.

If there is a bearing on top of the column, the horizontal force that needs to be taken into account depends on the amount of friction at the top of the column. If you have a lower-friction bearing, then an engineer can design for a lower lateral force, which means less steel and concrete is needed for the column.

“You want those lateral forces to be minimised,” notes Thomas Utermark, the Vesconite structural engineer who was involved in the project.

“That is why Vesconite Superlube could be used very effectively here. The benefit is very low friction with wear resistance that is much better than PTFE,” he says.

Another benefit of implementing Vesconite Superlube in this application was that a smaller bearing could be used, taking advantage of Vesconite Superlube’s high load-carrying capacity. “If there is a space constraint, that is helpful to an engineer,” Utermark notes.