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 ºKelvin, 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 ºKelvin

 

 

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 Condé 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 – 200ºC 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 90ºC 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.

 

 

A drop-size carrot sorter, with Vesconite plain bearings installed on its conveyor chains, has worked well at South Africa’s largest carrot producer for two years.

The carrot producer installed the bearings on one of its two processing lines to test whether the processing line with Vesconite performed better than the standard processing line.

Since installation, the farm reports that Vesconite bearings on its conveyor chains have reduced wear and resulted in quieter operation.

A drop-size sorter consists of a mainframe with sprockets on each side. A chain runs on the sprockets and a polyethylene plate is attached. Rollers, spaced increasingly further apart, are located on the polyethylene plate and carrots, depending on their size, fall through the differently-spaced rollers into bins below.

Ensuring the smooth operation of the sorting machine, including the bearings on its roller chains, is thus paramount.

Vesconite agricultural application engineer Johan Cronje says: “Farmers are concerned about conveyor chain wear. A break in any one of the steel links means that the entire chain needs replacing.”

Chain replacement can be extremely costly. Besides the cost of the chain, a chain breakage could result in a drop-size sorter being out of operation for a day, with resulting losses in production and processing time.

Quieter operation is also important for animal welfare, since animals prefer quieter environments, and human health and safety, since workers may be sorting and working near the traditionally-noisy machines, states Cronje.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has created a lead-free-water webpage to outline how the company aims to reduce lead exposure from drinking water.

View the page: https://www.vesconite.com/solutions/keep-drinking-water-lead-free/

This webpage was motivated by global concerns over safe drinking water, and is to be launched in March 2022, in a month in which World Plumbing Day and World Water Day are historically celebrated.

The former promotes the benefits of safe plumbing and sanitation. The latter focuses on clean, safe drinking water and sanitation.

Reducing lead in drinking water are often emphasised on these days.

Vesconite Bearings is committed to providing lead-free products for the water sector, including bearings, wear rings and wear strips for pumps and valves.

Experts say there are no safe levels of lead. This is especially true for children, who can experience behaviour and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anaemia.

 

 

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 -40ºC.

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 -50ºC (-60ºF).

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 65ºC, 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.

 

 

Vesconite’s Hitemp 150 hanger bearings have been installed at a palm oil processing factory in Cameroon,
Central Africa.

This followed a suggestion to test Vesconite Bearing’s most abrasion-resistant polymer – which also has a high-temperature rating. Abrasion resistance is important for a bearing’s success since wear can result in frequent replacement and factory downtime, while a high temperature rating means that the product can be fitted to screw conveyors with high volumetric flow rates.

Developing hanger bearing materials for screw conveyors

Resulta Exporters, equipment supplier and engineering process designer for the palm oil producer, has already had significant success using Vesconite, Vesconite Bearings’ standard-grade bearing material. Further, Resulta applied Vesconite Hilube as a hanger bearing, an advanced-grade bearing material. But Resulta, always keen on testing and improving the products it supplies to the agroprocessing industry, looked for further improved materials.

“We have used Vesconite since 2007 and this has contributed to the good reputation Resulta screw conveyors have in the industry,” says Project Engineer Quihen Marais.

“We see Vesconite hangers lasting for more than a year,” he notes of the bearing material’s performance in the palm oil industry when the bearing is correctly designed.

With the introduction of Hitemp 150, Resulta hopes to see even longer life hanger-bearings, as well as further reducing plant downtime.

Hanger bearings in the palm oil industry

The palm oil industry is notoriously tough on hanger bearings used in the essential screw conveyors that transport palm oil processing plant products, including steriliser fruitlets (oily), cake from press (oily), nuts (non-oily), cracked nuts (kernels and shells, non-oily), kernels only (non-oily) and shells (non-oily).

“Hanger bearings are the major source of maintenance and breakdowns on screw conveyors,” says Marais.

“Every time a hanger bearing is replaced it comes with costly down time of the factory,” he notes.

According to Marais, hanger bearings that are made from inferior materials often require replacement. They also cause more shaft wear, and this can result in more frequent and expensive shaft replacement.

Hanger bearing design can also contribute to failure: “Designing for a very low PV limit (<5) extends the life of the bushings significantly,” Marais explains.

Both of these issues have been combatted with the introduction of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, since these are wear-resistant materials and can safely operate without any lubrication below a pressure-velocity rating (PV) of 5 and 8, respectively.

The palm oil industry in Africa

The palm oil industry in Africa is small compared with the industry elsewhere. However, there is considerable scope for growth and significant investment is taking place.

Resulta has supplied screw conveyors, which include Vesconite Hilube hanger bearings, to the African palm oil industry since 2007. Countries supplied to date include Nigeria, the DRC, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Ghana.

Resulta continues to pride itself on high-end processing machinery and engineering solutions, and endeavours to work with its clients to solve their engineering challenges.

 

 

Vesconite bushings were fitted to an eight-cubic-metre, multi-purpose grab used to offload ships in Durban ‑ the port that handles the greatest volume of sea-going traffic of any port in southern Africa.

The grab operated under conditions of high ambient temperatures, high humidity and dirt. It was in use 22 hours daily for seven months of the year.

After six years of work, the grab was overhauled and the bushings examined.

The Vesconite bushings:

  • showed no signs of heavy wear;
  • had worn evenly (previous bronze bushes used had worn unevenly); and
  • the pins revealed no signs of wear.

Vesconite is proven when high loads must be carried with small clearances under dirty and unlubricated conditions, and is also most effective in moist, immersed and corrosive applications.

Vesconite combines a high load bearing capacity greater than that of white metal, with self lubricating properties better than those of nylon, while giving up to 10 times longer service than phosphor bronze.

 

 

Several polystyrene factories use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pumps with Vesconite piston-rod bushings being used as a bush and wiper to clean the shafts and keep the contaminants out of the pump.

The bushings are used in Mevaco pumps which supply butane from the butane bulk tanks to the machines that manufacture the polystyrene.

Butane is one of the blowing agents that can be used in the production of expanded polystyrene. The gas is used to make beads of polystyrene expand to produce the foam that is eventually formed into polystyrene drinking cups, plates, picnic coolers and flotation devices, among other items.

Vesconite piston-rod bushings came to be used in LPG pump manufacturer Mevaco Pty’s pumps after several other materials, including porous bronze, graphite, carbon and glass-filled polytetrafluoroethylene and nylon, were tested and found unsuitable.

“Because of priming difficulties when pumping a liquid above its boiling point, and the fact that the liquid is a perfect solvent for most lubricants, LPG pumps are often run absolutely dry,” noted the LPG pump manufacturer’s late owner, Gerrie Meyer, in a product testimonial from Mevaco Pty to Vesconite 28 years ago.

“During use, especially when disconnecting hoses, liquid boils off in the pump and the freezing effect causes moisture to condense,” Meyer said, adding that this factor, together with the severe temperature changes, demanded large clearances for components.

Various alternative materials were chosen for the components, but none proved long-lasting under adverse conditions except Vesconite, which has a lifespan ten times that of bronze, does not swell unlike nylon, and is self lubricating.

“Many users of my pumps have marvelled at the ‘mysterious’ grey material used for these parts, and I am convinced that the resulting acquaintance with Vesconite has been responsible for far more use of it by various establishments than the modest quantity used in my pumps,” enthused Meyer in the testimonial.

Meyer’s family business, Mevaco Pty, continues to use Vesconite in piston-rod bushings and composite piston discs in its LPG pumps.

The company has manufactured more than 1,500 LPG pumps. Meyer and partner, Peter van Alpen, have been succeeded in the business by Max Viljoen, who is the present owner of Mevaco Pty.

The pumps that are in use at present have a life span of two to six years, with the longevity of the pump dependent on when the seals become unviable.

“There are pumps that have been running for 28 years where maintenance has been correctly administered and seals replaced,” enthuses Viljoen.

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) so, since Vesconite is suited to temperatures ranging from -40°C (-40°F) to 65°C (150°F), Vesconite is suitable for this low temperature application and will not degrade or become brittle at this gas’ boiling point or at its typical liquid-phase temperature.

Besides being able to operate at low temperatures, Vesconite has a long-wear life that is superior to other materials, including nylon and bronze.

Alternative products also generally require large clearances because of temperature changes that can occur when the gas changes phase as a result of disconnecting hoses. Vesconite, in contrast, can operate with small clearances.

 

 

Many customers complained about their castor and trolley jack wheels … so we decided to create our new “Everlasting Range” – long-life wheels named after the beautiful Everlasting flowers that have evolved to outlast their competitors.

You can now buy tested-and-proven long-lasting wheels, suitable for food processing and warehouse environments, with tough Vesco Polycap on the outside and long-life Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant bushings on the inside, and running on stainless steel axles.

The advantages of fitting Vesconite wheels include that they have high load capacity, are wear resistant, have a long life, are floor friendly, are temperature resistant, and exhibit a smooth rolling action so they are easier to manoeuvre.

 

 

There is no end to the applications for which Vesconite can be used – even in the coldest climates.

In the USA, commercial snow throwers are fitted with Vesconite bearings. The bearings are on both sides of the auger gear box and come into operation if the auger shear breaks and the power continues. This allows the gear box and transfer shaft to keep turning when the auger jams.

The trackless blower is able to blow snow 40 to 60 feet (15 to 20 metres) from the chute without forming ugly berms.

Vesconite is the material of choice for the freezing, harsh, dirty conditions in which this agile, trackless blower works. Vesconite does not become brittle in extreme cold and copes with wear in the wet, giving low friction, long life with minimal lubrication

 

 

The 36-meter Miss Silver sailing yacht has returned to her New Zealand birthplace for a complete refit, including fore and aft Vesconite Hilube propeller bearings.

The two bearings, 5¼” on the outside diameter, 4¼” on the inside and 17″ long, replaced phenolic-backed rubber bearings.

The Vesconite Hilube bearings offer the advantage of close clearances, thus reducing vibration.

They do not swell in water, do not delaminate or distort under high loads, do not corrode, do not require lubrication, are resistant to oils and fuels, are easy to fit and remove, and prolong shaft life.

“This luxury yacht is known for its robust, updated and elegantly simple engineering systems,” says Vesconite New Zealand technical sales consultant Eddie Swanepoel.

Its propulsion system is also vital, since the Miss Silver is a performance yacht, coming in first place in the Millennium Cup in Auckland, New Zealand, in March 2021, he notes.

Besides the replacement of the propeller bearings, the refit will include interior décor and fittings, new teak decks, complete repaint, mast service and rigging replacement, new sails and systems maintenance and/or replacement as needed.

The refit is taking place at Superyacht Coatings’ world-class shed and facility in Tauranga and will be ready for New Zealand summer cruising.

Miss Silver was designed by Ed Dubois and built by Alloy Yachts.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is the newest member of the 130-organisation-strong International Windship Association (IWSA), following its acceptance in August into the non-profit organisation as a technology and service provider.

IWSA facilitates and promotes wind propulsion for commercial shipping worldwide and brings together all parties in the development of a wind-ship sector to shape industry and government attitudes and policies.

This accords well with Vesconite Bearings’ belief in the importance of wind-propelled or partially-wind-propelled ships.

“Ships using wind propulsion are important since this reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of the shipping industry,” says Vesconite renewables and marine-applications engineer Petrus Fourie.

“By introducing wind propulsion into commercial shipping, fuel consumption and, thus emissions, can be reduced by 30%-100%,” he notes.

“This reduces greenhouse emissions and provides huge savings for commercial shipping operators,” Fourie adds.

Being a member of IWSA provides Vesconite Bearings with good opportunity to contribute its experience in renewable energy, marine and shipping.

“Technology to provide primary or secondary wind propulsion for ships requires high strength, low speed, low maintenance and long life bearings, which work well in the marine environment,” explains Fourie.

 

 

Some 2,000 pump bushings have been ordered for a new vertical turbine range that is being developed by a Texas pump manufacturer.

The pump manufacturer has been a client of Vesconite Bearings since June 2012, ordering wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube bushings for applications that call for small clearances in sometimes abrasive conditions.

With the design of the new range, the manufacturer will include Vesconite Hilube polymer plain bearings as standard components in seven models.

“Some 30 bushings of different sizes have been requested for different pump stages,” says pump technical consultant Charlie Simpson.

“Samples of these have been delivered for approval, and between 25 and 100 units of the individual bushings will be delivered next month,” he adds.

The pump manufacturer has about 75 pump models and stocks a wide range of replacement parts for these.

It specialises in providing pumps that meet the custom needs of its clients.

 

 

Can improved bearing life be achieved by providing a better bearing cage?

Ball bearings operating in harsh or abrasive conditions may have reduced operating times between failures due to the dirt and abrasive materials that enter the bearings, necessitating frequent bearing replacement.

Not particularly well understood in the reduced lifetime of these bearings is the role played by bearing
cage wear.

If bearing cages are made from materials that

  • exhibit low wear rates, and
  • are not badly impacted by dirt and abrasives,

can bearing life be significantly extended?

The role played by bearing cage wear was investigated by Chris Venter at South African chemical company African Explosives and Chemical Industries’ (AECI) plant in Sasolburg. In an effort to increase bearing wear life, Venter investigated and tested bearing cages made from three materials, namely steel, heat treated Monel and Vesconite Standard.

Frequent ball bearing replacements were required on a polyethylene reactor stirrer motor due to the excessive wear of a critical ball bearing. This resulted in significant downtime, since the reactor had to be shut down and cleaned out before the bearing could be replaced.

The original bearing had a cage manufactured from a steel grade, and was replaced after 400 hours of operation. The cage holes had worn from an original diameter of 22.5 mm to 27.2 mm, that is 4.7 mm. See table 1 and figure 1.

A new bearing was installed with a heat treated Monel steel cage. After 2,000 hours of operation (a life improvement of five times), the cage holes had worn 1.4 mm from 22.5 to 23.9 mm, a reduction in wear of 70%.

Seeking to improve the bearing lifetime even further, Venter then tested replacing the bearing cage with Vesconite, a self-lubricating bearing material.

This proved to be an excellent substitution, with the Vesconite bearing cage running 9,500 hours without any problems. This was a bearing life increase of 24 times compared to 400 hours of the initial bearing with a steel cage.

Upon dismantling and inspection, the Vesconite bearing cage showed negligible wear with only 0.07 mm of wear and was in excellent working condition. This represented a reduction in bearing cage wear of 98.5%, even though the bearing had operated for 24 times longer.

Expressing the improvement in operating life and cage wear reduction as a wear factor index compared to the original steel, the Monel cage represented a 17 times wear factor improvement, and the Vesconite cage a wear factor improvement of 1,670 times.

Venter wrote at the time (1988): “The Vesconite cage performed far above expectations and since the first Vesconite cage was installed not one motor had to be changed due to a bearing failure. This contributes to a saving of about R200,000 per annum.”

Calculating this saving in today’s terms (June 2021), a R200,000 annual saving is equivalent to a saving of R1.7 million, about US$123,000 per year.

These carefully recorded observations of performance in a tough real world application, combined with significant financial savings, highlight the value of further investigating the potential Vesconite Standard can play in dramatically extending anti-friction bearing life through improved cage materials.

New, advanced Vesconite grades, developed over the past 30 years, namely Vesconite Hilube, Vesconite Superlube and Hitemp 160, create further opportunities for reducing wear and potentially even greater saving.

Bearing cage material Hours in Operation Bearing cage nominal hole diameter (mm) Bearing cage worn hole diameter (mm) Estimated Wear (mm) Wear as percentage of ball diameter Wear factor
Original 400 22.5 27.24 4.74 21.1 1
Heat-treated Monel steel 2,000 22.5 23.92 1.42 6.3 17
Vesconite Standard 9,500 22.5 22.57 0.07 0.3 1,670
Original – 400 hours

Heat-treated Monel Steel – 2,000 hours
Vesconite Standard – 9,500 hours
Vesconite Standard – 9,500 hours

 

 

A Vesconite pulley has been introduced as a standard component in a hitching solution developed by a New Zealand agricultural equipment manufacturer.

Located on the lift arm of the system, the rope that passes through the pulley is fed first to a rotating top pin and then to a bottom pin. The whole hitching solution is attached to the tractor cab and used to attach to a range of trailed implements and farming equipment.

“Vesconite pulleys have been introduced as standard in the SAM Quick Hitch in the last few months,” says Vesconite Bearings representative Eddie Swanepoel.

The rope glides easily in the low-friction material of the pulley.

Since the Vesconite pulley, which acts as a rope guide, is low-friction, it is less noisy and animals do not frighten easily, adds Swanepoel.

 

 

A US supplier of marine parts has found considerable demand for Vesconite T-handle and flatter stern screw-in drain plugs for a particular brand of wake surfing boats built between 2006 and 2014.

The original drain plugs were made of brass and also had a brass base. They were found to corrode due to galvanic corrosion, a process through which one metal corrodes preferentially when two metals are in contact with each other. They were also found to be hard to remove and required greasing of the thread, which is not ideal due to environmental concerns about lubrication in a marine environment.

Users have now looked elsewhere. Brass, stainless steel and aluminium are all available. Different sizes and shapes are also obtainable, particularly among the T-handle plug offering.

However, many of users continue to face difficulties with their drain plugs, and have chosen Vesconite replacements, which are made of a polymer that does not swell, does not require lubrication, is resistant to the effect of ultraviolet light and remains unaffected by sea water.

The Vesconite T-handle plugs and stern plugs have been a long-standing order from the US marine-part supplier for ten years, and thousands of units are now employed in trailered boats globally.

The correct insertion, proper tightening and sealing of a drain plug is essential to making a boating safe.

The removal of boat plugs is also an important way of ensuring the stored boats do not fill with water. Moreover, plug removal after boating is also vital to ensure that aquatic invasive species are not spread from one water body to another water body, which is a serious concern in many parts of the world, including in the US.

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the marine drain plugs, believes that custom and OEM boatbuilders understand the importance of details, even down to the drain plug. A quality fitting—especially one that is used so often with trailered boats—reflects highly on the brand.

“Vesconite has 10 times the wear life of traditional bronze,” says Vesconite Bearings marine representative Sharon Mc Ardle.

“This is an important feature as the polymer is unlikely to abrade and will not corrode, and ultimately begin to leak.”

The polymer that makes up the drain plugs is available in the US in custom precision-machined, ready-to-use parts or as raw stock.

 

 

A large wind turbine manufacturer continues to use Vesconite Hilube actuator bearing supports in its wind turbines’ hydraulic blade pitch control systems.

Pitch control systems are essential to protect wind turbines in adverse weather conditions as well as maximise the energy production of wind turbines. These systems allow blades to be twisted so that load can be reduced when wind speeds are high and even stopped completely in over-speed conditions. Pitch control also allows the blades to be adjusted a few degrees to optimise for wind speeds and wind direction.

Since these systems are vital in high wind conditions, as well as to ensure optimal energy production, only tried-and-tested components are used.

It is thus with confidence that the large wind turbine manufacturer continues to support its pitch control systems with Vesconite Hilube bearings that it has used since 2003 in its own branded turbines.

Indeed, the engineers associated with the development of the company’s proprietary system have had experience of Vesconite Hilube’s performance in wind turbines since the early 1990s when they were associated with various other companies which, together with their intellectual property (IP) and expertise, were later incorporated by Vesconite Bearings’ current client.

One of the engineers who has been consistently involved with the development of the IP that is currently employed by the wind turbine manufacturer, Bruce Valpy, now Managing Director of leading wind industry consultancy BVG Associates, notes that Vesconite Hilube was “the only bearing material that coped with the tough, constant, back-and-forth duty in its mechanical pitch systems.”

He further notes that, after testing several bearing materials for the hydraulic pitch control arms, it was found that only Vesconite Hilube displayed satisfactory wear life.

“We had such good experience of the Vesconite product and the support, that we included it in our shortlisted materials for the actuator bearing supports,” Valpy says.

“After rigorous accelerated life testing, it again came out best, and went on to perform excellently, supporting thousands of pitch actuators in operation around the world,” he notes.

It is estimated that 90% of new wind turbines have pitch control systems installed to mitigate the catastrophic failures that might occur in extreme weather conditions.

Combining low friction, minimal wear rate and very low lubrication needs as well as UV resistance and cold and hot climate tolerance, Vesconite Hilube has proved to be the ideal plain bearing material for wind turbine pitch control system bearings.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings’ Hitemp 160 polymer bearing material has been approved for use in food-contact applications.

This is according to CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who received the formal certification letter from the Laboratoire National De Métrologie et d’Essais (LNE) – the French public institution tasked with the voluntary or regulatory certification of products, management systems and services.

The LNE states that the bearing material complies with European Regulation n°10/2011/UE and amendments and, as such, is approved for food contact.

This follows Vesconite supplying a sample of its material to the testing body in January and its passing of a series of immersion tests required by the testing organisation in April.

The certification is important since many clients require Vesconite’s materials to operate in food processing environments, and to be assured that their processing plants are contaminant free and safe.

Hitemp 160 is white in colour so no colour is transferred from the bearing to the food product and no visible foreign material can be detected in the final product.

It also possesses many other required characteristics: it does not swell, so it is appropriate for the often moist food-processing environment; it is extremely wear resistant, making it ideal for food products or intermediate food products that are abrasive; it is suitable for contact with cold and hot water, operating up to 160°C (320°F), and, in many applications, even up to 220°C (425°F), so it is fitting for processing plants which are exposed to the steam and high temperatures; and has excellent chemical resistance, both to strong acids and strong alkalis, so it withstands many cleaning chemicals.

“We believe that the food industry will enthusiastically adopt our material and are pleased our material has been tested for use in this industry,” says Leger.

 

 

Many pump manufacturers are pleased that Vesconite Bearings has developed Hitemp 160, a no-grease-needed bearing material able to operate up to 160°C (320ºF), and even up to 220ºC (430ºF) depending on the application.

This is because they are eager to have one bearing material that can cope with multiple applications and wide temperature ranges.

“Companies do not want to continuously adapt their pumps to the wide range of chemicals and temperatures that they might encounter,” says Vesconite Bearings CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“Even if 90% of the pumps they sell are for cold-water applications, they don’t want to change bearing materials and wear rings for the 10% of cases where they will be exposed to high temperatures, solvents, or acids and alkalis,” he states.

With the introduction of Hitemp 160, pump companies can be assured that their bearings and wear rings will cope with temperatures up to 160°C; will not swell; are low-friction; have excellent chemical resistance; and are suited to contact with cold water, hot water and steam.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube low-maintenance low-friction 3D printer bushings played an important part in the fabrication of a fossil giant wombat skeleton (Phascolonus sp.) for an exhibit on Australian Megafauna.

Phascolonus was two to three times larger than modern wombats, and had a body weight up to around 200 kg. The project consisted of over 100 components, including an over-400-mm-long skull and an over-600-mm-long pelvis.

Dr Martin Ankor, of Cartesian Creations, printed the Phascolonus replica using several printers. A pair of Prusa Mk3s, equipped with Vesconite Hilube bushings, were used to get the project under way, and a larger custom CoreXY machine was constructed to fabricate the larger parts. The Prusas printed most of the smaller bones, as well as all the parts needed for the CoreXY.

“These types of prints often have difficult support requirements [New layers of heated filament may need to be printed without support from lower layers] but, with well developed profiles and accurate printers, that is rarely a problem,” he says, noting that his machines have a print success rate of over 95%.

Other challenges with projects such as these are the complexities of biological forms. Computerised tomography (CT) and micro-CT scans often need significant processing to make the files ready for printing.

“I’ve printed well over 100 different specimens for museums and researchers ranging from tiny rat jaws to mammal and dinosaur skulls,” he says.

“There is demand, and that demand is likely to increase. However, there is also the need to operate within limited budgets and tight funding,” he notes.

Dr Ankor recalls that he did not change the printer bushings to Vesconite Hilube specifically for museum printing, but that prototyping, developing field equipment, and museum commissions all require clean and accurate prints, with often complicated support requirements.

The main reason why he changed to Vesconite Hilube bushings was that he wanted printers that could operate for long periods of time with minimal maintenance.

“I run a small print farm, and don’t have much redundancy (or spare time) to take a machine out of service for maintenance,” says Dr Ankor.

“Vesconite Hilube bushings are low maintenance and, in the event of a problem with the rod/bearing, aren’t likely to cause damage to anything else. In contrast, if a traditional bearing goes bad, then you often need to replace both rods and bearings,” he concludes.

 

 

A 54%-per-component saving has been realised by Powerworks following the replacement of bronze bushings with a Vesconite low-friction bearings in the Jetstream turbine starters.

This is according to Powerworks Manufacturing Manager Philip van den Hoeck, who was responsible for the initiative to replace the bushing located inside a drive spindle that acts as a guide for the spindle.

Testing for normal operation

He notes that the saving has been achieved without any loss in performance, as attested to by six months of in-house testing on a Detroit 6-cylinder engine, a dynamometer as well as on hydraulic test benches to test the efficiency of the motor.

Van den Hoeck confirms that the specific bushing is not subject to rotational wear in normal operation as it only moves backwards and forwards.

Vesconite was tested for this motion and no appreciable wear was measured, he says.

Testing for rotational wear

The bushing was also tested for rotational wear to verify that it performs even in the unlikely situation in which the pinion gets stuck, does not disengage and the starter starts to run together with the engine.

Since there are clutch teeth inside the housing, the latter scenario would result in the bushing running in the opposite direction to the shaft. 

“We’ve tested it in house and we have run it in the opposite direction to see if there is an impact on it, which is not the standard application,” states Van den Hoeck, who notes that the testing confirmed that the bushing did not show wear even in this worst-case scenario.

On Powerworks and the introduction of the bushing

Since Powerworks is ISO 9001 accredited, an engineering change notification was compiled on all the items that were tested, as is required for ISO certification rules.

Powerworks has since introduced the Vesconite bushing as a standard component in its pre-engage starter motor, and had used it in 300 units by the end of May 2021.

The company manufactures the bushings in-house along with all other components for the 3000 rpm starter motor that has a three- to five-second starting cycle.

 

 

A Gunboat 60, which was refitted in New Zealand, embarked on a Pacific voyage in late April with newly-installed Vesconite rudder pivots acting as the advanced sliding bearing, allowing smooth and effortless sliding of the retractable rudders when sailing in shallow water.

Specialist marine engineering and design firm, Thorne Design, was contracted to improve the operation of the propulsion system that had been in place since the catamaran was originally built in 2014/15. 

The design firm was employed to upgrade existing components and improve performance, including making the steering feel lighter, reducing the likelihood of failures, loading the system more evenly, and generally improving the way that the system works.

Part of the upgrade included the installation of a Vesconite rudder pivot that acts as a centre point in the retractable rudder bearing, which is described by Thorne Design owner Eliot Thorne as being a scaled-down version of a daggerboard bearing.

Above: A section view of the catamaran, indicating the fully retractable rudder system.

High load capacity

A high-performance sailing catamaran, such as the one that the rudder pivot was installed on, requires high-aspect daggerboards or rudders. Being long and thin, and with the loads generated, they require high-performance materials such as carbon fibre, titanium and Vesconite.

A catamaran such as the Gunboat 60 is capable of sailing at 25 to 30 knots and cruising in the majority of weathers at 15 knots. Because of the performance of the boat, and the comfort that it offers, the loads on the rudder are significant. 

“Vesconite is one of the few materials that can deal with the compression loads that we are talking about,” says Thorne, noting that, for the installed bearing, up to 4,5 ton of load comes through the rudder system.

Fully retractable rudder system

Complicating the design of the rudders and their bearings is the fact that many high-performance catamarans are used for cruising in the shallow waters around the South Pacific, the Caribbean or the Bahamas.

For the Gunboat that was refitted, this means that the existing fully retractable rudder system was maintained so that the boat is capable of exploring almost anywhere in the world, even in shallow waters thanks to the rudders and daggerboards being able to be brought completely up into the hull.

Vesconite also proved a good choice in this case since it is self-lubricating and its slipperiness and low coefficient of friction allows for the easy retraction of the rudder.

“The rudders can be taken completely out of the water,” explains Thorne. 

Improved design

“This Vesconite pivot acts as a centre point of the lower bearing,” he says, noting that there was corrosion, cracking and deterioration with the previous acetal bearings, which were fixed and operated as a simple slide.

“We wanted to create this pivot system so that the loads would be more effectively transferred from the rudder into the bearing. This avoids it being loaded unevenly and there will be no twist; this reduces friction and ensures that the helm feels light,” he notes.

On Vesconite

“They just keep on working. Vesconite doesn’t bind over time, it doesn’t swell, it stays slippery and there is no wear,” says Thorne. 

Thorne confirms that the changes to the rudder system of the Gunboat were made specifically for a particular Pacific voyage.

While Thorne Design had been conceptualising the design and engineering requirements for some time, the bulk of the engineering work was carried out in a month.

“Having the product available in New Zealand was quite critical in being able to make that happen,” states Thorne.

 

 

An engineered polymer traditionally used for bearings has reduced fire risks on solvent extraction (SX) plants.  

The polymer, Vesconite, has been installed by SAM Engineering on base plates upon which its centrifugal pumps are mounted.

The motors are flame proof; they are ATEX certified, a European safety standard for electrical equipment in hazardous environments.

Vesconite is thus not required to isolate against stray current coming from the motor as all motors are fitted with earth studs.

“Instead, the Vesconite pads isolate the pumps against stray current that travels in the copper solution or other equipment in SX plants,” says Rowen Govender of SAM Engineering’s Technical Sales Department.

Like many polymers, Vesconite is a good insulator. What makes it different to other polymers is that it is dimensionally stable and does not absorb water. Importantly, it handles high static load without deformation, and this is critical for SX pumps, which are heavy.

Govender informs that the 400 kW motor coupled to the SAM pump supplied to SX plants typically weighs 3,500 kg, and pumps 2,000 – 2,500 m3/hour to a head of 40 – 45 m.

Each pump is mounted on to three Vesconite isolation pads that are located, in turn, on a stainless-steel base.

SX plants are the heart of the copper processing operation. Fire protection is important to prevent loss of life, and to reduce the likelihood of plant fire, which could result in significant equipment replacement costs and considerable costs if the plant is not operational for lengthy periods.

SAM Engineering has had considerable success in harsh mining and processing environments. It prides itself in custom pumps made for operation-critical applications.

 

 

Vesconite wear-resistant sleeve bearing replacements have been fitted as standard components in a range of Powerstart hydraulic and turbine starter motors, with some 550 of these motors in the field at the end of May 2021.

These plain bearings replaced internal and external needle-roller bearings, which are a special type of roller bearing with thin needle-like rollers.

“The external needle-roller bearing could not be sealed completely, so there was ingress of dirt that caused the bearing to seize up,  reports Powerworks Manufacturing Manager Philip van den Hoeck.

“If clients continued to use the motor with the affected bearing, they sometimes had to replace the bearing, the shaft and even the whole cone head,” he elaborates.

With wear-resistant Vesconite replacing the problematic external needle-roller bearing as well as the internal needle-roller bearing, there was virtually no wear. Replacement of the shaft and nose cone was eliminated and they had an overall longer-lasting bearing. 

“We are providing a better product to the customer and have no comebacks related to the bearings,” states Van den Hoeck. 

“It puts our product one step further in front of our competition,” he says.

Besides the cost saving to the customer thanks to the longer-life bearings and protection of the shaft and nose cone by the Vesconite replacement bushings, Vesconite also offers savings to the manufacturer.

“We had a 10% saving on the bearing components,” tells Van den Hoeck.

Since the bearings are critical components, Vesconite went through 18 months of in-house and field testing.

After testing, the clearances were still within manufacturing tolerances.

“The bearings stayed in spec,” says Van den Hoeck.

“It is a great product,” he notes of the bearings that are used in motors destined for mining, marine and general applications.

 

 

 

Conrad Penzhorn has been appointed Managing Director of Vesconite Bearings BV, the wholly-owned Netherlands subsidiary of plain bearing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings.

He joined Vesconite Bearings in 2019 as a Development Engineer, specialising in automotive applications.

The bearing-material manufacturer sees the European pumps, marine and rail markets as key to growth.

Penzhorn intends to increase the company’s attention on these industries in the initial phase of his appointment and will expand the target industries to include the high-potential automotive and agricultural sectors later.

He will act as the key contact for Vesconite in Europe and will assist clients with application assessments and urgent requests as he promotes the company’s self-lubricating wear-resistant no-swell materials.

Notes Penzhorn: “Europe represents a significant growth opportunity, with the European subsidiary having seen sizeable growth since it was established in 2017.”

 

 

Ultrablack plate has been running for 15 years on a premier-sparkling-wine neck-freezer machine with no wear or swelling.

This is according to Johan Brits, CEO of machinery manufacturing and maintenance company Vino Tech. Brits reports the machine operates for 300 days a year bottling 1100 bottles per hour at a sparkling-wine bottler in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Neck-freezing is a process required when bottle-fermenting sparkling wines in a style that follows the original Champagne wine making style. It involves a second fermentation process in the bottle to produce the bubbles and refreshing taste associated with a premier sparkling wine.

Since some fermentation takes place in the bottle, a disgorging process is required to remove a plug of frozen dead yeast cells.

Brits explains that bottles go into the neck-freezing machine upside down because of the sediment in the neck and cork of the bottles.

The bowl in which the neck goes into is filled with glycol at -28°C, which allows the sediment to freeze and then the bottle turned right side up so that the sediment does not fall back into the bottle. It is removed in a separate process.

Ultrablack plate, a premium wear resistant material for sliding wear applications is used on the wine-bottle-holding conveyor belt.

Little wear and no swelling take place despite the wet conditions and the large numbers of bottles transported, reports Brits.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube bushings lasted three times longer in a heat exchanger used for the forced cooling of wine at a bottling company in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Forced cooling may be used to stabilise wine and prevent the future formation of tartrate crystals. The bottler forces tartrate crystals to form which are removed through a number of steps including filtration. This eliminates the need for wine-lovers to decant or filter their wine when drinking it.

Johan Brits, CEO of plant machinery manufacturing and maintenance company Vino Tech, informs that the original heat exchanger, from an Italian original equipment manufacturer, was fitted with chrome bushings that did not react well to the temperature fluctuations of between 8 and 10°C.

“The temperature fluctuations caused the chrome bushings to burst and the seals to wear.”

“The bushings were replaced with Vesconite Hilube and the seals with silicone and the result was an up to three times longer lifespan,” states Brits.

 

 

Repair work at the Hammanskraal Drinking Water Project in Tshwane, South Africa, has included replacement of the lower bearing on an Archimedes screw with a Vesconite Hilube polymer bearing.

The bearing has a 202 mm inner diameter, a 300 mm outer diameter and is 407 mm long.  The bottom bearing shaft with the hub and base plate weighed 723kg.

It formed part of a turnkey design and manufacturing project to redesign the screw pumps in a project contracted to the Shosalowe Inv / Wamechsi Group.

Vesconite Hilube was chosen because the application is submerged, and Vesconite Hilube does not swell in water. It was also specified in this potable water application since self-lubricating Vesconite Hilube does not require grease, which can be hazardous to human health if consumed, and it is certified for potable water and food contact applications.

Chris Fourie, of Atlas Lifting Equipment, carried out the maintenance on the Archimedes screw between December 2020 and January 2021.

Fourie tends to use phosphor brass or greased eco-bearings for raw sewerage Archimedes screw applications, but specifies Vesconite Hilube for potable water applications.

He will continue to use Vesconite Hilube for the Hammanskraal lower bearings, and envisages that replacement will take place every two years at this plant that operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The Hammanskraal Drinking Water Project’s Archimedes screws were installed in 2017, have a length of 12.6 m, a diameter of 2 m and the screw body weighs 7.6 tons. Powered by a 90 kW motor, it runs at 47 rpm.

It is regarded as important since it is self-regulating, pumping less when the water level is lower and more when the water level is higher.

Archimedes screw pump with new bottom bearing fitted.
Face surface cleaning and preparation for installation of the new bottom bearing.
Transportation of the 7.6 t Archimedes screw pump body.

 

 

A starch and glucose producer in South Africa fitted Vesconite wear-resistant deflectors to its centrifugal pumps in 2019, and substantial maintenance, component and capital-cost savings resulted.

Deflectors are cylindrical rings placed at either end of the bearing assembly around the shaft. In this application, they fit at the end of oil lip seals to prevent the ingress of water and dust.

The producer had previously not used deflectors but in the food environment, in which the pumps are hosed down as part of hygiene practises, it was noted that the life of bearings could be improved with deflectors being installed.

Pump solutions provider SAM Engineering proposed deflectors and a cost-effective material that would protect the bearing assembly against dust and water was sought for. On most sites / process plants, fitting of deflectors are generally overlooked, as lip seals serve the purpose of retaining lubricant in the bearing housing and prevent water and dust ingress; however, installing deflectors provided added protection.

SAM Engineering reports that the Vesconite deflector is likely to improve the life of bearings and decrease the likelihood of mechanical seal replacement and, most importantly, protect the bearing assembly, the cost of which can be considerable.

The bearing assembly totals 30% of the cost of this chemical-process pump, so the Vesconite deflectors could be said to protect 30% of pump value, the pump solution company states.

 

 

When Vesconite Bearings’ team visited knife-gate valve manufacturer A.C.Valves to fully understand how its client was using low-friction wear-resistant Vesconite polymer guide strips in knife gates, the company was manufacturing two valves for a South African gold mine that had experienced a break-down.

The 20” valves had been requested the day before and the mine’s supplier was due to pick them up on the day of Vesconite’s visit to the company, which can manufacture 200 – 300 knife gate valves a month depending on the size of the valve.

A.C.Valves director Collin Scott notes that the gold mine required two narrow-design Wafer Ring Flange (RF) bi-directional valves, which are A.C.Valves’ most popular design and the design that uses Vesconite as a guide strip.

The valves, which handle light and medium slurries, are relatively thin and are designed in keeping with mining company plant designs that require small compact plants.

The Wafer RF valves consist of two cast iron pieces with a stainless steel gate that lies sandwiched between the two. A PTFE rod with an O-ring acts as a scraper at the bottom of cast-iron valve halves and a rubber seal fits onto the blade.

Three Vesconite strips, meanwhile, are fitted on to the valve casing and act as guide strips, describes Scott.

“The Vesconite gives a longer life to the blade. It prevents metal-on-metal wear, which would otherwise result in scratches on the blade which, when it was retracted into the stuffing box, would cause leakages,” he elaborates.

Scott notes that he manufactures quality products that will not breakdown and cause downtime and unscheduled shut downs for unexpected replacements and maintenance.

His clients are aware that he has developed a product that is known for its quality, for its improved sealing, repairability and parts availability.

“We have had no complaints about the Vesconite guide strips and there has not been a case where the valve has failed due to the guide strips,” Scott continues.

“I have been using it for 10 years and it has worked perfectly,” he says.

Many of A.C.Valves’ customers are in the mining industry, and these companies would require robust knife-gate valves of different sizes depending on the size of their plants. They would need reliable valves that do not result in the loss of any commodity-containing slurry.

Other customers include those in the water industry. These also have demanding requirements since valves are specified to remain in situ and have no maintenance requirements for twenty years.

A.C.Valves was established in 1996 and specialises in knife-gate valves that are supplied to many countries in Africa, as well as Canada, Argentina and other countries.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has been hard at work identifying the most common propeller shaft bearings used in the leisure marine industry.

It has done so to ensure that the right stock is available when clients need a particular item.

Vesconite Bearings has since identified 170 frequently used sizes.

Its imperial sizes range from shaft diameters of ¾ through to 6½ inches with a bearing length of 30 inches.

In metric sizes, meanwhile, the range extends for shaft diameters from 20 to 155 mm with a length of 620 mm.

It also has a range of flanged bearings available and can machine special sizes of any diameter.

“Vesconite Hilube is an exceptional bearing material, especially in the marine industry that faces demanding conditions,” says CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“It is made from internally-lubricated polymers that have ultra-low friction and no-swell properties. These attributes make Vesconite Hilube ideal for marine bearing applications in submerged or dry applications,” he adds.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings supplied dressing rollers made with long-life, internally-lubricated Vesconite Hilube bearings to Brakwater Abattoir, in Namibia.

Carcasses are suspended using the rollers on overhead rails, then transferred on manual conveyors to different parts of the abattoir. The dressing rollers operate in a cold and damp environment and need to carry heavy loads: a carcass typically weighs 400 to 620 kg. Moving the carcasses caused extensive wear and breakages to the previous dressing rollers the abattoir used, and extra hands were needed to move the carcasses from one line to the next.

Vesconite dressing rollers glide smoothly between the lines, reducing manual labour. Where previously two people were required to bodily move carcasses to the next line, now one person can move the carcasses with one hand.

Vesconite Hilube dressing rollers were installed in March 2020 and, by February 2021, still did not need replacement while the previous rollers only lasted six months. Maintenance Manager Julias Marais comments that he is so grateful that Vesconite was introduced to him and that will never go back to the old rollers. “Puik materiaal! (Great material)” he says.

 

 

A large-diameter six-meter lathe is expected at Vesconite Bearings’ South African factory in the next few weeks.

The lathe will be able to machine extra-large-diameter bearings, which are in demand for marine mining, container ships, oil tankers, and equipment used to generate renewable power from tides, waves and currents.

The lathe has a ‘swing-over-bed’ of 1,630 mm and a bed of 6,000 mm, which means that it can machine a tube with a diameter of up to 1,630 mm and a length of six meters.

Other noteworthy specifications are that it has a ‘swing-in-gap’ of 1,890 mm, which means that it can machine short bearings and discs of that diameter.

At present, Vesconite Bearings has a vertical lathe that it uses to machine bearings with diameters up to 1.2 m.

The new machine will expand the company’s machining capability and increase the speed at which it is able to machine bearings.

“We will be able to supply customers quicker,” says CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger. “This is essential for marine clients, since keeping a ship in dry dock for repairs can be costly.”

 

 

The first batch of 60 Magnevane pneumatic chainsaws (The Swordfish M15) with Vesconite Hilube polymer vanes will arrive in South Africa in early March. A further 150 saws will arrive monthly thereafter to go into the South African underground gold and platinum mines, which get through 15,000 pneumatic chainsaws every year. The Magnevane Swordfish has the most powerful and efficient air motor in the world, which is one of the reasons it uses Vesconite high performance polymers.

The Swordfish M15 chainsaw

The pneumatic chainsaws were developed for underground mines in which timber poles are often used to support the roof – known as the hanging wall – to prevent collapses in the confined underground stopes (work areas) that follow the orebody.

Tested on several South African gold and platinum mines, the Swordfish demonstrates better performance than traditional chainsaws.

The chainsaws cut support poles in restricted spaces and are required to have excellent reliability and efficiency so they can remain underground for extended periods.

The Magnevane Swordfish is distinct from its competitors in several ways, including its ground-breaking patented air motor that uses magnets to maintain an airtight seal between the vanes and the motor housing. Magnevane has chosen to fit its chainsaw motor with Vesconite Hilube self-lubricated wear-resistant vanes, which provide both longer vane life and lower friction to further enhance the high-performance characteristics of the Magnevane air motor.  

Standard air motors use a few different techniques to create the seal between the vanes and the housing. Some air motors have springs to push the vanes against the housing. However, because of the rapid temperature changes the springs lose tension over time and do not last long, so increasing maintenance cost and downtime. Another option for high-end motors are cams that push out the vanes at intervals, but this too has disadvantages in that they limit the range of motion available and are more expensive to maintain. Further options include air channelled through the shaft pushing out the vanes, or simply centrifugal force. All of these options have severe limitations and result in declining performance over the life of the vane, which needs to be compensated by over specifying the motor. The patented Magnevane design overcomes all of these constraints by using high-powered neodymium magnets in the core and vanes of the motor to ensure 100% sealing from the first RPM and throughout the life of the vane.

“The differentiator in the design is four specially made neodymium rare-earth magnets installed on each of the seven Vesconite Hilube vanes as well as more stacked and cone-shaped magnets installed in the core rotor. These hold the vanes against the housing all the time and torque is obtained from the first spin for the whole life of the vane – a very rare and significant achievement and completely changes the operating profile of Magnevane motors,” says Magnevane CEO Gareth Rees.

With this design, the company has achieved a 50% to 60% increase in efficiency against the current leading air motors in the market. In addition, since the vanes are always pressed against the housing and Vesconite Hilube is a superior product, the company is achieving a 300% longer maintenance life cycle, with consistent performance attained over this time.

Rees reports that the company investigated bonded vanes but, since these wear out quickly, they reduced the life of the motor by 50% to 70% and Magnevane concluded that Vesconite Hilube is the best performing vane material that it has tried to date. By fitting Vesconite Hilube vanes, the company has two benefits: the motor runs longer with a better wear life and the efficiency of the motor is increased.

Magnevane’s first tooling application to use their patented motors, the chainsaw, has been in development and testing for several years, and has already proved itself in the harsh South African mining environment and is now ready to be introduced to other mining countries, with Portuguese-owned Magnevane expecting to obtain a significant share of the 15,000 unit underground South African chainsaw market within three years.

The company is also developing more end-to-end applications, such as displacement pumps and compressors. Magnevane continues to work with Vesconite Bearings on these applications, including the Hitemp160 polymer that is heat resistant to 160ºC and is a prime candidate for the vane material of the Magnevane displacement pumps.

Besides manufacturing products, the Magnevane sees itself as a research and development company with intellectual property, including its air motors with magnets, which it is prepared to licence to original equipment manufacturers.

“This is the best air motor in the world – with the best vanes,” enthuses Rees, “and will move the dial on pneumatic operating costs across industry”.

 

 

A South Africa-based self-lubricated polymer bearings and bushings manufacturer, Vesconite Bearings, is proud that lost packages are becoming a thing of the past.

This is following the introduction three years ago of shocking pink packaging colours for all its outbound shipments.

Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger had found that parcels were frequently lost after hand-over from the courier company to the airlines.

“It was unbelievable: sometimes shipments weighing tons would just disappear, only to be found months later in an airport warehouse hundreds of thousands of miles away from the original routing,” he says.

Parcels in nondescript brown packaging were typically found later, but after considerable frustration felt by irate customers as well as Vesconite Bearings staff, Leger adds.

With the introduction of bright pink packaging, with diagonally-worded text with website and telephone details, as well as a bullet-point invitation to contact the company for fitting and machining instructions and technical information, lost packaging has become a rare occurrence.

Leger notes that he was advised to choose packaging that stood out from the crowd, and considered pink, since this was a favourite colour of his late mother.

Various people tried to dissuade him of this colour choice, largely because the colour is strongly associated with women, who have traditionally not been a large market for the company.

However, the deeper pink hues of the Vesconite Bearings packaging seem to have resonated well with clientele, perhaps because analysts now suggest that fuchsias and magentas, as well as other deeper pinks, are considered vibrant and youthful, and are also associated with a sense of confidence.

Such seems to have been the thinking of other brands, such as T-Mobile, which has also chosen a similar colour for its brand to help it stand out among other mobile communication providers while adding life and energy.

Vesconite Bearings’ packaging colour seems to have had a similar effect.

The company ships rods, tubes, plates as well as finished items globally, and its packaging comes in various sizes, with a liner, corrugated medium, another liner, another corrugated medium and then a final liner of pink.

“It feels as if my late mother is watching over each package and ensuring that it does not get lost,” says Leger, reinforcing how the colour choice was initially inspired by his mother and is an ongoing tribute to her.

 

 

While most people associate rubber with tyres, ‘carbon black’, which gives automotive tyres their colouring as well as their stiffness, strength and abrasive resistance, is another essential component.

However, particles of carbon black, which need to be dispersed throughout synthetic and natural rubbers when tyres are produced, are notoriously abrasive.

As a result, tyre manufacturers tend to experience difficulties with parts of their manufacturing plant, and especially their bushings, when producing some of the one billion tyres that are manufactured globally.

When one tyre manufacturer in South Africa’s automotive hub of Port Elizabeth experienced these difficulties, it turned to Gahreez Industrial and Plastics founder Gahreez Hammond, who is an important supplier of bearing and polymer wear material to the automotive industry.

Hammond recommended bearing material Vesconite Hilube as a replacement for brass bushings on the presses.

“Vesconite Hilube can handle abrasive applications, is internally lubricated, carries a high load, and does not swell,” he notes.

Having implemented the use of Vesconite Hilube, the tyre manufacturer has been satisfied with the results and has been consistently using Vesconite Hilube in this application for several years.

Other companies in the automotive industry, including OEMs and factories supplying seats, roof liners and other automotive components, have also switched to Vesconite Hilube bushings, informs Hammond.

Some 80% of the companies that he supplies are associated with the heavy-machinery-intensive automotive industry, he notes.

 

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is keeping its customers informed about their orders’ locations.

Vesconite has recently introduced a system whereby Vesconite staff and clients are alerted by email when an order has been dispatched as well as the expected date of delivery. The system also lets customers and staff know whether any unusual event has occurred to increase shipping times and allows customers to view their order delivery status on a tracking page.

 Customer Liaison Co-ordinator Morty Baker notes that the new system has sometimes made Vesconite aware of a problem early and allowed the company to address an issue timeously.

 The system also supports all of the couriers that Vesconite typically uses and can cater for the logistics-information requirements of Vesconite’s many clients who are located in 100 countries globally.

 

 

Vesconite’s high-wear-resistant polymer, known as Ultrablack, was installed as a wear pad on a screw conveyor at a vineyard.

The screw conveyor washes grapes that have been harvested and transports them along the production line for further processing into wine.

Ultrablack ensures that the conveyor blades move smoothly.

Johan Brits, the CEO of plant machinery manufacturing and maintenance company Vino Tech, notes that Ultrablack eliminated wear problems and facilitated blade movement.

“We had a lot of problems with it before but now it runs great,” he says.

 

 

A pump containing three sleeve bearings made from a new bearing material, Hitemp 160 − which can operate to temperatures up to 160°C and is resistant to abrasive material − has been tested in a pump that has received South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) certification.

Vesconite Bearings pump applications specialist Phillip de Villiers informs that the pump as a whole, rather than its novel bearings, were the subject of the testing procedure carried out by the SABS, the institution responsible for the promotion and maintenance of standards within South Africa.

He is pleased that the pump has been proved to operate well under the conditions specified.

The pump is part of a range of large vertical spindle suction pumps that are to be primarily used in the mining industry.

Because of its new design, its importance in the mines that will use it, and the quality-assurance requirements of the manufacturer and purchaser, certification that the pump was safe and fit for purpose was imperative.

“The pump manufacturer tested and later included our proprietary Hitemp 160 material, which has excellent abrasive properties, negligible water swell and allows the pump to run dry periodically,” states De Villiers.

“Having a material that could aid in the pump’s need to run dry occasionally for short periods of time was a priority, and our material could serve that need in this specific application,” he says.

The new material fills a gap in the market for high-temperature bearings that are able to operate to 160°C in immersed conditions.

 

 

Bearing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has placed renewed emphasis on the earthmoving industry with the appointment of Lorraine Deans as industry champion.

Deans has a background in customer service, as well as research in construction.

It is this latter experience, compiling construction project information for a subcontractor bulletin, that particularly drew her to her current role.

“I found out about new projects before construction began,” informs Deans of her previous position.

“This was particularly useful for civil engineers, quantity surveyors and other service providers who wanted to know about projects in the planning phase,” she says.

When Vesconite’s front-line work was streamlined, Deans was asked which industry she had a passion for. The answer was obvious – after years of work in the building and construction, she was keen to return to a familiar industry.

Vesconite’s no-swell wear-resistant self-lubricating bearings, that were developed for the notoriously harsh deep-level South African gold mines, which are characterised by extreme dirt and wet, are also suited to earthmoving, she reasoned.

“Vesconite has an enduring long-life, offers reduced maintenance, reduced shaft wear and is suitable for wet and abrasive environments,” notes Deans.

“It is also particularly valued for its self-greasing ability which provides clients with valuable savings on labour and greasing costs,” she says.

Since her appointment in earthmoving, Deans has introduced herself to present and prospective clients, has become familiar with many of their pain points, and has provided prototypes for some of their most difficult applications.

“We have seen a lot of interest in plain bearings that can be used in suspension systems, oscillating joints and pivot points,” notes Deans.

While testing can take between three and six months, she believes that articulated dump trucks, front loaders, back hoe loaders and grabbers have high potential as applications in which Vesconite will bring considerable savings.

 

 

Polymer bearing material producer Vesconite Bearings intends to take advantage of South Africa’s high levels of solar radiation to power some of its most power-hungry processes.

The company has already installed the first phase of its solar project, comprising 14 strings of 18 x 350 W Canadian solar panels and a 66 kW Schneider Electric inverter.

The system produces 65 kWh at peak, with the inverter supplying 60 kW to the factory’s Extrusion Department, which makes its proprietary Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube wear-resistant self-lubricating hollow bars and rods.

Vesconite Solar Graph
A typical daily energy production and usage graph.

As such, three quarter of the department’s electricity needs of 80kW/h, are provided for during peak sunlight hours, with a smaller proportion of the department’s electricity needs being catered for from dawn and after 12 noon.

“This is a 60 kW on-demand grid-tied system,” explains Extrusion Head Marius Du Plooy.

“This means that the inverter is synchronised with the municipality’s supply and we use what we produce during day time,” he notes.

Unfortunately, the municipality in which Vesconite Bearings is located does not allow energy producers to sell excess power back to it.

It is not yet cost effective to use storage batteries, so the full energy-production-capacity of the solar system is not harnessed and the company is investigating how to expand the usage of the system.

Vesconite’s CEO, Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, is pleased that the company has been able to harness the power of the sun for its extrusion processes and will soon have “Produced by Solar Power” stickers printed for the company’s extrusions produced during the “solar shift”.

Extruders tend to be power intensive since energy is needed for the barrel heaters that melt the polymers; the screw drives that propel the polymer material through the extruders; and the digital control systems.

However, the location of the company in sunny South Africa, with more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year and solar-radiation levels of between 4.5 and 6.5 kWh/m2 per day is a clear benefit.

“This is one thing that small businesses can do to save money, make themselves less reliant on State-provided electricity, and reduce their impact on the environment,” says Leger.

 

 

A custom farm implement designer will recommend Vesconite for all the bushings on a ripper / cultivator that he is currently designing, in line with a belief in Vesconite’s no-swell self-lubricating wear-resistant characteristics that have led to him using the bearing material on all of his agricultural equipment.

Designer and innovator Kobus van Zyl, of Verbo Engineering, says that Vesconite will be specified for 30 hinge points on the ripper and eight 70 mm diameter bearings on the ripper’s rollers.

He will be making five rippers for a farmer in Marquard, in South Africa, and all of the rippers will have Vesconite installed, he informs.

The farmer who has commissioned the rippers wanted equipment that spanned 8 meters, could attach to his large tractors, use existing tynes that he had in stock, and be effective in preparing and harvesting fields of maize, sunflower and soya.

The 8 meter span of the ripper was of particular importance since this will result in considerable fuel savings. The new design will replace an existing 6.4 meter wide implement and thus cover a larger tract of land as it moves across the farm.

This is much more cost effective since less fuel is required.

Van Zyl notes that he is finalising the design for the ripper and then will order the necessary components.

He will order the metal work from a local laser cutter and will order the precision machined bushings from Vesconite Bearings since he is impressed by the quality of the company’s machining.

Van Zyl expects to start assembling the ripper in January 2021 and to complete one machine each month.

The commissioning farmer is likely to use the machines to prepare for planting and then for harvesting maize and soya in June and July 2021.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube bushings, which were installed on the control arm linkages on the radial deep sluice gates on a hydropower dam on the Nile River, are still operating some seven years after a complete overhaul of the systems controlling water flow in 2013.

A company representative reports that the sourcing and specifying of components, including the no-swell self-greasing high-load-bearing bushings, were part of the turnkey scope of work performed by the company, which was responsible for all electrical, mechanical and hydraulic aspects of the project.

The engineering company ordered four metres of 250 mm (outer diameter) and 190 mm (inner diameter) Vesconite Hilube hollow bar as well as two metres of 225 mm (outer diameter) and 170 mm (inner diameter) hollow bar in October 2012.

The engineering firm and its contractor then machined the bushings to the required size before dispatching the bushings, together with the other components and equipment required for the dam gates, to the Nile River project.

Eight bushings were installed on five 9.5-meter control arm linkages that link hydraulic cylinders to dam gates that are used to control the water flow along this part of the Nile River.

They had to carry 80 tons per arm but, since a safety factor of two was required, it was specified that each bushing had to be designed for 160 tons.

The contract was completed in two years from signing, including one year allocated to manufacturing and one month allocated for the installation of the five gates, including the bushings.

The company explained that the linkage arms connect the sluice gates to the hydraulic cylinder.

The sluice gates can be lowered or raised with the water on the Nile to allow for optimal water volumes in the dam, which would otherwise risk being breached if the flood waters were not controlled sufficiently.

The project manager had intended to visit the installation in 2020 to inspect the gates and the bushings, with a site cover on each bushing removed during the inspection.

The project manager is satisfied with the relatively-maintenance-free solution with a high degree of redundancy that his company was able to provide the country authorities.

This large-scale project involved the installation of 275t of equipment, the co-ordination of suppliers from various countries, and challenging climatic and logistic constraints.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the polymer bearing material Vesconite Hilube, which is used as an ivory substitute, continues to promote this use among ivory users, including knife makers who are interested in an ivory alternative.

Vesconite Bearings’ own Extrusion Department Head, Marius du Plooy, is an amateur knife maker who recently made a fixed-blade knife with a Vesconite Hilube handle.

He chose the ivory substitute because of its glossiness and its whitish, ivory hue.

“The full tang blade (unsharpened, unexposed part of the blade that extends down the handle) is made from Austrian Bohler N690 knife steel,” explains Du Plooy.

“316 stainless steel is used for the bolsters (thick junction between the knife and the handle) and pins,” he says.

However, what makes the knife unique is that the handle scales are made from Vesconite Hilube with a red liner between the handle scales and the tang.

Du Plooy notes that, during the knife-making process, the blade is the most difficult to make.

The Vesconite Hilube handle is easy to machine, but takes some time to polish since this requires sanding with 1,200 grit water paper followed by buffing with a cotton-cloth buffing wheel and buff soap, he says.

“The finished product is worth the effort,” Du Plooy enthuses.

Vesconite is keen on other knife makers and users of ivory to adopt this synthetic ivory substitute especially as Covid-19 restrictions are easing in many parts of the world and, with this, the likely availability of illegally-sourced elephant ivory.

Road blocks, with police and defence forces policing them, had forced poachers to abandon travel with axes, pangas, stolen hunting rifles and home-made silencers used in poaching.

Similarly, the closure of international borders cut off sales channels, while the closure of game parks limited access by poachers to parks via the gates during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions in Africa.

Vesconite believes that Vesconite Hilube may be one way to reduce demand for ivory.

The material is pleasant, smooth, warm to the touch and hard wearing.

It is also available in a wide range of rods, hollow bar and plate sizes.

Vesconite hopes that its product will assist Africa’s wildlife to make it to 2021 and beyond.

 

 

Equipment from as far as the Congo, Namibia and Zambia is being sent to a South African CNC and lathe-repair company to have machines dismantled, cleaned, machining beds ground and scraped smooth, and the wear pads between the saddle and the machining bed replaced with a wear-resistant polymer known as Vesconite Hilube.

Second-hand conventional lathes are sometimes preferred to new lathes in Africa, because of the high quality of workmanship on the castings, which can last longer as they are well made and less likely to be damaged even with robust handling.

However, since these may require some care before they work optimally, they are sometimes sent for reconditioning to Atlantic Enterprises, run by machine tooling expert Henning Von Marschall.

Similarly, even where companies have opted for CNC machines, machine repairs may be more cost-effective than purchasing new CNC machines when the beds and wear pads are damaged.

As a result, CNC owners also revert to Atlantic Enterprises, where they have CNC machines that do not run on linear bearings.

Von Marschall was trained in Germany and has worked for global machine tool companies, including in Japan and Taiwan, so reconditioning of lathes and CNC machines is carried out to precision.

Vesconite Hilube wear pads, made from a thermopolymer developed in the 1980s, are an added feature that sets his reconditioning business apart.

While the exact details are proprietary, Von Marschall reveals that the OEM wear pads are first removed and the saddle surfaces cleaned and scraped of all debris.

The 2 or 3 mm thick Vesconite Hilube plates, that are bought in 1,000 mm lengths, are then cut to size and oil grooves ground into the plate with a lathe.

The plate is then cleaned and glued to the saddle with a slow-setting glue.

Von Marschall reports that Vesconite Hilube wear pads have several advantages over traditional materials used in the application: the OEM material tends to come off easily since lubrication gets underneath the OEM material and is also absorbed by the material; the OEM material is thinner than the replacement Vesconite Hilube, so it wears through more quickly and does not allow for the deep oil grooves that Von Marschall makes; the OEM material can become dry leading to increased wear; and, with Vesconite Hilube, the slides can be tightened more so the load meter is lower where Vesconite Hilube is used.

Von Marschall stresses the particular importance of having a thicker material into which grooves can be machined and, during reconditioning, will ensure that an adequate space is available for the new wear pads.

Atlantic Enterprises started operation in the 1970s, with Von Marschall taking the helm 14 years ago.

Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped gibs for a vertical boring mill
Refurbishing equipment with Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped wear strips
Webster & Bennett boring mill being fitted with Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped wear strips
Vesconite Hilube hand-scraped wear pads with lubrication grooves in place
Lathe that is due to have Vesconite Hilube wear pads installed
Horizontal lathe that is due for refurbishment

 

 

Bearing and wear part manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has increased its efforts to develop better -than-the-original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) forklift parts.

The company has long known that its gantry support bearings, tilt cylinder bushings, side shift pads, mast pivot bushings, steer axle articulation bushings, king pin bushings and lever and pedal bushings offered low-friction, wear-resistant and high load capacity characteristics. The Vesconite parts last longer than the originals and do not need regular greasing. They are sought after by the forklift rental companies who appreciate the longer wear life and savings achieved from reduced maintenance. 

Since the start of 2020 Vesconite Bearings has invested considerable staffing resources into building a catalogue of parts for all the major forklift brands, and offered prototype testing for these better-than-the-OEM parts.

“We have parts for nine common forklift brands in our catalogue,” says forklift industry champion Calvin Mpofu. With three more team members, Mpofu has identified the most popular brands and parts, and then requested the Vesconite factory produces them.

“This mammoth task is ongoing. As the factory completes each batch, we dispatch to select clients for testing,” he notes.

The global forklift repair and rental industry reports that business has picked up after the Covid induced slow down. While the traditional forklift maintenance cycle may have increased due to reduced forklift operation, forklift usage and forklift maintenance is expected to escalate in the coming months.

“Installation and testing of the Vesconite parts is happening at a faster rate,” says Mpofu, who notes that forklift rental companies that have received prototype parts have already indicated that the material feels more premium and commend the great care taken in the machining of these better-than-the-OEM components.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings’ ship classification certifications continue to span the world, with the team ensuring that the certificates remain up-to-date.

The company’s marine bearings are currently certified by  American Bureau of Shipping (ABS ), Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Japan) (NKK), Bureau Veritas (BV), Lloyds Register (LR), Det Norske Veritas / Germanisher Lloyd (DNV / GL), China Classification Society (CCS) and Registro Italiano Navale (RINA).

Vesconite Bearings has had many of these certifications for decades, and continues to ensure that these remain in place, having recently been re-approved for three certificates by two ship classification authorities.

“The application process is started by contacting the relevant shipping classification authority and enquiring what we need to have in place and what steps are necessary to obtain the specific approval we require,” states Jaco Prinsloo, who is the compliance officer who has been tasked with keeping certifications current.          

“Usually some material tests and a manufacturing facility audit by the specific certification authority is needed to get approved and certified, but every certification authority has different procedures and processes we need to follow to be certified,” he says.

The most recent set of re-approvals of certificates were applied for well before the multi-year certificate validity period lapsed.

This is part of the company’s safety and risk-mitigation commitment to the marine industry since these certificates are required if Vesconite stern tubes and rudder bearings are to be fitted to vessels that call for a specifically-certified product.

Having these certifications also supports the mandates of these premium certification bodies whose mission it is to ensure safer products in the marine industry, in line with best practices, regulatory requirements and the latest design techniques.

 

 

Independent tests by a major pump manufacturer prove corrosion-free Vesconite Hilube wear rings safely allow reduced running clearances and improve pump efficiency.

Bronze casing wear rings with a clearance of 0.3 mm were tested against no-swell Vesconite Hilube at 0.1 mm

Vesconite Hilube vs bronze wear rings

Pump efficiency increased from 80.50 to 82.55%. Pumping head increased from 30.204 to 30.818 m.

Both these measures are important in the pump industry.

Pump efficiency indicates how much of the energy supplied to the pump is converted to pumping fluid. 

Pump head, meanwhile, measures the pressure that the pump produces in terms of the height to which the pump can raise water.

Head is important where the water source is far from the pumping destination and is vital when users want to increase the pump output.

Importantly, catastrophic failures can be avoided with Vesconite Hilube. With metal rings, if there is contact with the impeller, galling and seizures can quickly occur. But if a Vesconite Hilube wear ring contacts an impeller, it acts as a mechanical fuse and machines away safely, keeping the close clearance.

With a simple swop of the wear ring material, more efficient pumps can be achieved through closer clearances, and wear ring corrosion eliminated.

 

 

There is one less thing for hydro engineers to worry about when designing dams.

This is if they choose Vesconite Hilube speciality polymer bearings – which can be fitted and forgotten about for months and even years.

This has been the experience of several engineers working on hydropower projects, including recent ones in North and South Africa.

The one in North Africa involved the installation of control arm linkages on the radial deep sluice gates on a hydropower dam on the Nile River seven years ago, while the one in South Africa, which is nearing completion, involves the use of Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings on the tainter gates at the Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant on the Ash River.

The engineers on both projects were particularly pleased with the fact that the bearings will perform reliably over many decades since they exhibit low creep, i.e. they do not deform under persistent mechanical stress.

The trunnion assembly.

 

The manufacturing of the tainter gates.

 

 

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has undertaken in-house testing and verified that its polymer is unlikely to deform even where significant stress is applied over a long duration.

In a test exposing a predetermined Vesconite Hilube test piece to a 30MPa load over several days, no dimensional change was detected.

It is the no-creep characteristic that is particularly sought after in these hydro applications, since the bearings are fully statically loaded because of the significant water load that constitutes a large applied stress.

Vesconite Bearings engineer Juan Van Wyk notes that sleeve bearings that are manufactured from speciality no-creep polymers such as Vesconite Hilube outperform traditional roller bearings, for instance, since these are prone to brinelling or permanent indentation of the roller balls into the race of the bearing.

While Vesconite Hilube bearings remain dimensionally stable under high load, roller bearings can be problematic.

Another attractive feature of Vesconite Hilube bearings in hydroelectric applications is that they are swell resistant, since the speciality engineered polymer that they are made from exhibits a confirmed negligible 0.13% mass change after 28 days of being fully immersed. Vesconite also doesn’t soften under these saturated conditions; hence, its resistance to creep

This means that, where other materials may swell to the point where they do not allow for oscillation where this is required, Vesconite Hilube will reliably hold its shape and, in turn, its small clearances and allow oscillation when this is needed.

For Wicus Bonnet of Eigenbau, the contracting firm that is responsible for the hydro-civil, hydro-mechanical and power-house facilities at the South African project, this was ideal.

“The radial arm sluice gates that will be installed at Kruisvallei, and the associated trunnion bearings, which are located at the pivot point that allows for the movement of the gates to release or stop water flow, are a vital part of the project,” he says.

“They will be open most of the time – about 90% of the year,” he reveals of the gates, which comprise two intake, two tailrace and two emergency gates – one of each per plant.

However, operating flow of 37m3/s must be stopped and released during maintenance and emergency shutdowns, which is likely to take place between four and six times a year.

In addition, flow may also need to be stopped to protect against 1 in 200 year flooding and safeguard the hydro electro-mechanical equipment that could be damaged in such a situation.

Similarly, for the North African project, some eight bushes were installed on five 9.5m control arm linkages that link hydraulic cylinders to dam gates that are used to control the water flow along this part of the Nile River.

These were important since the linkage arms connect the sluice gate to the hydraulic cylinder and allow the gates to be lowered or raised with the water on the Nile to allow for optimal water volumes in the dam, which would otherwise risk being breached if the flood waters were not controlled sufficiently.

Besides low-creep and no-swell, other advantages of Vesconite Hilube bearings in hydroelectric applications are that they can be manufactured to any dimensions, which makes designing easier; they have a high load-bearing strength, so there may be a cost saving on bearing design since bearings can be made more compact while withstanding the force of the water; they have a low coefficient of friction, which minimises the forces on the structure during operation; and they are self lubricating, so they will not seize despite being stationary for long periods.

Van Wyk notes that Vesconite Hilube is ideal for high-load slow-speed applications, and it has been found suitable in hundreds of applications in various industries, including the agriculture, earthmoving, automotive, renewable energy and mining industries, among others.

In these industries, it is not uncommon to have slow rotational or oscillating movement every few minutes, days or weeks.

However, what is fairly unusual in the hydro-electric industry is that movement is so limited, and that oscillating movement may only be required half a dozen times a year, if that.

What is also unusual is the sheer magnitude of the force on the bearing, with the Nile River project calculating that each control arm had to carry 80t per arm and, with a safety factor of two worked in, the design engineer specified that each bearing needed to carry 160t.

 

 

Daggerboards, once used only by the dinghy racing fraternity, are increasingly common in cruising boats.

This is the insight of Travis McGarry, captain of the 66 foot, 22 ton Gunboat catamaran the Slim, an early convert to use Vesconite daggerboard bearings  – the bearings which support these retractable daggerboards, and which, in this case, have been designed by Thorne Design Ltd.

McGarry describes how racing yacht technology is eventually adopted in cruising boats.

Sailing enthusiasts, for instance, became familiar with daggerboards in the America’s Cup, where they were occasionally visible as competitors skimmed over the water at tremendous speeds.

Thereafter, for performance catamarans such as Gunboats, where cruising comfort combines with a racing pedigree, the adoption of foils was a simple decision.

McGarry notes many traditional cruising boats can reach 10 to 15 knots, but a carbon-fibre performance yacht kitted with daggerboard foils, such as the Slim, easily reaches 20 knots and even top speeds of 30 knots (55 km/h).

Where time is valuable, and most people only take a few weeks leave for sailing, a performance cruiser covers longer distances and allows hobbyists to experience more, which is a great advantage.

In addition, a faster cruiser is a safety imperative. It allows sailors to leave behind a storm: they can set out within a day with the knowledge that the next storm, which in most regions follows after at least three days, will not catch up with them.

The application of Vesconite daggerboard bearings has gone hand-in-glove with the use of daggerboards in many cruising yachts, just as they have among many in the racing circles.

McGarry, who fashioned his first daggerboard bearings out of Vesconite plates with a 5-axis CNC milling machine, reveals that Vesconite does not swell so the bearings can be machined with very tight clearances.

The wear-resistant material has a low coefficient of friction for easy lowering and retraction of the daggerboards.

In addition, Vesconite is able to withstand high loads, an important feature when all the load of a 22 ton cruiser, hurtling through the sea at 20 to 30 knots, is placed on the two daggerboard bearings.

McGarry notes that last year The Slim replaced its daggerboard bearings after eight years in operation – once again with Vesconite.

“There was zero wear when we replaced them,” he says. The decision to replace was based on a rushed first installation in which the original bearings were noisy and crudely finished by hand.

“The cruiser has only had Vesconite daggerboard bearings and we have had great experiences with them.” He notes the new bearings operate noiselessly and smoothly.

With its new bearings in place, the Slim will be chartered for winter cruising in the Caribbean Virgin Islands, Caribbean Leewards and Caribbean Windwards and for summer cruising in the South Pacific and French Polynesia.

Launched in 2012, this performance cruiser can clear between 150 to 300 miles (250 to 500 km) per day.

 

 

Moves away from bronze and rubber bearings have boosted the profile and sales of polymer products such as Vesconite. Although many are now discovering the benefits of Vesconite, many more have known of their advantages for years. Vesconite lasts longer, wears less, requires less maintenance and doesn’t require lubrication, making it suitable for different applications, in different industries in different continents.

Take the US.

“A state like California has banned lead so you cannot sell a bronze product. People have to find an alternative,” says Vesconite Bearings’ technical representative, Charlie Simpson.

“We are getting more and more business as people move away from bronze and rubber bearings.”

Simpson says Vesconite has seen steady growth in sales from the US over the last two years. Some of this is due to the need for an alternative product; much is due to the benefits of Vesconite, such as increased efficiency.

Simpson says the companies in the US are willing to test and try new things. “If they can get five percent more efficiency they will go for it.”

Because Vesconite doesn’t need lubrication, bearings last longer. That means less downtime, less maintenance and fewer stoppages. The end result is increased efficiency.

Which is something Eric Bruggeman has known for years. Before he moved to head up the South African Capital Equipment Export Council, Bruggeman was MD of APE Pumps. Based in South Africa, APE Pumps supplies pumps to projects around the globe including countries such as Zambia, Iraq and South Africa.

Efficiency was a problem for Bruggeman, who tried different types of bushings before being introduced to Vesconite.

“As soon as there was sand in a pump with metal bearings it would stick,” Bruggeman says.

“We used rubber bushings, but they didn’t work.”

And this was after trials in a test environment, which Bruggeman says will give results that may not be the same in real life applications.

“You can test something on the rig and get certain efficiencies. Put it in the plant and two days later efficiency is different. There’s sand and grit, they block up grooves, the bearings burn.”

So a pump would last three to four months.

“It was a nightmare.”

Bruggeman was introduced to Vesconite in the late 1990s when a representative walked into his office.

“Our own mechanical seals were brittle – the bearings were thin and were cracking. Vesconite was unbelievably tough. You could drop it and put it back in the pump,” he says.

“Stainless steel would wear down, and have to be replaced. That didn’t happen with Vesconite.”

“We moved to Vesconite.”

Bruggeman was so impressed with the material he replaced every bushing he could with Vesconite.

“The pump would just run and run and we didn’t need to bother with grease or anything. When the strainer was blocked the Vesconite bearings stayed.”

Bruggeman also went to the extreme of putting fine glass, “glass eats anything”, in the pump to see what the wear and tear on the bearing would be.

“Vesconite proved itself.”

Using standard Vesconite increased the working life of the pumps considerably.

Bruggeman became a huge supporter of Vesconite.

“It was more expensive than bronze but if you look at overall performance there was no downtime and maintenance. Even in Richard’s Bay harbour with salt water. So it was worth it,” he says.

“Lots of people knew our pumps weren’t the cheapest but they lasted the longest.”

Bruggeman used the standard Vesconite bearings in pumps. Today Vesconite Hilube is also available and offers even less wear and tear and lower friction.

Used in the automotive, marine, mining, water, irrigation, steel, agriculture and railway industries, Vesconite has proved itself in tough conditions. Although pump bearings are not its only application, the bearing has shown itself to be unbeatable across continents.

 

 

Polymer bushing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has taken delivery of a Haas gantry router with a 3,200-mm bed.

“This will be a busy addition to the company’s machining capability,” says production manager Robin Crabb.

The router will allow the company to machine parts on its substantial x-y axis, and rout out integral parts from long-length plates.

“There are exceptionally long bearings that we machine and bend and this will save time and improve the quality of machining,” notes Crabb of the router, which will eliminate the need to shift plates and connect portions of work on shorter-bed machines.

Since delivery of the equipment, Vesconite Bearings has been preparing to commission the router: the company has designed and fitted a bespoke vacuum bed to suck plates down while machining. Staff have also completed tool training by the OEM manufacturer.

“This extends our capability,” says Crabb.

“There is a call from our customers for large precision machined plates. We have a large number of orders that can benefit from being machined on a long bed.”

Crabb notes that the router has been upgraded to incorporate a fast spindle that will bring down machining times, in line with the company’s commitment to quick despatch times.

It also has tool and work probes that will allow it to automatically and continuously check part dimensions.

 

 

Wear-plate client requirements have resulted in the production of 1 m x 1 m Vesconite Hilube polymer wear plates, which can measure 25 mm and, more recently, 40 mm in thickness.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Eddie Swanepoel, who has been instrumental in translating client requirements into new extruded plate sizes of the low-coefficient-of-friction, high-wear polymer that is in demand in various wear applications.

Swanepoel reveals that the 1 m x 1 m plate was introduced when a client required a round wear plate to fit his rotary vacuum filter.

This led to the introduction of the 25-mm-thick plate of that size, which has been performing well in the application for more than a year.

Client applications have been the driver for new materials and plate sizes, and Vesconite Bearings’ factory has responded by developing methodologies for producing larger and larger stock sizes.

Vesconite Hilube plates are also stocked in 200 mm x 1 m sizes, with thicknesses of 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 and 75 mm, in addition to 600 mm x 1 m sizes, with thicknesses of 10, 16, 25 and 40 mm.

 

 

A large food-processing company in South Africa is replacing several of the polyethylene plates on its rotary vacuum filters with plates made of the low-friction, high-compressive strength polymer known as Vesconite Hilube.

This follows the successful use of the Vesconite Hilube plates on one of its rotary vacuum filters.

Rotary vacuum filters are used for dewatering, washing and clarification, and rely on a vacuum to suck the water content out of a slurry mixture in which a vacuum drum rotates. After dewatering is completed, a dry cake remains on a cloth-covered drum, while the clarified liquid in the drum is transported out of the drum through a series of pipes.

Vesconite Hilube wear plates have been successfully used at the interface between the vacuum drum and the exiting pipes at the South African company.

The processor’s mechanical department maintenance coordinator informs that the 800-millimetre-diameter 25-millimetre-thick Vesconite Hilube plates need to ensure that there is an adequate seal that prevents the liquid from leaking.

They also need to have sufficient compressive strength to be secured by a trunnion plate, he says, noting that the equipment agent’s wear plates were of a much softer material and that this resulted in wear and eventual leaking.

In addition, they need to have the correct pipe exiting alignment, with 16 holes in place for some of the rotary vacuum drum designs and 14 for other of the designs.

Testing continues to verify the comparative wear life of the polyethylene wear plates and their replacement Vesconite Hilube wear plates.

The processing company’s maintenance coordinator reports that the Vesconite Hilube plates have outlasted the polyethylene plates, but the exact wear life of both the polyethylene and Vesconite Hilube plates is unknown.

Several variables can change the life expectancy of a plate including the installation personnel, alignment between the drum and the plate, and any drum vibration.

The intention with the Vesconite Hilube plate installation is to keep the drum vacuum constant and reduce machine down time that is caused by having to replace plates.

The food-processing company has nine rotary vacuum filters on site.

The company processes 800 tons per year of maize, and produces dry milled starch and various grades of glucose for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, as well as byproducts for the animal feed industry, among various other industries.

 

 

Test-work on Vesconite polymer sliding wear plates has shown promising results on a crawler drill that is employed at a zinc project, in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

The wear plates were installed on the rotary head slide of a drill that carries out exploration drilling at the mine that is to exploit one of the largest zinc orebodies in the world.

The rotary head moves the drill into the ground for deeper and shallower drilling. It also moves to allow the drill to be changed.

Since the rotary head moves approximately 120 times a day, wear on the slides was considerable, and the original-equipment-manufacturer’s (OEM’s) nylon wear pads only lasted 500 hours.

As a result, the OEM crawler drill supplier involved in the zinc project sought a solution to extend the life of its wear pads and investigated other more wear-resistant materials that could cope with highly-abrasive materials such as chrome and silica that come in contact with the pads.

Vesconite Bearings technical representative Phillip de Villiers recommended the use of Vesconite in the application to improve the total wear life of the slides.

The OEM equipment supplier reports that the Vesconite polymer wear plates have lasted more than two time as long as the OEM nylon wear pads with more than 1300 hours of operation to date.

They will continue to be used and the wear life will be closely monitored in comparison with the nylon OEM parts.

The wear life will be proved on the 10 wear plate assemblies comprising 20 separate wear plates on the crawler drill.

On a separate application on the crawler drill, Vesconite wear plates have also been employed on the boom slide.

This is the rear part of the crawler drill, is moved and adjusted to the drilling height, and provides stability to the drill.

This boom moves roughly six times a day, so the wear is not as considerable as that on the rotary head slide.

However, with the previously-installed OEM nylon slides lasting 1000 hours on this application, there was still a need to improve the lifespan of these slides.

The OEM equipment supplier hopes that the Vesconite will last much longer than the 1000 hours of the OEM material.

With low wear on the six Vesconite assemblies, comprising 12 wear plate halves, early indications are that the Vesconite will also perform well in this application.

The equipment supplier imports crawler drills from Korea for resale, and also supplies parts for these and other drills that are used in mining-exploration drilling and borehole water drilling.

 

 

Mineral processing equipment manufacturer and designer MechProTech has introduced hydrodynamic composite bearings made out of Vesconite thermopolymer plates that are bent into a half moon or quarter moon shape.

These are used on the mills (which are used for the fine grinding of mineral ore) and scrubbers (which are used for the washing and dispersion of clays and agglomerated material, made up of fines and superfines) that it designs and manufactures.

The bearings run on an oil film so there is no surface contact between the bearing and the outside support for the mills and the scrubbers, and, as a result, there is no energy-consuming and grinding friction during operation, states MechProTech Sales Manager Wynand Boshoff.

“Vesconite is a sacrificial bearing that provides support. If the oil that the bearing runs on breaks down, there is no damage to our equipment,” he says of the benefit of not damaging the more-costly capital equipment processing machinery.

The advantages of using Vesconite are not limited to technological ones and also include cost, operational and logistic benefits.

MechProTech notes that the Vesconite hydrodynamic bearings are less costly in this application than white metal bearings, which can be six times more expensive than the thermopolymer bearings.

The bearings are also hard wearing and grease free so they require little maintenance in an industry in which machinery downtime can be costly.

In addition, they are lighter and more maintenance friendly than the white-metal bearings that they replaced and can be more quickly and easily replaced, comments MechProTech MD Evan Bird.

Vesconite Bearings is proud to be associated with innovative milling and scrubber technology that is set to revolutionise the global cash-strapped mining sector.

Using mechanical and metallurgical skills, MechProTech has developed new machinery and methodologies for optimally extracting mineral wealth from ores, while providing process solutions that reduce the capital and maintenance cost for the operator.

 

 

A bottling plant achieved over 10 times the life of forklift side-shift pads by switching to self-lubricating wear-resistant Vesconite Hilube.

These hard working pads allow the side-shift attachment (which carries the forks) to move left and right freely, for quick and accurate loading.

The forklifts’ original side-shift pads were quickly bitten into by the 2 ton loads that these double-pallet forklifts handle.

Vesconite Bearings solved the problem by supplying high-load pads which do not require greasing yet give exceptionally long wear life. 

 

 

While many have historically praised rubber and nitrile rubber marine bearings, Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the no-swell Vesconite Hilube polymer, has seen ship repairers increasingly turn to its product.

Such was the case in June, when one New Zealand repairer, who has traditionally only used rubber bearings, requested Vesconite Hilube for two sailing yachts.

The client requested two propeller shaft bearings for the first, and a single bearing for the second, informs Vesconite Bearings’ Eddie Swanepoel.

Sized for 1¾ ” and 1½ ” shafts, they form part of Vesconite’s ready-to-fit range, which includes 170  ready-to-fit-sizes in imperial and metric sizes, he says.

Long-life Vesconite Hilube has several advantages over its rubber counterparts, which typically include a rubber insert with a naval brass or phenolic outer shell.

The first is its price, since typically they are considerably cheaper than rubber bearings.

The second is its lack of noise, since it exhibits no squeal at low speed, a benefit particularly appreciated by trolling fishermen.

Clients have also commented that it lasts longer, with one client reporting that the material has lasted five years longer and another reporting a ten-year longer life.

In addition, many are favourably impressed by Vesconite’s ease of installation and removal. This is because, while rubber bearings may need to have their brass outer shells cut and bent inwards to remove them, Vesconite Hilube can be easily removed with a bearing puller.

“Removing a rubber bearing with a brass shell can take two hours to half a day,” comments Swanepoel.

“Most repairers are set up to do this, but enjoy the time saving and the ease of using Vesconite Hilube,” he says.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings have been used on the Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant’s tainter gates, which are to be installed this year on the Ash River, halfway between Bethlehem and Clarens, in South Africa.

From the side, tainter gates look like a slice of pizza with the curved part facing upstream of the canal and the lower sharply-angled portion pointing downstream of the canal.

The straight sides of the pizza shape are the trunnion arms, which extend downstream to a pivot point around which the gate rotates.

It is at this point of rotation that the Vesconite Hilube bearings are located, and it is this pivot point that allows for the movement of the gates to release or stop water flow.

The manufacturing of the tainter gates.

Wicus Bonnet of Eigenbau, the contracting firm that is responsible for the hydro-civil, hydro-mechanical and power-house facilities, informs that low-maintenance grease-free hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube polymer bearings were used because they offer a longer lifespan than bronze bushings and do not require regular maintenance – a boon since the trunnions are located on a concrete beam suspended over the canal.

“The power plants have minimal staff and this will ease their load,” he says.

Other advantages were that they can be manufactured to any dimensions, which makes designing easier; they have a high load-bearing strength, so there is a cost saving on the trunnion design since it can be made more compact while withstanding the force of the water; they have a low coefficient of friction, which minimises the forces on the structure during operation; they have low creep, which will assist in their being able to remain open or closed for long periods; and they are self lubricating, so they will not seize despite being stationary for long periods.

Bonnet informs that Eigenbau has built six radial-arm sluice gates for the Power Plant, including intake, and emergency and tailrace gates for the Middle and Lower Power Plants as part of its hydro-mechanical works for the power house facilities. These gates range in size from gate face sizes 7 by 4 meters high and trunnion arm radiuses from 6.5 to  8.5 meters in width, to a 4 meter high gate face with a 12 meter trunnion arm radius. They were designed to withstand a head of water ranging from 4.4 to 12.3 meters.

Vesconite Hilube trunnion bearings are to be used on the Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant’s tainter gates.

Eigenbau’s scope of work on the Middle and Lower Kruisvallei Hydro Power Plant project includes the contract for other hydro-mechanical projects, including the trash rake, trash rake flushing and cleaning system, bypass gate and dewatering pumps; the hydro-civil works, which include weirs, spillways, canal intakes, headrace canal, draft tube, the encasement of the turbine components and the tailrace canal; and the power house facilities, including the turbine hall overhead crane, HVAC, water filtration plant and sewage disposal system.

All projects are to be completed within 18 months, with much of the work completed already.

“This project will provide 4 MW of power to the South African power grid,” says Bonnet.

“This will ease the load on Eskom as well as help South Africa to switch to more sustainable, reliable and more environmentally friendly sources of energy.”

The radial arm sluice gates that will be used at Kruisvallei are an important part of the project since they will help stop the flow of water in the canals for maintenance, protect against flooding  (1 in 200 year floods) and safeguard the hydro electro-mechanical equipment.

As these are the first installations, Eigenbau will monitor them and see what maintenance will be required.

“We expect the gates will not operate more than four to six times per year,” says Bonnet.

“Therefore, maintenance will be at 20 year intervals,” he notes of the low-maintenance bearings.

 

 

Vesconite believes that from its greatest challenges come its greatest opportunities.

So says Vesconite Bearings’ CEO, Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who has identified four trends that will affect manufacturing and engineering in the immediate future.

Engaging with customers through video

“With all our sales and support staff working from home to reduce infection risks, we have had to think creatively about how to work and communicate with clients,” says Leger.

A big part of this is motivating clients to engage face-to-face with video. Where clients are open to video, the company has done remote presentations.

“The result is that we have been able to share the latest technical developments exceptionally quickly, something which would have taken a long time previously,” Leger comments.

Ensuring continuous supply and availability

Many companies face supply-chain disruptions with components manufactured in countries badly impacted by Covid. They are also influenced by the disruptions in air and sea freight.

With vulnerable supply chains under the spotlight due to transport and shipping delays, companies are turning towards trusted suppliers that are able to manufacture and despatch quickly.

“Vesconite has benefitted from having warehouses globally, which have been able to supply stock materials where global logistics has been difficult,” says Leger.

“Vesconite Bearings has also been able to take advantage of the need for custom bushing and wear items that it can engineer considerably more quickly than many traditional suppliers’ delivery times,” he notes.

Towards zero maintenance

There is great interest in reducing maintenance through long-life wear parts – more so than ever before. Water utilities, and the companies that service them, among others, are concerned with having field staff exposed to the virus, and are investigating ways to reduce in-field maintenance.

“Fortunately, Vesconite parts fulfil this need, and answer the call for longer life and less maintenance,” he says.

Emphasis on energy efficiency

With the epidemic raging and concerns about finances, Vesconite has found many customers are thinking about the long-term cost-benefits of better solutions, including using our energy-efficient materials in pumps, for instance.

The company’s focus on energy efficiency has become an important source of new applications and new business.

“With concerns about global carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation – which reached 12 gigatons in 2010 – as well as an awareness that pumps account for 10% of global electrical energy use, energy saving improvements are valued by pump manufacturers and users, among other customers,” notes Leger.

Future

“My father started Vesco in 1958, the year I was born,” says Leger, of his long history at the company.

“I grew up hearing stories about bushes – as a child I thought my parents were discussing small trees!”

With insights into manufacturing, in general, and bearings, in specific, spanning many decades, Leger is aware of the constant changes in industry, including the potentially life-threatening and business-destroying concerns caused by the current crisis.

He believes that at least some of the business developments, including to customer relationships, the supply chain, maintenance and energy efficiency, are navigable and transformative. “Carpe diem!” he concludes: “There are opportunities to be seized.”

 

 

Phineas Modiba, Vesconite’s stores trainee, has had an unusual introduction to the company, having started immediately prior to South Africa’s lock-down and having weathered the most restrictive period of the lock-down, when he was forced to stay at home.

Into his fifth month of work at the company, he is currently one of the few staff members on hand in the company’s Johannesburg warehouse, and is attending to customers’ needs, with many companies returning to business in this less-restrictive level-3 South African lock-down period.

Modiba has a background in teaching yoga with Yoga4Alex, a non-profit that offers yoga to  school students in Alexandra, a densely populated and under-serviced area.

Through yoga, he has been able to assist many students with Kundalini-Yoga-related tools that help them cope with stress and anxiety in school and beyond.

As part of the same programme, he tutored school students in reading in Alexandra, and was instrumental in improving the reading level of many primary and high school students.

Modiba had been learning about Vesconite’s polymers as well as the company’s stock of hollow bar, rods, plates and custom machined items prior to lock-down and has resumed his on-site training as South Africa returns to a new normal that requires social distancing and the wearing of masks in public places and at work.

“I am enjoying being a stores trainee,” says Modiba of his new job, “There is a way through every block. Whatever challenges you face, you will overcome them.”

 

 

Vesconite Hilube has been used for decades in a wide range of specialized pump bearing applications.

The material thrives in water, keeping to machined sizes without swelling and with zero delamination.

Other advantages are that it does not corrode, and helps prevent the corrosion between metal components especially in salt water; is resistant to oils and fuels; and is easy to machine, fit and remove – and prolongs shaft life.

In addition, it allows dry startup for up to 1 minute.

Vesconite Hilube is recommended for most pump bearing applications, such as: 

  • Vertical turbine pumps:
    Casing wear rings, top stuffing box bearings, lineshaft / spider bearings, bowl bearings and inlet bearings.

  • Vertical spindle pumps (sump pumps):
    Casing wear rings, lineshaft / spider bearings and inlet bearings.

  • Mixed flow pumps:
    Casing wear rings, lineshaft / spider bearings and inlet bearings.

  • Multi-stage surface pumps:
    Neck ring liners and diffuser bearings.

  • Submersible pumps:
    Neck ring liners, casing wear rings and diffuser bearings.

  • Split-case and centrifugal pumps:
    Casing wear rings and water flingers / deflectors.

  • Diaphragm pumps:
    Valve spools.

  • Gear pumps:
    Support bearings (external and internal).

  • Rotary vacuum vane pumps / exhausters:
    Vanes.

 

 

Condensate pumps can get very hot. They are used in industrial steam systems to collect and return steam to a boiler for reuse.

This is why when a large energy company in Africa required lineshaft and bowl bearings for condensate pumps at its 4,000 MW power station it turned to Hitemp 150, an engineered polymer produced by Vesconite Bearings, that can survive temperatures up to 150°C (300°F).

The condensate pumps in question reach temperatures of 110°C (230°F), so the contractor to the power producer is satisfied that the pumps will last and that the bearings will not melt, as would be the case with many other polymers.

An order for machined items and stock hollow bar was dispatched in June 2020 and the machined items were due to be installed soon after receipt.

The remaining stock items are to be machined by the contractor and were to be installed soon after the initial installation.

Vesconite Bearings pump expert Charlie Simpson estimates that the large order will be used in four pumps each measuring about 10 meters in length.

The company dispatched three different bearings sizes for shaft diameters of 50 mm (2″) as well as three different sizes of stock hollow bar, weighing 90kg in total.

“Hitemp 150 is an ideal material for pumps in temperature-challenging environments,” says Simpson.

The polymer, which is typically red in colour, has a short-term temperature limit of 170°C (340°F), a temperature rating of 150°C (300°F), and a resistance to hot water and steam of up to 120°C (250°F).

 

 

Vesconite Bearings New Zealand representative Eddie Swanepoel will be visiting South Island from 22 June to 26 June, following the opening of New Zealand to domestic travel.

Swanepoel is based In Tauranga, New Zealand, and hasn’t been able to travel because of restrictions on domestic travel. But since June 9, there are no restrictions on daily life, business activities, gatherings and public transportation, although the country remains closed to most international travel.

Swanepoel reports that “New Zealand is ready for business” and firms are keen to see him, despite many catching up order backlogs due to the lockdown. He intends to visit forklift fleet owners, abattoirs and hydro-electric companies while on South Island.

Vesconite Bearings embarked on a concerted customer-relations programme in the weeks prior to Swanepoel’s visit and has been actively promoting its no-grease wear-resistant bearings to New Zealand’s industries.

It has seen quote and order inquiries pick up over the last few weeks, and is encouraged that there were no new Covid-19 cases or deaths in New Zealand at the time of writing.

“The lockdown had an adverse effect on many businesses. Some were forced to close,” says Swanepoel.

“However, I am encouraged by my clients and their positive responses to proposals to discuss applications and materials,” he notes.

Swanepoel can be contacted at vesconite@vesconite.com or on +64 (20) 4011 3659

 

 

A Vesconite rudder bushing has been an important part of the step-by-step dismantling, parts procurement and reassembly of the rudder of a 30ft Jeanneau Arcadia sailing yacht known as the Ghaaata.

When an annual maintenance inspection revealed significant rudder play caused by the internal structure, Jeanneau Arcadia sailing yacht owner Jorge Veiga embarked on a full rudder replacement, including everything from the pins, bolts and bushings, through to the actual rudder.

For the rudder bushings he chose Vesconite Hilube, since he had read good references and the technical data sheet presented beneficial characteristics, including its excellent reputation for self-lubrication and ability to maintain shape, under load, while submerged in salt water.

“I contacted Vesconite, asking where I could have the bushing manufactured here in Norway,” describes Veiga.

“It turned out that Vesconite provides a full machining service from their factory in South Africa, with quick global distribution. The entire process worked fantastically well. Vesconite provided answers almost immediately, were always available and personally informed me of the progress and tracked the shipment, right up until it arrived in Norway.”

“I have no hesitation to endorse Vesconite,” enthuses Veiga.

The Ghaaata returned to its marina port in Kambo, Norway, on April 6, 2020, as planned.

Veiga reveals that the Ghaaata has been extensively tested in all conditions and her performance is exceeding expectations.

The project has been deemed to be a success: the lower bushing’s play was eliminated, says Veiga.

“The bushing has been subjected to very high forces when I was caught in a nasty squall with full sails up the other day (my fault) and it has held as expected.”

The Ghaaata can be typically  found cruising around the Olso fjord and Skagerrak, a strait between the south-east cost of Norway, the west coast of Sweden and the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark. The yacht faces moderate waves and variable winds, with gusts stressing the rigging and steering.

Around half of the time, Veiga is the sole occupant, with two crew members operating the yacht at other times.

 

 

Polymer bushing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings has installed two Haas lathes with bar feeders for large-volume bushing production.

Demand for long production runs is increasing and the new lathes allow the manufacturer to produce 20,000 to 70,000 bushings at a time.

There is a definite need for this equipment, says production manager Robin Crabb, who would have previously required several machines with operators to manufacture such large orders.

With the bar feeders, 30 bars with diameters of up to 20 mm, or a smaller numbers of bars with larger diameters, can be automatically fed into the machines.

This allows for continuous operation.

The machines are fitted with work and tool probes so part checking is also carried out automatically and continuously.

“We have three sizeable orders on hand for large customers,” reports Crabb of the need for the lathes.

Winning orders involving large bushing quantities will assist the company achieve its stated goal of growing the company’s revenue tenfold in ten years, he says.

 

 

We are open for sales and machining for essential services.

From Friday, May 1, we will be able to manufacture and machine for all business categories. 

Please send us your orders and inquiries, so that we can machine and despatch as quickly as possible.

Best wishes,

Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
CEO

PS: We also have stock available for immediate despatch from the United States, UK, Netherlands, Singapore, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai.

 

 

Polymer bushing and wear material producer Vesconite Bearings has prototyped a face shield in response to the global call to produce personal protective equipment for emergency medical personnel and nurses.

Some 30 prototype shields, including five with holes, have been sent to a health facility for testing and to verify that the design, which includes a construction helmet and a visor, is valuable and user-friendly.

Hobbyists, globally, are producing various shield components to answer the medical-fraternity call for protection against small infectious Covid-19 respiratory droplets that may be transmitted directly to the eyes, mouth or nose of health-workers.

The face shields they need are usually made of an “alice band” that surrounds the forehead and to which is attached a face-covering plastic sheet, sometimes made from glycolized polyester (PETG).

Vesconite Bearings has made some of these 3D-printed “alice bands” and screens.

However, not content with the two and a half hours that it would take to make an individual shield, it investigated whether there was an easier quicker-to-make solution.

Following this, it prototyped a polycarbonate version of the shield, which is attached to a typical mining or construction hard-hat.

“We were able to make 30 shields in two and a half hours,” says Vesconite Bearings Moulding Head of Department Christian Brumloop.

Besides reducing production times, the design prevents droplets from potentially infecting health-workers by landing on their heads, from where droplets could be later transported to the eyes, nose or mouth.

The hats are also riveted and the shields drilled so that they can be fitted together without additional connections; the design is thus complete and does not require a third party to attach the shields to 3D-printer-enthusiast-produced bands.

The company has, furthermore, drilled five hats with holes to determine whether this improves temperature control and reduces the fogging of the visor, elaborates Brumloop.

It is keen on discovering any adverse effects, such as humidity, of including the harder 1mm polycarbonate together with the hard hat, he notes.

“We will beat this as a collective,” says Brumloop of the large number of people who are spending their lockdown printing or manufacturing shields for valued medical personnel who may be exposed to the Coronavirus.

“If you can assist, you do,” he adds of the traditional and prototype designs that have been produced.

 

 

The installation of Vesconite Hilube polymer wear rings can result in electricity savings that more than pay for the wear ring.

This was the result of a study by a large pump original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that compared energy usage on a typical submersible pump when a Vesconite Hilube wear ring was in place and when a bronze wear ring had been installed.

Vesconite Hilube is a low-friction wear-resistant polymer. Wear rings made from the material are designed to seal the pressure leakage of the liquid between the inlet and the impeller and the pump casing, and should result in a higher pumping efficiency due to lower by-pass.

Vesconite Bearing technical pump consultant Phillip de Villiers was, therefore, pleased when the pump OEM’s results independently proved Vesconite Hilube’s ability to improve pumping efficiency and decrease electricity usage.

The study showed a 0.11kW/h energy reduction when operation of the pump with a large diameter bronze wear ring was compared with operation of the same pump type with a dimensionally-identical Vesconite Hilube wear ring.

Assuming the Vesconite Hilube wear ring’s use on an industrial pump, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the electricity savings from installing a Vesconite Hilube wear ring add up, particularly when the pump is operated in a jurisdiction in which electricity charges are high.

In the specific pump that was studied by the OEM, the wear ring would have a three-month payback even where a low electricity cost was assumed, notes De Villiers.

He adds that electricity savings for a five-to-ten stage submersible pump can be significant if the electricity savings of each stage are added together.

With concerns about global CO2 emissions from electricity generation – which reached 12Gt in 2010 – as well as an awareness that pumps account for 10% of global electrical energy consumption, technological interventions are valued by pump manufacturers and pump users.

They are also of interest to state and national governments that are interested in reducing carbon emissions to keep global warming under 1.5°C.

 

 

Polymer bushing and wear material manufacturer Vesconite Bearings is standing by to help manufacture ventilators in case the Coronavirus pandemic spirals.

Last week, the company sent 25,000 emails to customers and contacts throughout the world asking whether any had experience in making ventilators.

With no expertise in this technology but, with 70 CNC lathes and machining centres, and injection-moulding and mould-making departments, and a desire to assist those who may require ventilators, the company received several favourable replies.

Among these are the recommendation that companies come together to produce a current design if a manufacturer makes their drawings available, or licenses them for use over this critical time.

Alternatively, it was proposed to manufacture a traditional design, the Manley Ventilator, which is a simple and robust mechanical device that the company may be able to reverse engineer if it can find a unit in working order.

“If you have ventilator expertise or know a company that does have the expertise, we would like to hear from you,” says CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

The Coronavirus is likely to result in a need for hundreds of thousands of ventilators worldwide: data shows 5-10 % of people infected need to be supported on ventilators for two to three weeks.

“We know nothing about making ventilators, but we can help,” says Leger.

 

 

The Coronavirus is likely to result in a need for hundreds of thousands of ventilators worldwide: data shows 5-10 % of people infected need to be supported on ventilators for two to three weeks.

Our company has extensive machining capability: with our 70 CNC lathes and machining centres, we can manufacture a wide range of mechanical components.

We know nothing about making ventilators, but we can help. If you have ventilator expertise, please fill out this form and join with us so that together we can manufacture the thousands of ventilators that may be needed. If there are any further questions, please email vesconite@vesconite.com

Best wishes

Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
Chief Executive Officer
Vesconite Bearings: no grease bushings and wear plates

PS: In South Africa alone our population is 58 million. If 10% of the population is infected (5.8 million), my estimate (based on Italy with 7% of cases critical) is there may be a need for 400,000 ventilators. 

To listen to a report from “the front line”, here is a New York Times interview with the head of the respiratory unit of an Italian hospital: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/podcasts/the-daily/italy-coronavirus.html

 

 

Can we assist you by delivering directly?

If you order before 10am we will try for: 

  • same-day delivery for central Gauteng;
  • next-day delivery for the rest of Gauteng and Durban; and
  • delivery in two to three working days for the rest of the country.

Delivery is free for orders of  > R1,200 and R100 (+VAT) for orders < R1200.

Regards,
Dr Jean-Patrick Leger
CEO
Vesconite Bearings

P.S. Let us help you save time … receive your order in the comfort of your home or workplace.

 

 

A large beverage producer turned to Vesconite Bearings for a solution when it found that its forklift side-shift pads were not able to cope with the typical 2-t beverage loads that its single double-pallet-handler forklifts carried.

Side-shift pads are located between the forklift attachment and the carriage of the forklift, and allow the user to shift a load for quick and accurate placement by a stationary forklift onto a goods truck.

However, in the case of the beverage company, the originally-installed pads were quickly bitten into by the forklift attachment when moving the heavy beverage-containing pallets.

“The original nylon pads lasted about two weeks until they started being bitten in to, and then we had to use silicon spray,” says the company’s forklift technician.

Since forklifts are an integral part of the company’s business, which relies on efficient materials handling and logistics to supply large volumes of beverages, an intervention was needed.

Vesconite Bearings answered this requirement by supplying load pads in Vesconite Hilube, its proprietary engineered, self-lubricating, wear-resistant polymer.

The bearing and wear material company supplied a modified pad design with smooth dirt-trapping grooves on the load-bearing side, which would allow a smooth side-shift motion on a self-lubricated surface while trapping environmental dirt and debris.

The design was further modified to have two larger fillets on the reverse side where the locating pins protrude from the pad to combat the stress concentration caused by the side-shift movement.

“Since then we haven’t had any problems with them,” informs the beverage company’s forklift technician, who notes that the side-shift pads have shown almost no wear between September 2019 and February 2020 – a more than 1000% improvement to date on the durability experienced in the past.

The beverage company has installed Vesconite Hilube side-shift pads on one operating unit’s factory forklifts and one of its other unit’s forklifts, in South Africa, and will roll out the polymer pads on its other South African distribution-hub forklifts.

The beverage company’s forklift technician notes that the forklifts operate at 80% weight capacity since its forklifts can handle 3-t load. The 2x pallet loads and attachment weigh 2.6 t in total.

The forklifts within the factory operate continuously, while the outside forklifts operate for 12-hour periods, from 6am to 6pm.

They are integral to the company’s supply of assorted beverages to South Africa as well as the broader African continent, to which some South African produced beverages are dispatched.

Since the Vesconite Hilube side-shift pads are working so well, the beverage company is also investigating other parts of the attachment in which grease-free Vesconite Hilube can be used, including the plain bearings on the shaft that extends the forks to create a double-pallet handler.

The company’s forklift technician reveals that the polymer will eliminate the use of grease on the forklifts, which will be desirable in a food-contact environment in which clients, besides wanting excellent quality beverages free of contaminants, also want to receive beverages in clean grease-free packaging from the international beverage company.

 

 

Polymer bearing and wear material distributor Vesconite Rail has employed three additional staff members in line with its intention of growing its share of niche polymer products supplied to the global rail industry.

Lebogang Machethe, Ronnie Mugisha and Graham Wiggill were appointed earlier this year, and have backgrounds in chemical engineering, electrical engineering and information and computer technology.

It is believed that the additional appointees will allow for increased contact with clients as well as additional marketing and promotional activities aimed at the rail sector, where Vesconite Rail has had considerable success with supplying side-bearer guides, bogie support pads, pedestal liners, centre liners, cross-anchor bushings, brake beam guides and hopper door bushings, among many other wear components.

The diverse range of staff skills will also prove invaluable in the multi-faceted railway engineering and rail transport industry, where the complex problem of rail and wheel wear is of central concern.

 

 

Polymer bushing and wear material producer Vesconite Bearings appointed five additional sales people, the majority of whom are engineers, in late January.

Calvin Mpofu, Franco Visser, Richard Laurent, Werner Bekker and Wian Venter have since attended a one-month intensive training programme in the polymer products that the company sells and the industries to which it sells, as well as on the company’s accounting and logistics systems.

The new staff members have been allocated to various industries:-

  • Mpofu will focus on forklifts, which can use the company’s products where friction and load are present and existing polymer or bronze materials are unable to cope with the tough operating conditions;
  • Visser will place attention on the commercial automotive market, particularly those vehicles exposed to heavy loads, long distances and adverse road conditions;
  • Laurent and Bekker will concentrate on the pumps industry’s use of the company’s polymers, with special attention on wear rings and support bushings that offer improved pump efficiencies and lifespans for industrial pump users; and
  • Venter will increase Vesconite’s presence in countries with a strong marine industry, with an initial focus on promoting sales of propeller shaft, rudder bearings and miscellaneous on-deck marine equipment.

It is believed that the new sales people’s engineering backgrounds, together with the training that they have received, will set them up to provide excellent technical advice to clients who require superior specialised guidance and service.

It is believed, further, that they will increase the company’s geographic footprint and market share in the forklift, automotive, pump and marine industries.

 

 

We are changing our trading name to Vesconite Bearings, so you will be seeing VescoPlastics Sales (Pty) Ltd t/a Vesconite Bearings on your invoices and statements and Vesconite Bearings on our website, newsletters, letterheads and other communications.

Our company name, VescoPlastics Sales (Pty) Ltd, continues to be used for banking purposes so we continue with the same banking details that we have always had.

The reason for our new trading name is to more accurately reflect our company focus and activities: today more than 90% of our business is concerned with bearing applications.

Thank you for your support of our low-friction wear-resistant self-lubricating polymer products. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this notice feel free to contact us.

Dear Customers

We would like to announce VescoPlastics Sales (Pty) Ltd trading as Vesconite Bearings. The new “trading-as” name, Vesconite Bearings, reflects more accurately our focus on bearing applications.

Any questions?

Please see the notification letter here

 

 

One of South Africa’s largest independent polyurethane and plastic foam manufacturers restarted an important gear pump, used to pump glue to rebound foam chips, without difficulty after the company’s December-January closed period.

Because the gear pump pumps viscous adhesive liquid at one of the company’s two chip plants, pumps can fail to restart if component parts are immobilised by glue after a long period of inactivity.

However, with the introduction of Vesconite Hilube polymer bushings in the well-known Viking internal gear pump, the company’s pump restarted with ease.

Not only that, the Vesconite Hilube pump bushings, which were inspected at the time of the restart, showed no wear.

The foam manufacturer service manager notes that the self-lubricating hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube polymer bushings replaced carbon graphite ones, which had tended to crack in the warm operating environment, in which the viscous glue-like chemicals needed to be heated to be applied to the foam chips.

This did not occur with the Vesconite Hilube, which had the added advantage of being self-lubricating and being able to move in the high-friction environment.

“You can’t use an ordinary plastic bush,” says the service manager.

“The gum dries out and sticks to the bush if you try. After the December break and after long weekends, the gear pumps ceased to operate before we used Vesconite Hilube.”

The company manufacturers 800 tons per year of chip mattress blocks.

These are used for mattresses, bus seats, gymnasium mats, restaurant seats and in other high-density furniture and bedding applications.

The service manager says that the Vesconite Hilube bushing has lasted seven months, and is pleased that it has survived and continued to operate after the holiday period.

He has installed Vesconite Hilube bushings on several gear pumps at the factory, including several pumps where temperatures can reach 65°C.

He believes that this is a low-maintenance solution for a challenging operating environment.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has a long history of service to recreational boat users thanks to its large number of distributors for its marine products.

Dutch-born world travellers Adri and Sytske Broekhuizen, for instance, installed a Vesconite stern bearing in their 43ft aluminium sailing yacht, from the designer Koopmans in Lelystad, when they were docked in Singapore in 2008.

“We chose Vesconite because we found a machine shop in Singapore that could make the bearing,” says Adri, of the polymer bearings, which are suitable for the submerged and corrosive conditions of the marine industry and have internal lubricants that allow for prolonged life where the setting is characterised by irregular greasing schedules, or no greasing at all.

The couple sailed in northern Europe until 2002, when they embarked on a round-the-world trip from 2002 to 2015.

Nearly 80 years old, they currently use their yacht, Marida, in summer in the inland waters around the Friesland Islands and, in retirement, they use it as a summer house.

“We were always sailing from our youth until now when we are nearly 80 years old,” notes Adri.

“The Vesconite bearing is still on our boat,” he confirms.

Over the past 50 years, thousands of commercial vessels and leisure marine crafts, including the Broekhuizen’s yacht, Marida, have been equipped with Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, testifying to the polymers’ success in this industry.

“It is important that recreational boat owners have access to our products anywhere in the world so that they can cover significant distances and embark on long-distance trips with confidence,” says Vesconite Bearings’ Monique Kooij of Adri and Sytske’s adventurous travels.

Vesconite Bearings has warehouses in South Africa, the US, UK, Netherlands, Dubai and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore. A number of resellers at various ports are also able to supply stern tubes and rudder bearings, as well as rods and hollow bar for the machining of on-deck equipment.

 

 

When the team responsible for the maintenance of the irrigation system at one of South Africa’s premier golf courses was confronted with high levels of debris and pumps running dry for periods, it shifted to a high-temperature-resistant high-wear-resistant polymer, Hitemp 150, for replacement pump bowl bushings.

Kyle Pienaar, of Golf Turf Electronics, found that the OEM-supplied carbon pump bowl bushings lasted only two months at the Sabi River Sun course, while another polymer’s bushings lasted six months in the highly-abrasive debris-filled water.

As a result, he turned to an even tougher polymer material, Hitemp 150, which is designed by Vesconite Bearings to give good resistance to abrasion and to be especially suited for dirty applications.

Faced with highly abrasive conditions, the bushings lasted a year without a scratch, tells Pienaar.

Pienaar also found Hitemp 150’s temperature characteristics useful.

With a temperature rating of 150ºC (300ºF),  a short-term temperature limit of 170ºC (340ºF) and a melting point of 265ºC (509ºF), the material was also suitable for the harsh operating conditions that it would face, including having to run dry for limited periods.

Pienaar notes that unattended pumps on golf courses can run dry for lengthy periods.

While this is not ideal for the pumps or the bushings, if the bushings are treated as sacrificial parts that protect the pump in a harsh environment, the Hitemp 150 polymer bushings do their job.

The bushings, which can withstand 1 minute of dry running, will eventually be affected by an environment in which water cooling does not occur.

In extreme cases, the bushings melt on to the shaft, describes Pienaar.

This causes the motor to trip and the pump to cease to operate, he says, noting that this is preferable to damage that may be caused by a pump running dry for a lengthy period.

Golf Turf Electronics has several golf-course pump maintenance contracts in South Africa and provide bowl bushings for the bottom of the pump shaft as well as intermediate support bushings.

At the Sabi River Sun golf course, Golf Turf Electronics fitted the Vesconite Hitemp 150 bushings to two OEM canister pumps, each with a flow rate of 80m3/h.

 

 

Dear Clients, Suppliers and Friends,

Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.

With the many holidays coming up, we would appreciate your placing your custom component orders before Wednesday 4 December.

Vesconite Bearings will only have standby staff after Friday December 20 until Monday January 6.

The Vesconite Bearings Team

 

 

The architects for a day-care centre in Meloding Township, near Virginia, in the Free State, South Africa, were awarded a merit award by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) Free State on the 18th of October 2019.

The award, which was conferred on Krynauw Nel & Associates and EBESA Architects for the new classroom wing at the school, is regarded as an important recognition of new architecture and building techniques that could revolutionise South African and other school environments, according to the client, Vesconite Bearings.

Many schools in South Africa, and globally, are characterised by overcrowding, a lack of teachers and books, poor climate control, and a lack of facilities, among other problems.

Architects are often an overlooked component in the design of schools since they are regarded as an unnecessary expense, which pushes up the total cost of the project.

However, the day-care centre and the project initiator, Vesconite Bearings, have found that utilising an architect on a low-cost school can have tremendous benefits.

One of the biggest benefits of the architectural design has been the temperature control and insulation of the building.

Community leader and school board chairperson Mr Welle Joseph Mhlahlo has commented that the thermal advantages of the new classrooms have been evident in the winter and there is a noticeable difference between the outside temperature and the new classrooms, as well as the old classrooms and the new classrooms.

Mhlahlo says that there is no need for heaters in the new classrooms, as compared to the old classrooms in which children congregate around heaters to stay warm.

In the citation for the project, juror Pieter Mathews agreed.

He wrote: “Passive design principles and technologies were employed to optimally counter and control the harsh Free State climate of Virginia.”

“These include raised ceilings to lift the heat zone, dormer windows with opening sections, plaster with improved R-values, hot air chambers, insulated floors with bamboo surfaces and double glazing.”

Vesconite Bearings believes that, besides the wonderful aesthetics of the school and the sense of opportunity, worthiness, freedom and an optimism about the future that are created by the innovative design, the school benefits from passive design principles.

The self-regulating nature of the building design results in energy efficiency and cost savings, since there is little expenditure on heating and cooling.

These design principles would be well worth implementing in other schools, since these are structures in which additional operating costs are undesirable, enthuses Vesconite Bearings, adding that the comfort of building users is another immense benefit of this style of design.

Projects that were awarded a “Regional Award for Architecture”, including the Meloding pre-school, will be submitted for South African national adjudication to become eligible for a SAIA/Corobrik Award of Merit and a SAIA/Corobrik Award for Excellence in 2020.

It is hoped that the SAIA Free State award to the Meloding project, as well as the project’s presence in the national-award adjudication process, will focus attention on the school and potentially act as a reference for other architects as well as school-infrastructure policy makers.

 

 

Launched in 2009, the 515′ x 88′ oil/chemical tanker Celsius Birdie has thousands of bluewater miles under her keel. When it was time to replace a stern tube bearing, Guangzhou Shipyard International and owner Celsius Shipping chose Vesconite. The advanced high-performance marine polymer has a deserved reputation for long service life and proven reliability.

Unlike oil-lubricated lignum vitae, white metal and composites, Vesconite is self-lubricating, so there’s no chance of running afoul of environmental regulations. Additionally, because the polymer doesn’t require lubrication equipment, there’s less downtime for maintenance.

Ideal as a stern tube bearing, Vesconite offers a long wear life—even in the dirty, silty waters of the Panama Canal. With low friction, any jarring torque on propulsion components is reduced.

Machining to exacting +/-0.001″ tolerances, Vesconite has high compression strength and dimensional stability. These are important qualities for the 25,399 DWT Celsius Birdie and its 600mm OD x 475mm ID x 1,900mm L stern tube bearings.

Vesconite is ISO 9001 accredited and bears type approval certifications from ABS, Bureau Veritas, China Corporation Register of Shipping, DNV GL, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register. It’s available as custom precision-machined parts or raw hollow bar, solid rod and plate stock shapes in a broad range of dimensions and thicknesses.

 

 

A UK manufacturer of brackets for electrical equipment has changed its 3D printer bushings to Vesconite ones.

The manufacturer had used roller bearings on its two Prusa 3D printers, but had found that roller bearings wore away the printer rods. They also required regular greasing.

Following some online searching, Triple Link Manufacturing founder Mark Bagnall discovered a reference to Vesconite 3D printer bushings and was attracted by the fact that they were low maintenance and required no greasing.

In addition, he was pleased with the fact that the product promised low rod wear and would not result in costly damage and time spent having to strip down the 3D printers to replace the rods and bushings.

Mark reports that, following some adjustments to make sure that the positioning and the spacing of the bushings was correct, the bushings have been operating well.

He has Vesconite Hilube bushings installed on one printer and Vesconite Superlube, the lower-co-efficient-of-friction polymer bushing, installed on the other.

He will also install Vesconite on future 3D printers as the business expands.

“We produce perfectly good quality products,” states Mark, who notes that the finish is great for functional components that compete with commercial bracket suppliers.

Triple Link Manufacturing, through sister company Indigo Lime, produces Sky TV box brackets, TV wall and stand mounts and even Playstation mountings, among other products.

Mark highlights that customers are accepting the quality of 3D printed parts for functional usage since they are cheaper than injection-moulded parts.

The process also allows for the production of the necessary volumes, without large overruns, and, with Mark’s expertise, he has been able to optimise the designs to reduce the print time and the material usage involved in printing, thereby further decreasing the manufacturing and raw material costs.

The company has been steadily growing its electrical equipment bracket manufacturing since sales began at the beginning of the year.

In addition, the design and manufacturing company also continues to produce prototype 3D printed parts for customers who will eventually manufacture their own injection-moulded parts.

 

 

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 would be useful in the Nile which, while it has acceptable water quality, is known to be polluted with agricultural, industrial and household waste, he comments.

 

 

The team that was awarded the Guinness World Record in 2017 for the longest distance covered by a miniature steam train is setting its sights on improving its record.

Keyser Locomotive Works, together with the Pietermaritzburg Model Engineering Society, in South Africa, was able to cover 330km in 24 hours in its record-breaking attempt, which outstripped the previous 1994 record of 269km covered in 24 hours.

It did so for a number of reasons, one of which was the self-lubricating Vesconite polymer bushings that were fitted to the connecting and coupling rods.

These internal, hard-to-reach turning components did not need to be oiled, and this helped reduce stopping times during the record attempt.

“You can’t oil these bushings on the run,” says the locomotive owner Andries Keyser.

This was not the case with many of the original bronze bushings that had to be oiled every hour when the locomotives stopped and the drivers were changed.

Six of the main crank bushings are currently made from Vesconite polymer bushings on the record-breaking locomotive named Doreen, but the intention is to replace all the bushings with Vesconite eventually so as to reduce oiling requirements in future record-breaking bids.

“The Vesconite has no heat expansion and, using a sloppy fit, didn’t heat up at all,” Keyser notes.

“The engine output was not compromised in any way and still runs today on the same bushes, two years and many kilometers later,” he says.

Another innovation that will assist Keyser to further improve the record is the fact that he is building the longest straightest track that he can in the Stellenbosch Winelands, in South Africa. This will enable the locomotive to run at higher speeds on a track gauge of only 184mm.

Known as the Winelands Light Railway, Keyser is establishing a theme park with 1/3-scale trains, matching buildings, bridges and tunnels, and a hobbies expo for locomotive enthusiasts once a year. Presently there are four steam and one electric locomotive in the engine shed, with 13 wagons able to haul up to 50 people per train. Everything is hand made and based on narrow-gauge prototypes from all over the world.

Starting on the 14th of December 2019, the park will be open on weekends, public and school holidays if the weather allows. This unique attraction aims to become the biggest family-friendly destination in the Western Cape within the next 10 years. 

Keyser will make another world-record attempt sometime in the near future, and expects that between 30 and 60km will be added to the current distance record.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings believes that the earthmoving industry in New Zealand has significant potential, with some of its first forays into this sector showing promise.

Vesconite Bearings New Zealand’s technical sales representative, Eddie Swanepoel, explains that he has been introducing this market to Vesconite, having convinced a plant-hire company, which carries out its own repairs and sells original equipment and other parts, to install four bucket bushings (also called skip bushings) on a Volvo A30 dump truck.

The high-wear-resistant no-grease polymer bucket bushing will replace a green nylon one that is supplied by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

It is regarded as a like-for-like application, since the measurements of the OEM part are identical to that supplied by Vesconite.

However, it will not wear out as quickly as nylon and will not have to be greased as often.

“The application will definitely work,” Swanepoel enthuses, noting that Vesconite Bearings has been successful with a similar part in a UK OEM’s articulated dump truck (ADT) and has also had success with replacement parts for various ADT makes and models.

Swanepoel notes that there are a large number of equipment-hire companies in New Zealand that could benefit from his product offering.

ADTs are popular in areas where uneven ground is present and where a large flat rigid dump truck is unsuitable.

 

 

When Roy McBride, founder of CKD Boats, needed to select bearings for the yacht he was  building, he chose the one bearing material he knew would last: Vesconite. The ultra-low friction, self-lubricating polymer is the ideal marine bushing for applications above and below the waterline. After 19 years, there’s no sign of wear.

Every few years, McBride inspects the bearings on Flying Cloud, a Dix 43, as he reapplies bottom paint. “The boat I fitted with Vesconite rudder and propeller shaft bearings was launched in January 2000,” he noted. “No wear has ever been found.”

Because of its dimensional stability, high load strength and reliability, Vesconite was the perfect choice for Flying Cloud. Internally-lubricated, the ultra-low friction polymer has no stick-slip, doesn’t swell and provides a wear life ten times that of bronze. It machines to +/-0.001″, making it ideal for applications with tight tolerances.

CKD Boats specializes in CNC-cut boat kits, from Optimists to offshore cruising and racing vessels. It has over 17 years of experience in boat design, boatbuilding, surveying and valuations, and offers unparalleled service, superior quality products, and hands-on experience and knowledge.

 

 

In the five years since Vesconite Bearings introduced a minimum of two layers of corrugated cardboard packaging around each of its dispatched polymer bushings and rods, the company has had no returns from breakages due to transportation.

The company instituted this as a packaging standard after a complaint by a customer led it to investigate its packaging policies.

Vesconite Bearings then decided that if stock items could not be packed into rigid tube-like cores rods and bushings would be placed in corrugated board, with the ends folded and taped for protection.

Rods and bushings would be further wrapped in corrugated cardboard, so that cardboard would provide additional packaging.

For airfreight packaging, the package would be included in a box where it weighed less than 20kg and secured to a pallet if the box or set of boxes weighed more than 20kg, to ensure easy handling.

The company believes that this set of packaging policies ensures customer satisfaction since corrugated cardboard, with an arched paper that fits between two liners, can carry a range of weights, protect against moisture, and is a sustainable, recyclable packaging solution.

“We have entered a new era in which you never get any returns as a result of breakages during transportation,” enthuses stores manager Martin Nyathi.

“Our packaging prevents cracking and breaking so that customers receive their orders intact,” he says.

 

 

 

Vesconite Bearings’ casing wear rings are proving so popular that they are currently the company’s most important wear component for the pump industry.

The wear rings are used to restrict the pressure leakage of the fluid between the inlet of the impeller and the pump casing in centrifugal pumps. 

The wear rings are made from the thermoplastic Vesconite Hilube, which is a low-friction, wear-resistant polymer that replaces traditional metals such as bronze and stainless steel as well as other thermopolymers.

Here are the benefits:

  • They replace metal components that require large running clearances to avoid metal-on-metal contact. Metal-on-metal can result in galling and unwanted pump vibration, as well as severe damage to the pump;
  • They improve efficiency since tighter running clearances can be applied;
  • They do not require pump redesigns, since they can fit into the same housings used by metal wear rings and, because they are press fit, do not require mechanical fitment or glue;
  • They can be easily machined from a variety of tube stock or they can be machined for use using Vesconite Bearings’ machining capability;
  • They are impervious to salt-water corrosion and thus are ideal for sea water and reverse osmosis pumps where galvanic corrosion may destroy stainless steel wear rings;
  • They resist cavitation, a problem often encountered with metal wear rings; and
  • Vesconite Hilube is approved, including by NSF61 and WRAS, for drinking water applications. 

 

 

Sailboats classified as superyachts put tremendous strain on their running rigging. That’s why A+ Rigging of Mallorca, Spain chooses Vesconite, the advanced marine polymer, for components that routinely have massive working loads, yet need to run freely without lubrication such as halyard sheaves.

Ultra-low friction Vesconite has a compressive yield strength of 12,750 psi, yet is self-lubricating, making it ideal for rigging that cannot be inspected with any regularity. It has exceptional wear resistance and for areas where it’s exposed, excellent UV resistance. These features and the ability to machine to exacting tolerances of +/-0.001″ are why so many sailboat makers use the polymer, including an America’s Cup foiling catamaran.

“We tested Vesconite the first time 15 years ago as a bearing material for a spinnaker halyard sheave on a large yacht,” said Marko Bakker, A+ Rigging project manager. “We realized it was the only material that didn’t melt under high load and high speed.” A+ Rigging uses Vesconite exclusively on mast and deck sheaves, boom gooseneck fittings, hydraulic winches and furling gear. “It has proven itself to be the best material out there; it doesn’t disintegrate or need lubrication and is easy to machine.”

Founded in 1996, A+ Rigging Mallorca is the leading superyacht rigging service center in the Mediterranean. It’s experienced with all types of sailboats, from classic to high-performance yachts. The company has longstanding relationships with all major mast manufacturers and is highly skilled with rod, metal and synthetic wire, and carbon fiber rigging.

 

 

A Southern African pump manufacturer has received its order for Vesconite low-swell hard-wearing water-flinger polymer bearings for four of its pump sizes.

The manufacturer found that its horizontal centrifugal pumps, as a result of high pressure, had a problem of water escaping from the gland packing – the material that should form a watertight seal around the shaft.

This resulted in dirty water being sprayed on to the non-drive-end bearing assembly and, in turn, resulted in seizure, failure, and a high maintenance and down-time cost to replace the bearing assembly.

“The manufacturer designed a water flinger (deflector) solution that would attach to the release collar on the shaft,” describes Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Phillip de Villiers.

“This would mean that excess water from the gland packing would be deflected with the rotation of the shaft,” he says.

However, the initial solution employed a phenolic laminated material, which was found to absorb water and delaminate.

To eliminate these problems the company then called on De Villiers, who suggested Vesconite as an alternative material that would not swell or delaminate and had the added advantage of being suitable in dirty environments because of its excellent wear-resistant properties.

“Samples were produced and tested and, proving successful, the manufacturer ordered water flingers of various designs for its different pump sizes,” reports De Villiers.

“The whole process from sample production to first order took three months,” he says.

The pump manufacturer intends to use Vesconite water flingers in all of its pumps, which are used in a variety of applications.

It is active in a multitude of African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and in the DRC, in which some of the first Vesconite water flingers will be installed in a dewatering pump in a mine.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has opened an office in New Zealand to assist customers and resellers with their Vesconite low-friction no-grease-required polymer bearing and wear-material requirements.

Vesconite Bearings has also appointed Eddie Swanepoel as Vesconite Bearings New Zealand’s Technical Sales Representative. 

Swanepoel brings a wealth of experience to the position. He is knowledgeable about a variety of industrial polymers and their applications, and has been employed in the industry, including for Vesconite Bearings’ South African branch, for 10 years.

The new New Zealand company builds on Vesconite Bearings’ plans to expand the brand’s share of the niche thermopolymer industry.

Swanepoel will build on the existing New Zealand client base in conjunction with resellers and particularly concentrate on New Zealand’s agricultural and marine industries, which have been identified as under-serviced potentially-high-value markets.

Vesconite Bearings has warehouses in the US, UK, Netherlands, South Africa and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia, Dubai and Singapore. 

 

 

Just because a commercial vessel plies the crystal-clear cerulean waters of the Bahamas doesn’t mean it has a carefree life. For Gerry Fleming of Aqua Cat Cruises, it meant constant attention to the sand and silt that wreaked havoc on the bearings of his fleet of liveaboard dive vessels that operate in the area. That is, until he switched to Vesconite, the high-performance, low-friction polymer that was engineered to shrug-off particulates.

Aqua Cat, the company’s 105′ x 36′ flagship, was delivered with rubber-lined phenolic rudder and stern tube bearings. Drawing under 6′, the vessel’s skeg would often touch bottom, kicking up sand and silt. The result was no water flow and burned-out bearings. “After a hurricane, silt is drawn up from deep water,” said Fleming. “It plugs up everything.”

Working around his vessels’ year-round, 24/7 booking schedule, Fleming implemented standardized maintenance for his fleet, hauling every two years. Aqua Cat has three bearings on each main shaft, four rudder bearings and two sand shoe bearings. “It’s expensive to change-out bearings,” Fleming continued. “With Vesconite, bearing service is now beyond six years.”

Self-lubricating Vesconite is the ideal marine bearing material. It has no stick-slip, doesn’t swell in water and provides a wear life ten times that of bronze. The polymer machines to +/-0.001″, making it perfect for applications with tight tolerances. Originally conceived for use in muddy underground mines, it excels in dirty conditions that leave other bearing materials prematurely wearing shafts.

“I would never use another bearing material,” said Fleming. Vesconite makes my life easier.”

For over 40 years, All Star Liveaboards has offered a wide range of diving excursions in the Caribbean and SE Asia. Aside from Aqua Cat, its fleet includes a 65′ sailing catamaran and two 65′ sloops in the Bahamas, as well as luxury vessels in the BVI, Indonesia and the Philippines.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings’ grease-free polymer bearings and wear parts for the marine industry will be even more widely available from August 2019.

This follows the introduction of additional warehousing in Dubai, which adds to Vesconite Bearings’ global warehousing and stocking-distribution capacity located in the US, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Singapore and South Africa.

Dubai, as the busiest trading port in the Arabian Gulf, requires convenient marine bearing and wear-material stock to cater for the large liner companies that are increasingly using Dubai as a global trade-route and feeder vessel trans-shipment centre.

The intention is to include a range of sizes able to accommodate most typical propeller shaft and rudder diameters. Useful plate and rod dimensions will also be included to accommodate various other marine applications, where long wear life, low friction and no greasing are desired.

“Additional warehouses and stocking distributors mean that our bearings reach our customers faster,” says Marine Technical Representative Sharon Mc Ardle.

“Our quick dispatch times will ensure that we become a supplier of choice for many companies, which can incur significant costs if a ship is in a dry dock for considerable periods waiting for required replacement bearings.”

Polymers Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube are ideal for the submerged and corrosive conditions of the marine industry.

Suited to both dry and underwater applications, the products’ internal lubricants allow for prolonged life where the setting is characterised by irregular greasing schedules, or no greasing at all.

Unlike most bearing materials, the company’s polymers offer long wear life and a high load-bearing capacity with no distortion or delamination, despite the wet and abrasive working environment.

Over the past 50 years, hundreds of industrial and leisure marine applications – from yachts to supertankers – have been equipped with Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, testifying to their success in this industry.

 

 

A Georgia-based vertical-turbine pump manufacturer is regularly drawing on its 5000-unit blanket wear-rings order, which it signed with Vesconite Bearings in March 2019.

The order, which covers a one-year-period, allows the manufacturer to request low-friction Vesconite Hilube polymer wear rings for 10 of its vertical-turbine-pump models.

These have already been produced, and are simply ordered as required, and then invoiced and dispatched.

Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Charlie Simpson notes that the company ordered its first Vesconite Hilube wear rings in 2015 and, after testing, started ordering larger quantities from 2017.

In a March 2019 visit to the pump manufacturer, fixed volume requirements and pricing were finalised and these were included in the blanket order.

“The company is happy with the performance of the Vesconite Hilube wear rings,” says Simpson.

“It sees the value of using the product and has switched all of its wear rings to Vesconite Hilube ones in all of its own-brand vertical-turbine pumps.”

The manufacturer supplies the central and south-eastern USA with pumps for the municipal, industrial, fire and flood-control industries.

Vesconite Hilube wear rings are valued because they allow for exceptionally close clearances to ensure greater pump efficiencies and save energy costs. They are also impeller friendly, and will act as a mechanical fuse – a sacrificial part which does not damage impellers, unlike bronze and stainless steel wear rings.

Wear rings from Vesconite Hilube are suitable for use with mildly acidic or basic liquids. Being hard wearing, they are suitable for use in applications where some debris is present.

 

 

A high-temperature, abrasion-resistant bearing polymer has been developed by Vesconite Bearings from all food-grade ingredients.

The polymer is known as Hitemp 150 FG (food grade), and its name signifies that it can be used in applications that run at temperatures up to 150ºC and in which food contact is incidental or likely.

The previous version of Hitemp 150 did not explicitly use food grade ingredients, but, as a result from calls from the food industry to produce a similar hard-wearing product for use in food applications, alternative ingredients were sought for food safety.

“We have produced a product in which a food-approved ingredients have been used,” comments technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel.

“It is cream with a streaky marble look as opposed to the previous rust-coloured Hitemp 150 polymer,” he notes.

The next step is to have the polymer approved as compliant with Standard 51 of the US’s National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), the standard that deals with polymer materials and components used in food equipment, including products that come into contact with food and beverages.

Vesconite Bearings is confident that the newest version of the polymer will be judged to be food grade since all the raw materials ingredients are certified as food grade.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of advanced polymer bushings, has launched a 3D printer bushing web store.

Located on the company website, at https://www.vesconite.com/3d-printer-bushings/order/ ,  stock printer bushings include the LM12UU, LM10UU, LM8LUU, LM8UU and LM6UU, priced from $1.90 excluding taxes and shipping.

The specialised 3D printer bushings in stock fit many common 3D models. They come in Vesconite Hilube and an advanced grade, Vesconite Superlube.

Both materials greatly reduce noise, have self-lubricating properties with low coefficients of friction. Each material is ideally suited for 3D printers and provide many benefits for users, including better quality prints with reduced ghosting.

Vesconite Superlube is the advanced grade with a significantly lower coefficient of friction. It is preferred since its low friction results in less strain on the stepper motors, less belt tension and extended bushing wear life. 

Vesconite Bearings has been inundated with requests for its noise-reducing, grease-free, shaft-friendly 3D printer polymer bushings that replace bronze sleeve bushings and linear ball bearings. 

As a result, this dedicated web store has been established to deal with the influx of enquiries and cater for the technologically-savvy client base, which is happiest ordering products online.

For information and testimonials, click https://www.vesconite.com/3d-printer-bushes/

 

 

Vesconite Bearings (also known as VescoPlastics) has received the Customer Service Award in the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) Awards for Excellence in 2019.

In presenting the award, University of Pretoria Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Marketing Management and Consulta Research CEO, Prof. Adré Schreuder, made the following remarks:

The Award recognises those companies which are constantly striving to exceed customer expectations, and ensuring that customer-centric thinking should receive more focus in manufacturing.

The winner of this category demonstrated improved customer service excellence and resourcefulness based on the specific customer requirements.

Of the three entries for this category, there was one company that stood out – and that was VescoPlastics.

The VescoPlastics story goes right back to 1968, when founder and chemical engineer Alain Francois Leger began researching the potential for polymer-bearing materials in the gold mines of the Orange Free State – a harsh environment characterised by dirty and wet conditions. Fifty years on, VescoPlastics is South Africa’s leading manufacturer of low-friction, low-wear, polymer-bearing materials for a wide range of industries in over 100 countries across the globe.

The challenge for the company was to reduce dispatch times for clients. Its current target was to have 60% of its orders dispatched within one working day (24 hours) of receiving an order, and having 90% of its orders dispatched within three working days (72 hours). These targets were not communicated to or promised to clients, however, so when exceptional delivery times were experienced, this was seen as exceeding client expectations rather than meeting them.

The intervention anticipated that VescoPlastics’ marine customers would find it most beneficial since a marine breakdown means a loss in production and lost earnings, as well as dry-dock occupancy fees.  However, all customers, rather than only marine customers, were targeted as part of a general dispatch-urgency project.

The intervention to reduce dispatch times was focused on VescoPlastics’ export customers, which comprise more than 50% of its sales. These customers can experience delays in receiving their orders if any aspect of the supply chain is not adequately managed.

Although it would appear that reducing dispatch delivery times may appear to be a small part of customer service as well as the entire customer experience of interacting with VescoPlastics, it is believed that this intervention was important in reinforcing a culture of customer service and one of the key aspects of the customer experience that required improving.

There was an increased level of sales in the 2018 period as compared to the 2017 period. However, it is difficult to determine whether and how much of this increase was due to reduced dispatch times since many other interventions may have played a role in VescoPlastics’ improved financial performance.  It may be noted that, whilst many companies in the same manufacturing space were reporting major downturns due to the overall economic situation, this was not the case for VescoPlastics, where their sales were holding strong.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, the richly-deserving Winner of the 2018 Customer Service Award of the Year is —– VescoPlastics.  We are delighted to present the Award to VescoPlastics and heartily congratulate the company.

Vesconite  Bearings thanks Prof. Schreuder for his kind words and congratulates SEIFSA on another successful award ceremony. Vesconite Bearings is pleased that the Federation continues to encourage excellence in customer service, as well as achievements in innovation, health and safety, corporate social investment, transformation, artisan training and environmental stewardship.

Vesconite Bearings congratulates its fellow winners: HC Heat Exchangers, Pamodzi Unique Engineering, Babcock International, Howden, SNC Lavalin, Schneider Electric, KSB Pumps & Valves, Constructional Engineering Association, Colin Boyes and Koketso Lekganyane.

 

 

Melamine hanger bearings will face a new competitor in the sugar industry, as a result of the development and active promotion of the abrasion-resistant polymer Hitemp 150 FG.

The polymer’s name signifies that it can be used in applications that run at temperatures up to 150ºC. Manufactured from ingredients that are all food grade approved, it is a candidate for applications in which food contact is possible or likely.

It is thus deemed suitable for many sugar-industry applications in which hanger bearings are exposed to highly-abrasive pulp and massecuite, the abrasive mixture of sugar crystals and liquor resulting from the crystallisation process.

Melamine has been the preferred material for many sugar-industry hanger bearings in the past since it is abrasion resistant.

However, its big disadvantage is that it delaminates in some cases.

This can result in parts of the melamine hanger bearings being shed into the transported material.

In addition, the propensity to delaminate has resulted in cases of limited shelf life for bearings, with some melamine-impregnated fabric bearings starting to delaminate on the shelf.

Besides delamination, the fact that sugar mills have reported that there is a scarcity of melamine hanger bearings have resulted in calls for an alternative product, with Vesconite Hitemp 150 FG being developed by Vesconite Bearings in response to these calls.

The original formulation of Vesconite Hitemp 150 has proved successful in hanger bearings that were in contact with reject sugar and in processing and boiling in the sugar-manufacturing process.

“The new formulation, which has all food-grade raw materials, could even be used in the granulation stage of the sugar-manufacturing process,” says technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel of the expanded range of applications in which the new polymer could be used.

The food-grade polymer is cream with a streaky marble look as opposed to the rust-coloured original Vesconite Hitemp 150 polymer, he reports.

Hanger bearings are available in three stock sizes, viz. 155 x100mm, 120 x 60mm and 100 x 50mm, and bearings can also be manufactured to customer prints.

The hanger bearings are extruded as a solid polymer tube and then split.

They are supplied with flanges to secure the bearing in the housing.

They are not mechanically secured and can be fitted using a sliding fit.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is ramping up its 5-axis machining capability in line with future demands for more complex machined parts made from its advanced engineered plastics. 

The company already has a Haas VF 11 and a 6-m Marufuku machining centre with a 5-axis head, and is currently investigating the purchase of specialist software that will allow it to produce even more complicated parts. 

“We are ready to increase our 5-axis machining,” factory manager Robin Crabb says of the initiative that has training, staffing and technology implications. 

Four staff members have already been familiarising themselves with 5-axis technology and have trained themselves in the use of the complex 5-axis machines that allow the cutting tool to move across the X,Y and Z linear axes and the workpiece to tilt and to rotate in any direction. 

On purchase of additional specialist 5-axis software, selected staff will also undergo further training, with the intention that all staff will be fully familiar with 5-axis machine use and programming. 

The decision on which computer-aided-design and -manufacturing software option to purchase is currently being considered by CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, as this software is regarded as vital for the success of the initiative to place emphasis on 5-axis machining. 

“With the additional software, we will be able to undertake continuous cutting on 5 axes,” says Crabb. 

“This will result in less machine downtime and reduced set-up times,” he notes of the software, which will allow the company to complete technical drawings and programme machines for uninterrupted manufacturing. 

Additional 5-axis machining capability will permit Vesconite Bearings to take on challenging machining projects, including many difficult precision-machined custom wear parts, such as daggerboard casings for high-technology sailing boats that are used as an alternative to fixed keels on catamarans. 

Vesconite Bearings has a factory floor space of 20,000 m2, and its factory includes polymer compounding, extrusion and moulding shops in addition to its extensive machine shop, which includes 75 computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres. 

The company makes rods, machined plates and bushings as stock parts, as well as high-quality finished parts for the agriculture, railways, mining, pump, heavy transport, hydro, renewable, earthmoving and marine industries. 

The polymer bushings and wear-materials manufacturer prides itself on fast production, turnaround and delivery, with an average global delivery time, using various courier companies with global experience, of three to seven working days. 

 

 

No-grease engineered polymer Vesconite Hilube bushings were used as suspension bushings in two of the Colcar racing team’s vehicles in the 2019 Dakar Rally that finished in January this year.

They were installed in vehicles in the truck category, with vehicles weighing more than 3500kg, as well as the utility vehicle (UTV) category, also known as four-wheel side-by-side vehicle or recreational off-highway vehicle category.

Unfortunately, the truck had an accident and the team abandoned the race. However, the UTV won its category and also finished 18 overall.

The use of Vesconite Hilube bushings in the Argentinian team’s Dakar vehicles this year builds on a growing record of Vesconite Hilube use in the South American team’s yearly Dakar entries.

In 2018, Vesconite Hilube bushings were fitted to two trucks, one of which finished in position 23 and the other of which did not finish for various reasons.

In 2017, meanwhile, the Argentinian team finished in 33rd position, and continued to use their Vesconite Hilube bushings for two other local competitions that covered a total distance equivalent to three Dakar Rallies.

“The polymer bushings have proven themselves over the gruelling annual 9,000 km multi-country South American Dakar endurance race that covers various terrains, including sand dunes, mountains and salt flats,” comments Leandro Panzini of VesArg, the Argentinian distributor of the Vesconite Hilube. 

“Suspension bushings are considered important in vehicle safety, ride comfort and handling and also align suspension and steering components … and they are paramount in the Dakar, in which vehicles travel at between 100 kph and 200 kph in all kinds of terrain over 15 days,” he says.

In the Dakar vehicles, the bushings were exposed to an oscillating movement with many cycles per minute taking place, and performed much better than the nylon-molybdenum bushings that they replaced, reports Panzini, who is proud to have Vesconite Hilube associated with this historic race and performing so well each year in race vehicles.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of advanced, self-lubricating polymers, in March dispatched several marine orders to Namibia, the Southern African country that borders Zambia, Angola, Botswana and South Africa.

While global shipping lines have been making a loss as a result of decreased shipping vessel sizes, Namibia is planning ahead for shipping-industry growth.

Namibia has, to this end, started implementing several mega projects to expand capacity and capture a larger share of Southern African port traffic.

Vesconite Bearings hopes to be part of the growth of the Namibian port and marine industry, and has already seen an increase in interest from this region, as a result of marketing and a successful roadshow to the country.

The three marine orders that were dispatched to Namibia in March were from a ship-repair-supplier company based in Walvis Bay, Namibia’s largest commercial port, which receives about 3,000 vessel calls each year and handles about 5 million tons of cargo.

“With a warehouse in Johannesburg, South Africa, Namibian marine customers can quickly obtain rudder bearings and stern tubes from Vesconite Bearings depending on the urgency of their order,” tells stores manager Martin Nyathi.

“Customers can ask for delivery via airfreight, express road freight or economy road freight, with delivery times ranging from one-to-two-days, three-to-four-days and one-to-two-weeks, depending on the courier option chosen,” he says.

 

 

Polymer bushing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings will be displaying some of its hard-wearing self-greasing polymer bushings this year at Stand 3, Caltex Hall, at Nampo — South Africa’s premier agricultural trade show, which takes places in Bothaville, in the Free State, from May 14 to 17.

Originally developed in the harsh conditions of the Free State gold mines, Vesconite polymers are ideally suited to agricultural settings. 

The company’s polymers bushings have been successfully used in applications such as combine harvester steering shaft and kingpin bushings, pivot point bushings on planters, borehole pump bushings, front-loader bushings on tractors, articulating arm bushings on sprayers, planter bushings, and many more.

The company’s products are valued by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers for being self-lubricating, wear resistant and useful in tough agricultural applications characterised by grit, mud and water.

Their display at Nampo is seen as a recognition that Vesconite polymer bushings are important products to have displayed at South Africa’s largest agricultural expo, where role-players in the farming industry seek solutions to challenges that they face.

“Whether you’re a farmer, repairer or manufacturer of harvesters, planters, sprayers, and harrows, etc., the Vesconite stand is a must visit,” says Vesconite Bearings agricultural technical representative Marius van Zyl. 

“Vesconite’s low-friction translates into 3 to 10 times longer life compared to metal bushings, especially under dirty, wet or poorly-lubricated conditions,” he says, noting that Vesconite polymers retain their material integrity and do not swell like nylon when exposed to moisture. 

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, the maker of advanced, self-lubricating polymers, invites you to win a magnum of wine with each recommendation of a Western Cape company that might be interested in our product.

Simply send the name of a company that is not an existing client of Vesconite Bearings, together with a contact person and their email address and telephone number to vesconite@vesconite.com. Include a note about why you think the company might be interested in our products and please also remember to send your name, company name, telephone number and delivery address so that you can receive your prize.

The initiative aims to promote our same-day dispatches from Cape Town of stock items, including rods, bushings and plates made of the no-grease, low-co-efficient-of-friction, hard-wearing thermopolymers Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube.

These are now stocked in Cape Town and available for same day dispatch with Skynet, with orders over R1200 delivered free of charge and a delivery fee of R100 charged for orders of less than R1200.

This is a new service that will save you (and your recommended contact!) time and money.

Ready to order from our Cape Town warehouse? Contact vesconite@vesconite.com on +27 11 616 1111.

 

 

From agriculture to water utilities, California’s total ban on lead has affected numerous industries. With a rising number of highly public water crises occurring, an increase in similar legislation is expected throughout the country. In preparation, many pump manufacturers that typically use bronze bearings are switching to Vesconite Hilube. Not only does the advanced thermopolymer outperform metallic bearings, it fully complies with lead-free regulations.

The bronze used for pump bearings is commonly an alloy of copper, tin and other metals, with lead added as a lubricant. As it wears, it leaches this toxin into irrigation, livestock, food manufacturing and potable water.

In contrast, lead-free Vesconite Hilube is self-lubricating and offers 10 times the wear life of bronze. This is an important consideration when dealing with aquifer and other pumps that are difficult and costly to maintain.

Unlike metallic bearings, Vesconite Hilube provides an exceptionally low friction coefficient range of 0.1–0.2. This allows for dry starting without stick-slip.

It won’t delaminate or swell, and can be run dry and used continuously up in temperatures up to 150° F. For irrigation applications, Vesconite Hilube excels in dirty field conditions.

Vesconite Hilube machines easily with tolerances of +/-0.001″. Due to its high dimensional stability and load strength, it can be threaded.

Vesconite is accredited to ISO 9001. Its polymers are available in North America as custom precision-machined parts or raw stock. Hollow bar, solid rod and plate stock shapes are available in a broad range of dimensions and thicknesses.

 

 

Several pump manufacturers have discovered that a combination of Vesconite Hilube bushings and wear rings can improve pump efficiencies even more than the introduction of either the bushings or the wear rings.

“One client introduced Vesconite Hilube bushings into their multi-stage pumps, but still had a stainless steel wear ring that needed bigger running clearances,” explains pump technical advisor Phillip de Villiers.

“The company has since switched to Vesconite Hilube wear rings, thereby reducing running clearances and improving efficiencies,” he says.

Efficiencies are improved if thermopolymer wear rings and bushings are used together and their running clearances are matched to each other. This results in reduced leakage as well as electricity savings.

In addition, metal-on-metal wear is eliminated, since polymer components that touch the metal are worn away themselves rather than having the metal wear away or damaged.

“Every pump manufacturer is trying to achieve better efficiencies,” says De Villiers.

“This is why many are seriously considering Vesconite Hilube bushings or wear rings and, increasingly, both Vesconite Hilube bushings and wear rings in their multi-stage pumps,” he concludes.

 

 

After years of replacing white metal stuffing box bearings on Calloo of Wivenhoe, Martin Wibmer chose an alternative. In 2007, he used Vesconite, the advanced, self-lubricating marine polymer. A recent survey found that the bearing was still sound with hardly any noticeable wear.

Ultra-low friction Vesconite has no stick-slip, making it ideal for use in sailboat deck, hardware, steering and propulsion applications. It provides a long wear life—up to 10 times that of bronze—even in dirty and silty conditions. Machining to exacting tolerances of +/-0.001″, it has exceptional dimensional stability and load strength, and threads easily.

“As a bearing material, it doesn’t seem to wear at all,” said Wibmer. “Mine is showing minimal deterioration after 12 years of regular use.”

Wibmer typically sails Calloo of Wivenhoe solo in the Moray Firth in northeast Scotland, but takes an annual cruise to the west coast of Norway. The 4.5 ton, 25.4′ x 8.4′ Bermuda-rigged sloop was built in 1962 using traditional plank-on-frame construction of Iroko over Canadian Rock Elm. He acquired the vessel in 1976.

Vesconite is available as custom precision-machined parts or raw stock. Hollow bar, solid rod and plate stock shapes are available in a broad range of dimensions and thicknesses.

 

 

An independent test has shown that a Vesconite left-hand torque-plate bushing, made from a no-grease hard-wearing engineered polymer, shows 35% less wear than a phosphor bronze right-hand torque-plate bushing of a similar design after one year of being exposed to abrasive material.

The test was carried out by a large trailer manufacturer over one year, and utilised a vibrating jig on which the bronze bushing was mounted on one side and the Vesconite one mounted on the other side.

The jig was enclosed in plastic wrap and sand and an inflow of air was introduced through a hole to simulate the abrasive off-road material that the bushings would be exposed to.

No seals were used so that the bushings would be maximally exposed to abrasive wear conditions.

“The intention was to mimic how a truck drove and when it braked to emulate the expansion against the drum,” says the test engineer.

“Initially we were going to do interval checks every 3 weeks but, because of the limited wear on the Vesconite, this was increased to 3-4 months and then left until a year was completed for the final fifth measurement.”

The results were conclusive: the Vesconite bushing showed 0.0175mm of wear to its inside diameter after one year compared to 0.05mm wear for phosphor bronze – demonstrating that a phosphor bronze bushing has 35% faster wear than Vesconite in a dry application with sand and under laboratory conditions.

Similarly, when shaft wear was considered, Vesconite shaft wear totalled 0.0025mm after a year, while the comparable phosphor bronze bushing showed wear of 0.0125mm.

Considering bushing wear and shaft wear, the Vesconite showed an increase in clearance of 0.02mm, while the phosphor bronze had an increase in clearance of 0.0625mm over the same period.

“One would expect that the wear rates would get worse in the second year and even worse in the third year,” advises Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel.

“In addition, in tough off-road conditions where the bushings are exposed to impact, there is likely to be much more wear than in a laboratory test environment,” he says, noting that one coal transporter has had to replace his phosphor bronze bushings four times a year, compared to once  a year with Vesconite.

Swanepoel points out that, while the bushing wear measurements seem small, these small changes in bushing sizing and shaft wear result in significant impacts for associated components, including tyres, which would be affected by poor alignment. Fuel costs would also increase if wheel alignment was out, he adds.

There would be similar cost implications if nylon bushings were used in preference to Vesconite ones, Swanepoel advises. The Vesconite self-aligning bushing showed far less wear than nylon self-aligning bushing, and there was also less wear to the shaft where the Vesconite bushing was used, he notes.

In the trailer manufacturer’s study, the nylon bushing showed 0.1325mm of wear over the one year period compared to wear of 0.0075mm for the Vesconite.

The same study showed shaft wear of 0.0125mm for nylon compared to 0.010mm of wear for the Vesconite bushing.

Once again, Swanepoel advises that harsh off-road conditions would make the comparative differences more extreme and that it is likely that nylon would perform even worse in non-laboratory conditions.

The impact on maintenance for associated equipment would also be more convincing, he says.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings, the leader in high-performance bearing polymers, has appointed four additional engineers as part of a drive to provide the best technical advice on the use of its products, announced Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, company CEO.

Additionally, the company intends to expand the range of applications in which its no-grease, hard-wearing, low-coefficient-of friction polymers can be used, he said.

New appointees Zané Easton and Monique Kooij are chemical engineers who will be responsible for rail and marine applications, respectively.

Meanwhile, appointees Conrad Penzhorn and Franco Swanepoel are mechanical engineers who will be responsible for transport and pump applications, respectively.

All of the engineers will be building Vesconite Bearings’ global customer bases and adding applications in their particular portfolio areas.

Vesconite Bearings’ extensive, globally-renowned machining capacity allows for the manufacture of precision-machined custom wear parts made from various polymers, as well as finished moulded products.

With a factory floor space of 20 000m2, Vesconite Bearings houses polymer compounding, extrusion and moulding shops in addition to its extensive machine shop.

The company makes rods, machined plates and bushings as stock parts, as well as high-quality finished parts for the agriculture, railways, mining, pumps, heavy transport, hydro, renewable, earthmoving and marine industries.

Vesconite Bearings boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube engineered polymer vanes have replaced a competitor’s product in the air motors of one UK manufacturer’s torque wrenches.

Vanes are essential to a torque-wrench rotary motor, as the necessary rotating element consists of a slotted rotor, fitted with free-sliding rectangular vanes, which create the rotational motion that drives the wrench when air passes over them.

Thus, when the torque wrench manufacturer became unhappy with vane delivery times and the torque rating of the existing supplier’s product, alternatives were sought for this important part of the torque wrench.

The torque wrench assembler was facing a 3-week delivery time for its original fine weave epoxy cotton vane slabs. The material sections that were delivered by the epoxy resin supplier also had to be machined by the assembler, adding to the vane production lead times.

The assembler was also facing lower torque ratings and higher wear than was acceptable.

This is when the assembler approached Vesconite Bearings to find out about its product range.

It was favourably impressed that hard-wearing self-lubricating engineered polymer Vesconite Hilube vanes could be delivered fully machined in two weeks, and that this would cut down having to wait for essential vane components.

In addition, after testing, the torque rating of the Vesconite Hilube ranged from 1150N/m to 1250N/m, and was well above the 1000N/m torque settings that are required for testing.

Some three years after the introduction of Vesconite Hilube vanes, the assembler is content with many of its important advantages.

“The vanes also last longer,” says Vesconite Bearings technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel.

“After 30,000 cycles, the vanes don’t show any wear,” he notes.

The torque wrenches are said to have accurate torque control as a result of their durable custom-designed air motor, which has all its components checked and tested to see that they can withstand the rigours of the torque motion.

The wrenches can be used on bolting applications, such as wheel nuts, axle and suspension components, engine head bolts, pipeline flanges and pressure vessels.

They can also be used on non-bolting applications, including valve operation and grinding, valving and devalving of gas bottles, and paper and steel mill roller adjustments.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings has contracted Bartholomews Specialist Distribution Ltd (Bartholomews) to warehouse and dispatch Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube engineered polymer rods and hollow bar from Bartholomews’ facility in Eastleigh, UK.

This is according to Vesconite Bearings UK champion Julian Fenn and CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, who note that Bartholomews is able to provide the required storage and shipment services.

Vesconite Bearings has had a storage and distribution facility in the UK for nine years.

Through this facility, it has supplied its low-friction no-grease polymer bushings and wear plate material to a growing UK client base.

Vesconite Bearings’ continued commitment to stockholding and distribution in the UK demonstrates the company’s resolve to have easily-accessible stock and good delivery times for this market.

Contact Fenn on +44 800 731 9745 to purchase Vesconite Bearings’ specialised engineering products in the UK.

 

 

Hydraulic steering systems and heavy seas can place enormous loads on a vessel’s rudder linkage, especially tiller arms and jockey bars. A bearing failure here means a loss of steerage, so metallic bushes need constant lubrication. This requires someone to go below to grease them—a dangerous and difficult task while underway. With massive load strength and dimensional stability, self-lubricating Vesconite is the safer solution for these specialized applications.

“It’s really dangerous to send someone down to lubricate bushes when the rudders are moving,” said Leandro Panzini, general manager of Buenos Aires, Argentina-based Ves-Arg SRL. “We have many tug and push boat customers who come to us with this safety issue. Once they switch to low-maintenance Vesconite, they’re very satisfied with the results.”

Vesconite doesn’t need lubricating, either by hand or an oiling system. Maintenance costs are greatly reduced—as is the potential for an accident. It doesn’t swell in water and runs wet or dry without any stick-slip.

Vesconite machines easily with tolerances of +/-0.001″. Long-lived, it offers up to ten times the useable life of bronze, even inside a dirty engine room. ISO 9001 accredited, it bears type approval certifications from ABS, Bureau Veritas, China Corporation Register of Shipping, DNV GL, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register.

 

 

Experienced polymer-products representative Gary Croeser has officially become the Vesconite Bearings representative in the US.

This was the announcement made by Vesconite Bearings chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger this month.

“Croeser has successfully managed the Vesconite Bearings Texas warehouse since 2004,” he said.

“I am very pleased to advise that we have now retained Croeser to play a more active role for sales of Vesconite in the United States,” he noted.

Vesconite Bearings will be increasing its stockholding of the polymers Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube in San Antonio, Texas, and its plan is to replenish the warehouse every two months.

As a start, Croeser has been tasked with calling lapsed customers in the USA who have not bought Vesconite since January 2018.

They will be specifically engaging with Texas-based companies, and particularly with those customers located in Lubbock, a global centre for pump manufacturing.

The new Vesconite Bearings US representative is knowledgeable about the polymer industry, having worked for many years in a sales executive capacity for Chemplast, which specialises in polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Besides being near to the market, and available to discuss sales requirements with customers in the same time zone, Croeser also has a good understanding of the US market.

“We see the US market is as a high-growth-potential market,” commented Leger.

“The US has a GDP of USD19-trillion, which represents 24% of the global economy,” he said.

 

 

Six Vesconite Superlube load pads that have been recovered from South African rail parastatal Transnet’s Sishen-Saldanha-line bogies show little wear after two years of use.

This is according to Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, the CEO of Vesconite Bearings, which makes the polymer load pads that are installed on railway bogies - the metal structures on which the rail wheels and axles are mounted and on which railway vehicles lie.

“What is interesting is that the samples are hardly worn at all,” he says.

“We see tiny areas where there is 0.1mm wear, but you can see the original machining marks and machine ridges on most of them.”

The Vesconite Superlube load pads have been specified for many years on Transnet’s iron-ore line locomotives, and replaced the original specified load pads that lacked sufficient load-carrying capacity and low-friction performance.

Load-carrying capacity is a particularly important criteria in selecting load pads, notes Leger.

The Vesconite Superlube load pads have been made from an engineered polymer with a compressive yield strength of 54MPa and a recommended design loading of up to 18MPa.

This means that they can effectively support the locomotives without distorting or breaking − which is a considerable advantage when a weight of 28t to 30t is distributed on each axle of each locomotive.

The low co-efficient of friction was another important criteria why Transnet’s 15E locomotive designers chose Vesconite Superlube, says Leger.

The engineered polymer was developed with this particularly in mind, and the development process resulted in the polymer exhibiting a static friction co-efficient (dry on polished steel) and a dynamic friction co-efficient (dry on polished steel) of 0.06, he notes.

This was particularly important because of the nature of the Sishen-Saldanha track.

This 861-km-long iconic heavy-haul iron-ore transportation route is largely straight but has ten crossing loops that trains travelling in one direction move into to allow full coast-bound trains, moving in the opposite direction, to pass where necessary.

These loops all lie on the one side of the track, and this results in very little turning motion along the length of the track, except at these very particular points.

What was experienced prior to the introduction of Vesconite Superlube load pads was that the locomotive wheel sets tended to run out of alignment when coming out of a curve and, due to the straightness of the track, the wheel sets remained out of alignment for considerable distances. This, in turn, resulted in track and wheel wear.

While an authoritative study has not presented the exact savings that resulted from the introduction of Vesconite Superlube, estimated savings are considerable.

Consider that, prior to the introduction of the Vesconite Superlube load pads, the bogie frame sometimes swivelled out of the bolster, and bogie wheel sets sometimes didn’t return to their original position for hundreds of kilometres.

With the train in the forward-drive position, this would have resulted in wear to the number 1 and 11 wheels, while other wheels would be subject to wear in the reverse position.

While various mechanical means, including packing under the springs, could be used to equalise the wheel load and keep the bogie height the same, ultimately wheel cutting would be required to ensure that the wheel diameters were equalised.

On many tracks, wheel life is reduced to a fraction of the intended life of six years, which they are designed for, as a result of frequent wheel cutting.

With costs of R40,000 a wheel, or R80,000 a wheel set, the cost to associated equipment can be considerable if the incorrect load pad is used, warns Leger

When the cost of wear to the track is included, the financial benefits of using the Vesconite Superlube load pads can add up to a considerable sum, he says.

 

 

With a downwind sail area of over 4,600 sq. ft. and a top speed well over 20 knots, the Gunboat 66 is a boat where components simply cannot bind. That’s why when Slim was refitted in 2015, Vesconite was used as the rudder and daggerboard trunk bearing material. The ultra-low friction polymer has performed flawlessly in over 20,000 ocean nautical miles.

Internally lubricated Vesconite is engineered for high compression strength and dimensional stability. This makes it perfect for the extreme loads a 34,000 lb. boat can place on its foils.

In 2015, Slim’s daggerboards were replaced with longer versions that are better supported by the low-friction Vesconite bearings at the deck and lower exit. Combined with a reduced chord, the extra 3.5′ make them far more efficient with an improved lift to drag ratio. For details of the refit: Read more

“The Vesconite has been flawless,” said Travis McGarry, Slim’s charter captain. “They’re still performing as new and I’d like to use it again just to get a tighter tolerance.” Vesconite has exceptional wear properties and can be machined to tolerances of +/-0.001″.

A 66′ all-carbon fiber performance ocean cruising catamaran, Slim sleeps six in three staterooms, all with en-suite baths, flat screen TVs and air conditioning. Currently in Spain, it is heading to the Caribbean this November.

 

 

Self-lubricated polymer bearings and bushes manufacturer Vesconite Bearings will next month add three computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres to its machine shop.

Among the equipment added will be a Mazak slant turn lathe with a C axis, a Gate ECL 550 gap bed lathe and a Haas HS-1 horizontal machining centre.

“We are excited to be adding these machines to our machine shop,” says Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“We want to have additional capacity to allow for our ambitious growth targets.”

The machines are similar to existing equipment that Vesconite Bearings has on hand but have been purchased to ensure that the company has an additional 10% capacity to ramp up its production by ten times in the next ten years.

This is in line with the company’s objective to gain 10% of the world market share of the type of niche polymers that the company produces, thereby increasing sales by ten times within ten years, says Leger.

The company’s extensive machining capacity, which will increase to 70 machines next month, is well regarded globally and allows the company to manufacture precision machined custom wear parts made out of various polymers as well as finish moulded products.

Vesconite Bearings has a factory floor space of 20,000m2, and its factory includes polymer compounding, extrusion and moulding shops in addition to its extensive machine shop.

The company makes rods, machined plates and bushings as stock parts, as well as high-quality finished parts for the agriculture, railways, mining, pump, heavy transport, hydro, renewable, earthmoving and marine industries.

The polymer bushings and wear-materials manufacturer prides itself on fast production, turnaround and delivery, with an average global delivery time, using various courier companies with global experience, of three to seven working days.

The company also focuses significantly on training and skills development, and is currently mentoring 23 young people as part of its apprenticeship programmes.

Vesconite Bearings boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.

 

 

When the stern tube bearing on the 490′ x 75′ container ship M/V Marine Rickmers began to fail, South Africa-based Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH South Africa) replaced it with state-of-the-art, pollution-free Vesconite. The innovative self-lubricating polymer is far superior to oil-lubricated lignum vitae, white metal and composite bearings, especially with the implementation of ever more stringent environmental regulations.

Vesconite doesn’t swell in water and machines to +/-0.001″, so tight tolerances are always ensured. It has high compression strength and dimensional stability, and no stick-slip. Long-lived, it delivers up to ten times the useable life of bronze, even in dirty, silty harbor water.

The bush for the Marine Rickmers is 500mm x 422mm x 600mm long, but Vesconite can supply environmentally sound 1,300mm and longer stern tube bearings. The polymer is ISO 9001 accredited and bears type approval certifications from ABS, Bureau Veritas, China Corporation Register of Shipping, DNV GL, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register.

“The shipping industry is getting greener every day,” said Eddie Swanepoel, Vesconite technical sales consultant. “Converting from an oil lubrication system to self-lubricating Vesconite makes environmental sense.”

 

 

The Australian agent of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube continues to supply the company that first proved Vesconite’s suitability for pump applications.

VescoPlastics Australia technical expert Robert Egginton supplies the pump company with 40 to 80 bushings each year.

These end up in various pumps that this Australian branch of a global pump company uses in repairs or for unique applications, including models of different sizes employed in a variety of conditions.

Egginton, who is part of a family-owned enterprise, notes that his father first started experimenting with pump bushings made of the polymer Vesconite in the 1980s.

When a pump company approached Vesco Plastics Australia P/L and stated that it was investigating changing over from bronze and asbestos-based bushings, Vesconite became one of the 18 materials that was bench tested in challenging conditions to determine which bushing material could survive in highly-abrasive conditions.

The pump company discovered that Vesconite performed best and lasted the longest of all the bushing materials tested.

“Whereas the material that it had been using lasted three to six months, the Vesconite lasted significantly longer,” says Egginton.

“This is why the material continues to be used in the pump company’s pumps in mines, boreholes and in waste water management.”

 

 

Vesconite has introduced Vesconite Hilube and Superlube 3D printer bushings as stock items.

Printer users can now replace bronze sleeve bushings or linear ball bearings with these high-wearing alternatives.

These are supplied in Vesconite Hilube (a low-friction polymer) or in Superlube (an ultra-low-friction polymer).

Initially, three of the most common 3D bushing sizes will be available, namely:

• LM8UU – 15mm (OD) x 8mm (ID) x 24mm (length);
• LM8LUU – 15mm (OD) x 8mm (ID) x 45mm (length); and
• LM12UU – 21mm (OD) x 12mm (ID) x 30mm (length).

“We chose these bushings, since these are the most common bushings used globally,” says marketing, sales and mechanical development engineer Juan van Wyk.

“However, we were cognisant of the fact that there are many different printer models on the market,” he adds, noting that, while Vesconite Hilube and Superlube are self-lubricating, the stock bearings are supplied with a dual radial internal groove design to allow for a grease reservoir if preferred.

While other sizes are not kept as stock items, custom bushings can quickly and easily be made with a choice of axial, radial or spiral internal grooves, as well as custom lengths and diameters to accommodate unique housings and shafts.

 

 

Vanes made of the bearing polymer Hitemp 150 have lasted three times as long as traditional vanes in servicing company Septic Tanks (Pty) Ltd’s vacuum rotary pump, a Broom B35.

Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Phillip de Villiers recommended Hitemp 150, an engineered polymer that is wear resistant and can withstand temperatures of up to 150ºC.

This material will not delaminate as does the original-equipment-manufacturer supplied material, a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin that impregnates layers of cotton to produce a hard synthetic plastic, he reasoned.

The trial result has been impressive: Hitemp 150 did not delaminate unlike its competitor and it was resistant to overheating.

In addition, the new polymer vanes coped well with the frequent pump cleans that were required when waste material accidentally entered the pump.

Septic Tanks (Pty) Ltd owner Charl Neuhof is also pleased that the Hitemp 150 vanes continue to operate after a year and a half, while the phenolic alternative had to be replaced after six months.

Moreover, he is enthusiastic about the reduced maintenance costs that are associated with the product, which can be cleaned in-situ unlike the previous variety of vanes that had to be removed prior to cleaning because of their high levels of swelling when exposed to water.

 

 

A graphite shortage has meant that manufacturers of submersible motors and pumps are switching to impact and wear-resistant Vesconite bearings.

Vesconite technical sales representative Eddie Swanepoel informs that he has received enquiries for the switch from carbon graphite to Vesconite for sleeve and thrust bearings and mechanical seals for submersible motors and for line-shaft bushings and wear rings for submersible pumps.

This follows what clients describe as a global shortage of six grades of carbon graphite, including those impregnated with resin, white metal, bronze and antimony, which are produced by manufacturers as tubes, rods, sheets and finished machined items.

The demand for carbon graphite has increased dramatically as a result of its use in battery applications, and particularly as a result of the increase in the production of electrical cars.

This has been a boon for Vesconite Bearings, which is keen to match prices and replace carbon in various applications.

Vesconite has many advantages over carbon graphite including that it is easier and more economical to machine. While carbon graphite needs to be produced in a strictly controlled environment, requires lapping and polishing to ensure smoothness, and needs to be glued and baked to adhere to components, Vesconite has no such requirements.

In addition, the low coefficient of friction of Vesconite means that the inclusion of Vesconite components in motors and pumps will result in energy savings.

“Many of the enquiries that we have received this year and last have come from India,” says Swanepoel.

He believes that India is playing an increased role in the global supply of submersible motors and pumps as a result of a closer relationship with the US in the last few months.

 

 

Norwegian innovator Kent Thoresen, of 9axis AS, is trialling Vesconite Hilube sleeve bushings as part of an endeavour to create more robust, reliable and smoother-operating 3D printers.

Around nine years ago Thoresen started 3D printing of various parts for projects he was involved in, and via this involvement became aware of several key weaknesses in open-source 3D printer designs. From here he started redesigning and refining his own 3D printer design.

Friends, and friends of friends soon began requesting his improved designs, and over the years he has produced around 200 printers for acquaintances.

His current 3D printer design is stiff and dependable and a marked improvement over the low-cost flimsier designs currently available. Robust and technically solid, it doesn’t require calibration if the plates are moved, unlike many commercially-available designs.

Thoresen’s current trial also involves the use of Vesconite Hilube bushings to improve 3D printer robustness.

The Vesconite bushings are currently undergoing a final leg of testing, with the aim to eventually provide an open source design to printer enthusiasts at no charge.

 

 

When cycling enthusiast Willem Goosen noticed in a service that the cogset on his bike’s rear wheel – known as the rear freewheel – had quite a bit of play, he decided to make his own smaller lubrication-free Vesconite bushing.

“I decided on Vesconite as it has all the characteristics that I required,” says Goosen. He requested the bushing from South African manufacturer Vesconite Bearings, which makes the polymer that doesn’t require lubrication, does not swell in water, has low resistance and requires low maintenance.

Goosen’s do-it-yourself bushing solution resulted in significant savings since, typically, a new freewheel body would have been required if a standard OEM bush was required.

In addition, since there was wear to the hub, a repair with OEM parts would have required the replacement of the hub, since wear had resulted in too much play for a standard OEM bearing to be employed.

“The Vesconite bush is still in a good state. No excessive wear has been noticed,” says Goosen.

“It has done over 10,000km since installation and only removed twice for cleaning and lubrication.”

Goosen started fitness cycling in 2009, and he is an active social cyclist, training five or six days a week.

Goosen has completed several South African cycle races, including multiple completions of the world’s largest individually-timed cycling race, the 109km Cape Town Cycle tour, which is the first non-European event to be included in the Union Cycliste Internationale’s Golden Bike Series.

 

 

As part of an initiative to ensure that its machined components are produced to specification for clients, Vesconite Bearings has invested in quality-control equipment as well as software dedicated to inputing and recording machined component measurements.

The new quality-control equipment includes electronic vernier callipers, micrometers and height gauges that will assist to measure the length, outside diameter, inside diameter and wall thickness of bushings and machined components, where these were measured exclusively through mechanical means and read off by a skilled quality-control expert in the past.

Electronic measurements are regarded as more accurate and an important way in which the consistency of machined parts can be ensured, says chairperson Jean Patrick Leger.

Electronic measurement also allows quality controllers to combine temperature measurement with metrology. Measured sizes can change with temperature, and can differ if the country of origin has substantially different weather conditions to the country in which a component will be used. As a result, it is important to note the conditions under which the component conforms to specifications, and adjust for new conditions if necessary.

In addition, the new measurement technique allows measurement to be carried out in the shop shortly after machining. This ensures that machining operations that are tending to go out-of-spec can be quickly identified and adjustments made to machining equipment before any material is wasted.

The intention is to use the latest metrology standards, provide traceable error-free measurement records, increase the quality and consistency of machined parts, and reduce wastage due to late correction of inaccurately set manufacturing equipment.

 

 

Some 600 graves have been dug in the Luveve and West Park Cemeteries, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, using 428E Caterpillar Tractor Loader Backhoes (TLBs) fitted with Vesconite self-lubricating wear-resistant polymer bushings on the boom pivot pin.

This is according to Replants Africa’s Doug Bawden, who rents earthmoving and capital equipment to various companies, including to the Bulawayo City Council.

The 428Es are good for grave digging as they don’t require a truck to transport them between sites.

They have a variable displacement hydraulic pump that makes the machine more fuel efficient, and quicker when digging compared to a lot of other TLBs that use a gear type pump.

However, grave digging is not easy and the equipment can take a beating depending on the soil type.

Bawden explains that, in sandy-clay soil, there is an approximately 400-500mm-thick crust, which can be difficult to get through.

This can result in the entire back of the machine lifting off the ground when trying to penetrate this layer.

“In this instance the Vesconite bushes are taking the full force of lifting the machine off the ground,” says Bawden.

Where mild-steel-backed bronze or brass bushings had been used on the boom pivot pin, located where the boom connects onto the machine through the swing frame, “they ooze out like grease”, he notes.

“By some unexplainable miracle, the Vesconite does not,” adds Bawden.

“I am still trying to understand how a plastic can take a load that large and not displace when steel does,” he says.

Bawden machined the bushings that have been fitted to the two TLBs that are used for grave digging.

The polymer bushings measured approximately 65mm (internal diameter) x 75mm (external diameter) x 260mm (length).

 

 

Polymer bushings and wear material producer Vesconite will be visiting Italian pump manufacturers in early June to introduce the companies to Vesconite’s bushings and wear rings that are used globally to increase the operating life of vertical turbine, canister and sump pumps.

Vesconite intends to visit eight companies in one week, and will travel from the south to the north of the country to establish relationships with pump companies, offer prototype testing and answer technical queries.

“Italy is an important location for pump and valve businesses,” reports Phillip de Villiers, who is championing sales to the pump industry in Europe.

Vesconite is committed to expanding its presence in Europe and sees the outward-focused Mediterranean country as an important one in which to establish itself.

Vesconite has translated its pumps manual and its industrial design manual into Italian in preparation for the trip.

 

 

Founded by Alain Leger, an entrepreneurial engineer, Vesconite started in response to a need for an alternative to nylon bushings, which swelled and seized in humid underground mines. Years of testing resulted in a thermopolymer that had exceptionally low friction properties and could be machined to close tolerances. Steady, controlled corporate growth led to an international enterprise that never lost its commitment to and roots in the small town of Virginia, South Africa.

As a tribute to the community that has supported it since its beginning, VescoPlastics has built the Two Friends Wing addition to the Meloding Day Care Centre, doubling its size. “With its careful design and inspirational architecture, this new building turned out more significant than I had expected,” said Dr. Jean-Patrick Leger, CEO. “It provides a model of what classrooms for preschool children can be, at a time when there is such a need for early education and attention to higher standards.” Meloding refers to an area where people of color were forced to live during the apartheid era.

Throughout its 60 years of manufacturing, VescoPlastics has been deeply committed to education at all levels. In 2017, the Steel, Engineering and Iron Federation of South Africa awarded the company first prize for the best artisan training in the country. One of the largest employers in the area, apprentices and work candidates comprise 44% of its workforce. “In 2016, the number of people in the South African manufacturing sector totaled 1.19M,” noted Leger. “If the same steps we have applied in our company were used across the country, half a million apprentices would be preparing to enter the workforce.”

 

 

Vesconite Bearings’ Christian Brumloop, has been carrying out testing of Vesconite Hilube bushings on a 3D printer, convinced that 3D printing will revolutionise the manufacturing industry and that Vesconite Bearings needs to be at the forefront of 3D-printer-component and filament supply.

While the latter is still under investigation, Brumloop has shown that Vesconite Hilube bushings are well suited to 3D printers.

Brumloop notes that he has installed ten self-lubricating hard-wearing Vesconite Hilube bushings on the test unit and that they work well.

“The noise reduction is huge. The printer sounds completely different. So much better,” he enthuses.

Brumloop has ensured that the calibration of the extruder is perfect and is satisfied with his printed parts ― which is high praise from someone who is a veteran expert on moulding of polymer components.

 

 

A recent trip to Spanish pump manufacturers has resulted in several large orders of Vesconite bushing material.

“This month we received orders for considerable sums,” Phillip de Villiers, who is spearheading Vesconite’s European pumps business.

“One company ordered stock material of extra-large bushings that it will machine into wear rings for its own use, while another ordered bushing material to machine into bushings for its original-equipment-manufacturer pumps.”

De Villiers, together with European branch head Matthew Davey and company Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, visited four large Spanish pump companies in late March 2018.

These companies were located throughout Spain, so the visit involved travel from Valencia, in the south of the country, through to Bilbao, in the north of the country.

“The Spanish pump industry is sizeable and the companies we visited serve both the local Spanish market and the global market,” De Villiers comments.

“The companies appreciated our input and our assistance with technical enquiries. They were also impressed that our CEO visited and was able to provide additional insight into our bushings and how they would prolong the life of pumps.”

The Spanish companies were enthusiastic about the use of the low-friction self-lubricating polymer Vesconite Hilube in various pumps, and spoke passionately about their production of vertical turbine pumps for Spanish desalination plants, among other projects.

De Villiers is excited about the results from the March Spanish visit, which builds on a previous successful visit to Spanish pump manufacturers in July 2017.

 

 

South African self-lubricated polymer-bushing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings will have its polymer bearing materials, Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, on display at the Caltex Hall at Nampo, South Africa’s largest agricultural exhibition, in May.

Its polymer bearings are valued by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers for being self-lubricating, wear resistant and useful in tough agricultural applications characterised by grit, mud and water.

Their display at Nampo is seen as a recognition that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bearings are important products to have displayed at South Africa’s largest agricultural expo, where role-players in the farming industry seek solutions to challenges that they face.

Vesconite Bearings’ factory in Virginia produces rods, hollow bar and wear plates for the agriculture and other industries, and also machines bushings and wear components to specification for the industry.

The company also provides extensive machining services and has the largest machine shop in the Free State, with 60 computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres, and numerous large conventional lathes that are capable of machining bushings up to 3000 mm in diameter.

Vesconite Bearings has warehouses in Johannesburg, Texas, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore.

The company boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.

 

 

An Australian agricultural equipment manufacturer has switched from oil-impregnated nylon bushings to Vesconite Hilube polymer ones on the hydraulic tynes that it manufactures for seeding machines.

The Vesconite Hilube polymer is valued by farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers for being a self-lubricating, wear resistant polymer, which is widely used in tough agricultural applications characterised by grit, mud and water.

With seeder tynes being the teeth that cut through the soil during seeding, their exposure to harsh wear conditions is significant.

OptiAg Systems director Peter Hills explains that there are up to 80 or more hydraulic tynes on a seeding machine. These allow for seeds to be planted at the correct depth so that seeds have better access to moisture and nutrients.

Speaking about the introduction of Vesconite Hilube bushings to his tynes, Hills says: “I believe it to be a superior product to the oil-impregnated nylon we have been using”.

“As grain growers ourselves, we are looking for the best product for use. We want to provide our clients with the best possible product as well.”

OptiAg will be testing the lifespan of the Vesconite Hilube bushings as compared to the oil-impregnated nylon bushings and expects that, although there are higher upfront costs associated with the Vesconite Hilube bushings, the longer life and the lower maintenance requirements will show the Vesconite Hilube bushings to be a superior product.

 

 

Published in Business Day – 14 March 2018
Co-authored by Vesconite Bearings Chairman, Dr Jean-Patrick Leger

Before SA lapses back into business as usual, it is worth returning briefly to that heady moment two weeks ago, when new President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his state of the nation address to Parliament. In the speech, Ramaphosa disclosed plans for a summit to seek practical solutions and new initiatives for job creation, especially for the youth.

This was put forward within the framework of an ambitious vision of reindustrialising the country “on a scale that draws millions of job-seekers into the economy”.

It has always been challenging for the private sector to find new ways of working with the government and labour to achieve larger goals when many businesses do not regard those goals as part of their purview, particularly when businesses often feel under attack by the government.

This may explain the reluctance to come forward with new ideas. Businessmen are often concerned that whatever new ideas that emerge from the government will lead to more problems and complexities.

But if the anger ignited by the debate on land expropriation without compensation has shown anything, it is that there is an expectation that the new regime will bring meaningful change to people’s lives by challenging the economic status quo.

If business does not want to surrender ground to the populists, it should start imagining how it can contribute to a more just and equal society. Just as at Dunkirk, when a flotilla of small boats crossed the English Channel to bring home the British soldiers trapped on the beaches of France, so the country’s manufacturers can take the initiative and bring home an army of artisans and skilled workers that will be needed for the next battle: the reindustrialisation of SA.

Unlike the troops at Dunkirk, SA is not engaged in a world war, but it is embroiled in a profound crisis. Unemployment and despair, while hardly touching the enclaves of privilege, is corrosive and unsustainable. More than 6-million South Africans are unemployed, and youth unemployment remains stubbornly above 50%. Of those who are employed, many are trapped in dead-end, low-skilled jobs.

The arguments around free higher education have obscured the equally critical need for training of young people for skilled blue-collar jobs. Any implication that there is only one route to gainful employment and a decent lifestyle leaves out those who are less academically inclined. The many who do not go to university are the most economically marginalised and many despair of finding any way to escape poverty.

Apprentice and learnership schemes are a means by which youth with little work experience can gain essential experience and theoretical knowledge for job entry. The tally of apprentices is small compared with the number of students enrolled at public higher education institutions — about 112,000 apprentices compared with 620,000 university students (excluding 400,000 enrolled at Unisa) — and they are often overlooked in discussions about transforming education.

Yet SA is faced simultaneously with high unemployment and an enormous skills shortage, one that will ensure that the reindustrialisation that Ramaphosa advocates will be stymied before it starts. There is a way to deal with this conundrum that does not lay the full burden at the door of the government. It is what we call the one-for-three solution. One of us (Leger) runs a small manufacturing company in the Free State and has adopted a policy of actively training young people — in practice one apprentice or learner for every three permanent staff members.

If all SA’s manufacturer employers followed a one-for-three approach, we could train hundreds of thousands of South Africans in the much-needed practical skills that will help jumpstart the economy. Manufacturing and mining combined employ about 1.6-million permanent workers.

If state-owned enterprises and government technical and engineering services on all levels — including the municipalities — are included, the one-for-three solution could generate up to 1-million newly skilled workers into the formal economy.

The solution would build on existing programmes, some of which have stalled, and would need to be fleshed out in consultation with the government, the unions, companies big and small and the technical training institutions. It is also time for the private sector and the government to engage the universities — especially the science, technology, engineering and maths faculties — to see how some of their graduates can be absorbed into on-the-job training programmes.

Some of these discussions may take place at the president’s job summit, where we will present our proposal in detail. Critically, this national apprenticeship and learnership programme would have to be a good-faith effort to train those who would otherwise not be employed, and not an attempt to displace union labour with lower-paid interns. There could be a rewarding negotiation around preferential procurement and additional incentives for businesses that participate in the programme, which would be voluntary.

We will continue to emphasise that skills training is not just a door to opportunity for the disadvantaged or a means of dealing with the scourge of youth unemployment. It is also a necessary requirement for equipping SA with a competitive workforce capable of delivering the more prosperous future that we are striving to achieve.

The global economy is changing, and the cheap labour force that industrialised SA the first time can no longer be the country’s crutch. Competitive industrialisation in this highly technological age is taking place in the global “brain belts” and if SA aims to compete it has to build an army of skilled and semiskilled workers.

The mining sector, long the mainstay of the South African economy, is on the upswing and the shortage of skilled workers is already being felt. Any thought of taking the mining sector forward into the new technological age, where SA long held a competitive edge, is a nonstarter without a complete revision of how SA trains and equips its workers.

Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address was widely praised, but was also criticised by some for being short on detail and hard policy decisions. This is not surprising given the fact that he had to deliver the speech within one day of becoming president. But it is also because it is up to society to fill in many of the blanks.

Most importantly, it is incumbent upon manufacturing employers to make their contribution to overcoming economic stagnation and inspiring hope by building the workforce of the future.

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2018-03-14-manufacturers-can-reprise-dunkirk-by-delivering-army-of-young-artisans/

 

 

Vesconite has appointed Guenter Lorenz as its new German Strategic Account Manager. Company CEO Dr Jean-Patrick Leger made the announcement.

Lorenz has a background in business development, marketing and sales, and has previously worked for Canadian, Indian and European firms interested in expanding their European contribution to sales.

Lorenz’s key focus area will be in the pumps sector, but he will also look at growing the use of Vesconite in European agriculture and rail applications, among other applications. His duties will encompass new business development, sales and customer support.

The thermoplastic polymer Vesconite is self-lubricating and hard-wearing. As such, it is regarded as a quality maintenance-reducing product with a long lifespan. In addition, since it does not need any special tools for installation and removal, it is regarded as service friendly.

Hollow bar, solid rod and plate shapes are offered in a wide range of dimensions and thicknesses, and are available for immediate shipment from the company’s EU warehouse. Machined parts can also be ordered to customer specifications.

 

 

We are pleased to announce that Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube stock shapes (rods, bushing & plates) will now be stocked in Cape Town and available for same day dispatch with Skynet.

Orders over R1200 will be delivered free of charge. A delivery fee of R100 will be charged for orders less than a R1200.

Please place your orders directly with VescoPlastics in Virginia or Johannesburg by emailing:

Johannesburg – 011 616 1111 or Virginia – 057 212 0000. Email: vesconite@vesconite.com

This is a new service that will save you time and money. We have a vast stock range available ready for immediate dispatch.

 

 

A company specialising in pumping equipment continues to use rock drill machinery fitted with bushings made from Hitemp 150, Vesconite’s temperature and wear resistant, internally lubricated polymer.

The drill bushings are exposed to high temperature and pressure, as well as water, resulting in significant stress, which the previous bushing materials succumbed to within two weeks.

Not so with Hitemp 150, which reduced bushing replacement intervals to only four times per year. A significant cost saving in downtime on machinery resulted.

Late last year, Vesconite produced over 4200 bushing for the company, which has been manufacturing the rock drills successfully for the past 10 years.

Vesconite continues to develop Hitemp 150 and products that are specifically designed to cope with extraordinary operating conditions.

 

 

Talk on adventures and challenges in overcoming wear

Vesconite Bearings Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger has been invited as the guest speaker at the South African Institute of Tribology’s AGM. His talk will cover bushing polymers and wear material and is entitled “Adventures in Wear: From Underground Gold Mines to Desert Railways to Ocean Floors”.

“In a day we may review bearing production requirements for deep mines and mills, seek grease free solutions for construction plant and transport equipment, provide oil free bearings for small irrigation pumps or half-kilometre-long deep well pumps, focus on solving rail/wheel wear on locomotives and rail wagons, offer solutions to reduce the number of dry-dockings of container ships, or to make racing yachts move faster, or develop longer life bearings for underwater turbines and remote operated vessels working on the ocean floors,” says Leger.

“Each day provides adventures and challenges in overcoming wear,” he notes.

Best known for Vesconite, its brand of plain bearings and bushings, Vesconite Bearings today has customers in over 100 countries on five continents.

Date: 15th May 2018
Time: 18h00 – 18h30
Venue: Science Park, 1 Northway, Kelvin, Johannesburg, South Africa

For further information:
Email: vesconite@vesconite.com
Phone: +27 11 616 1111

 

 

15 Years ago, a South Africa vegetable farming enterprise fitted two of its borehole pumps with custom-designed Vesconite spiders.

These spiders function as supports to centralize the pump shafts, which reach to a depth of nearly 80m below the ground surface. The Spiders have an outer diameter of 100mm with a shaft of one inch, with 8mm radiating spokes – which create a spider like appearance.

Pumping up to two million liters of irrigation water per day, the pumps original bronze spiders were removed, as they were deemed too heavy, likely to wear, and have a possibility of being stolen for resale when the pumps were removed for servicing.

The Vesconite spiders are still functioning without fault after all these years. According to farm owner Roland Gaberthuel, the Vesconite parts are likely to outlive the pumps themselves. Proof that Vesconite was the ideal material for this hard working and demanding application.

 

 

A South African insulation company with insulation contracts at 18 sites has opted to replace its trolley wheel bushings with Vesconite.

The company has many on-site maintenance contracts that involve the production and installation of specialised thermal insulation and cladding.

Where the installation site is far from the storage site, trolleys are used to move cladding materials.

Polyvinyl chloride wheel bushings were used previously but, following the replacement with Vesconite, the wheels last 10 times longer, says a company representative.

The trolleys, some of them measuring 1,5m by 5m, are necessary to carry considerable loads.

Vesconite, a hard-wearing thermopolymer designed for challenging operating conditions, has demonstrated its ability to carry these loads with little wear.

The trolleys that it is fitted to are used all over South Africa, including on South Africa’s mines, which require insulation and cladding for their refrigeration and acid plants.

 

 

Vesconite Hilube is traditionally known for its superior performance in difficult operating environments. particularly moist and underwater applications, such as found in the pump and marine industries.

Woodwind instrument maker Guy Cowley has, however, found another novel use for the material.

“I had been searching for a strong alternative to ivory to use on the knee joint of my basset horns,” says Cowley of the replica basset horns he produces in the style of 18th-century European instrument maker Theodor Lotz.

Cowley was originally drawn to Hilube’s pleasant aesthetic qualities – the polymer is smooth and warm to the touch. However, he quickly discovered it was also extremely hard wearing, not easily scuffed and highly suited to his craft.

He has been using Hilube successfully for the past six years.

While Vesconite Hilube offers a viable alternative to ivory in this niche application, Vesconite – with its charcoal matt finish – is finding use elsewhere as an ebony substitute.

Watch this space…

 

 

If you thought you had to get your endorphin fix in a sweaty indoor environment filled with unsightly Lycra, think again. The outdoor gym craze has finally hit South Africa, with increasingly sophisticated gym park equipment popping up in trendy urban hotspots. And, with this new fitness phenomenon comes specialised bushing demands that can withstand not only heavy human use, but nature’s elements.

Jonathan van Biljon, of Lani Service Centre in Johannesburg, demonstrates how the company is using Vesconite bushings to good effect in its robust fitness equipment.

Van Biljon’s company started manufacturing outdoor gym equipment four years ago, in response to a need from park authorities, truck stops, mining companies and residential estates – all eager to provide gym facilities in a natural setting.

Various gym equipment designs were rejected, including designs with screw-in bolts, as it was found that scrap metal seekers simply unscrewed the bolts and made off with the metal components.

Metal bushings and a competitor’s plastic bushings were also rejected when it was discovered that the gym equipment became difficult to operate over time and eventually seized in response to corrosion and a lack of lubrication.

Vesconite gradually emerged as the answer to Lani Service Centre’s problem, given it self-lubricating properties and ability to withstand whatever the elements threw at it.

The manufacturing process was tweaked further by injecting a small amount of grease on the bushing during assembly, together with a pin through the bushing and an outer steel sleeve with a washer at the end, which was welded to the counter metal beam, thereby serving as a deterrent to would-be scrap metal thieves.

Outdoor gym facilities are likely to become ever more popular as a means to improve fitness, encourage community building and general health by providing a cost-effective alternative to traditional gyms. Vesconite is thrilled to be part of this trend.

 

 

A production line can only move as fast as the parts used to support it, whether it’s a conveyor system, a belt, or a sorting bin. A recent case study highlights this.

After a temporary shutdown to improve production and maintenance, Johannesburg-based laminating and coating factory, Arthur Dowson, decided to replace Teflon and nylon with Vesconite Hilube support bearings. Vesconite Hilube has a lower friction coefficient and requires less lubrication compared to nylon.

The polymer bearings’ friction coefficient (0.10) is less than half that of nylon. This allows for a higher PV factor (load × speed). Adding external lubrication or water to the equation will lower friction even further, and the resultant PV factor. It also has a much higher load capacity compared to nylon and Teflon.

According to Vesconite Bearings mechanical engineer Juan van Wyk, the decision to use the Vesconite plain support bearing design was two-fold: simpler removal and resultant easier operation, as well as easy cleaning and maintenance – Vesconite is resistant to many acids and alkalis, including acetone, paraffin, and turpentine.

Arthur Dowson maintenance manager Roy Rodgers reports that the material coating company lubricated the previous support bearings to reduce wear, and is likely to continue doing so with the Vesconite replacement. Wear issues become particularly important on the support bearings at the end of the production line, as the coupling of the drive-end attachment and material shaft require tight tolerances.

The company is confident Vesconite’s introduction to the workflow will extend the life of the fabrication line and minimize future maintenance cycles.

 

 

No-grease, no swell Vesconite bushings will be on display at four expos in the next two months.

Learn more about Vesconite rudders and stern tubes, and on-deck applications at:

  • Stand G10 at the Navegistic Paraguay Marine Show, October 4th to 6th
  • Stand 6413 at Europort Rotterdam, November 7th to 10th
  • Booth 07.330 at METS Amsterdam, November 14th to 16th
  • Booth 1205 at Workboat New Orleans, November 29th to December 1st

Vesconite’s bushings outperform in many marine applications because they are dimensionally stable, have tight tolerances, close clearances and are easy to machine. 

Vesconite is approved by most of the ship classification societies, including the American Bureau of Shipping; Biro Klasifikasi Indonesia; Bureau Veritas; China Classification Society; China Corporation Register of Shipping; Det Norske Veritas; Germanischer Lloyd; Korean Register of Shipping; Lloyd’s Register and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. 

Contact Leandro Panzini (vesconite@vesconite.com) to discuss Vesconite bushings at Navegistic.
Sharon Mc Ardle (vesconite@vesconite.com) and Matthew Davey (vesconite@vesconite.com) to meet at Europort, METS or Workboat.

 

 

Marine bushing emergencies in South America can now be easily dealt with by ordering XL marine bushings that are available for immediate dispatch from Buenos Aires, Argentina, from this week.

The bushings, which are widely used in the marine industry as rudder bushings and stern tubes, are made of Vesconite, a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered polymer that is also dimensionally stable in water.

The polymer bushings are ideal for the submerged and corrosive conditions found in the marine industry. They are easily removed and refitted, saving in costly downtime. They also are resistant to oils and fuels and do not delaminate or distort under high loads.

Over the past 50 years, hundred of industrial and leisure marine applications ‒ from yachts to supertankers ‒ have been equipped with Vesconite bushings. The bushings have been particularly enthusiastically received by the marine industry in South America, and are valued for their ability to withstand the tough and abrasive conditions found in the subcontinent’s inland waterways. They have also been widely accepted by container ships entering South American waters, having been certified by most of the large ship classification societies.

 

 

South African hydraulics solutions provider Rite Hydraulics has advised heavy equipment users to plug up their greasing points and switch to Vesconite bushings on the pins on hydraulic cylinder rod clevises.

The rod and base clevises are the mounting sections of the hydraulic cylinder. They yoke to the piece of machinery that is required to be moved by hydraulic means and, as such, the good working order of the pins and associated bushings is necessary for the hydraulic movement.

However, hydraulic solutions are often employed in conditions where dust and grit are common, including on front-end loaders and tipper trucks that are used in mines and industrial sites and, where these applications use bronze bushings and grease, a grinding paste is formed that wears down bronze bushings.

It is better to use Vesconite without lubrication so that the bushings last much longer, reports MD Andre Jacobs.

Rite Hydraulics supplies hydraulic solutions to a range of industries including plants, foundries, steel manufacturing, railway repair and crane hire companies.

The company has been replacing hard bushings with Vesconite bushings since 2009, and says that clients report extended life with the Vesconite bushings.

 

 

An Australian company that specialises in both on-site and off-site pump refurbishment is finding that energy efficiency is an important driver in its refurbishment packages – and has included Vesconite bushings as part of its energy-reducing refurbishment package.

FITT Resources’ Daniel Hechter says that electricity costs in Australia, at 25+ AUS c/kWh, are among the highest costs globally.

As a result, when the company retrofits 30 to 35-year-old pumps, besides increasing the life of a pump, there is a focus on increasing the energy efficiency of the pump.

The company’s retrofitting is programme orientated and includes a number of interventions to increase energy efficiency by ensuring that flow is better and that less electricity is used.

One of the retrofitting tasks is to typically install Vesconite bushings as interstage bushings in the multi-stage high and low-pressure pumps that it repairs.

The pumps that it repairs have used bronze bushings historically and this has been expensive and caused damage to shafts.

The Vesconite bushings, in contrast, offer the advantage of being able to run with small clearances, which causes less recycle, or less movement of pressurised water from the previous stage to the next stage.

Hechter notes that it is difficult to determine the exact energy savings that can be attributed to the bushings, but energy consumption is reduced in general following a refurbishment package.

“Capital and labour are expensive in Australia, so it is important to use retrofitting to return original equipment manufacturer (OEM) equipment to its original if not better state,” he notes.

Water utilities in the region continue to rely on the pump refurbishment firm, which is also a supplier of OEM pumps, seals and filtration systems, to refit their multi-stage pumps, and in the last four years several multi-stage pumps have been retrofitted with either Vesconite Hilube or Vesconite bushings.

 

 

A large manufacturer and supplier of trailer axles in the Asia-Pacific and Australia-New Zealand areas converted to Vesconite Hilube bushings in 2002, having used nylon previously.

The Vesconite Hilube bushings are made from an engineered polymer that is wear resistant, operates quietly and does not delaminate or distort under high loads. With built-in self-lubrication, the bushings last longer than bronze or nylon, and for axle manufacturers there’s an opportunity to extend their axle warrantees.

“The truck, trailer and bus industry is among the many industries for which Vesconite Bearings produces custom parts at its factory in Virginia, South Africa,” says technical consultant, Eddie Swanepoel.

“The S-Cam bushings are stock items, and the hope is that other axle manufacturers will also convert to Vesconite Hilube bushings, which will enable them to extend their warrantees.”

Vesconite Bearings has the largest machine shop in the Free State, with 60 computer numerically- controlled lathes and machining centres, and numerous large conventional lathes that are capable of machining bushings up to 3 000 mm in diameter.

As a result, S-Cam bushings, mechanical suspension bushings as well as other bushings can all be produced for the automotive and transport sectors.

Vesconite Bearings also has warehouses in South Africa, the US, UK, Netherlands and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore – so the supply of transport-equipment OEMs can be undertaken easily and quickly.

Vesconite Bearings boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.

 

 

The labour time spent on greasing bushings can be substantial.

Although some greasing globally is automated, much re-lubrication is performed by hand using a grease gun. This means that the time spent greasing one grease point totals between three and five minutes for the staff member involved, be they a lube technician, a maintenance engineer or the equipment operator.

This may not seem like a large amount of time, but consider that the average machine might have 20 grease points, with a typical excavator with a 1.4t bucket having 18 greasing points, a typical 213HP fly-wheel grader having 25 points, a typical 31t truck having 22 points, and a typical 7,7t bucket loader having 20 points. The time spent on greasing adds up quickly to between an hour to over an hour and a half for greasing one machine.

Still not convinced that greasing is time consuming? Consider that, while some grease points need to be greased weekly or monthly, some grease points might have to be greased once a day, seven days a week. For equipment requiring high-frequency greasing, the time commitment for lubrication could add up to seven to ten and a half hours a week.

In addition, depending on the size of the plant or the size of the fleet, total numbers of grease points may increase dramatically, adding to an already substantial lubrication labour burden.

With maintenance requirements already considerable, Vesconite Bearings technical consultant Eddie Swanepoel suggests switching to maintenance-free, oil-free, dry-running, corrosion-resistant polymer bushings, also known as plain bearings.

The time spent greasing could be more profitably used elsewhere, he argues.

 

 

VescoPlastics was awarded the Artisan Award at the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa’s (Seifsa) Awards for Excellence in May.

The award is given to a company federated to Seifsa that has the highest activity in artisan training each year.

VescoPlastics won the award based on the number of apprentices trained as a percentage of the company’s total permanent workforce.

The company currently has 11 registered apprentices and is in the process of registering 10 more.

VescoPlastics has 48 permanent employees, which means the total number of registered apprentices or candidate apprentices represents a massive 44% of the total workforce.

Vescoplastics chairperson Jean-Patrick Leger puts this in context. “Consider that the number of employees in the South African manufacturing sector totalled 1,191,000 in December 2016. If the same training ratio we have applied in our company was applied across South Africa, half a million apprentices would be in training.”

VescoPlastics has had a long-standing commitment to training artisans that dates back many decades. Since 1994 it has trained 27 apprentices in fitting and turning, electrical skills and boiler. Sixteen of these artisans are now formally employed by the company.

Leger believes that a similar commitment to training by other firms could stimulate manufacturing, increase gross earnings and potentially boost the country’s gross domestic product, making South Africa one of the world’s leading workshops.

 

 

The Electronics and Computer Science Department of the UK’s Southampton University has chosen Vesconite Hilube for various parts of an innovative low-weight sensor-rich prosthetic hand.

The polymer’s lower density (compared to alloys) was an important influencing factor in the decision to use it.

“A main constraint in the design of a replacement hand is that its mass should be kept as low as possible,” says primary investigator Paul Chappell.

As a result, the Southampton-Remedi hand uses carbon fibre sheet and Vesconite Hilube, with metals only used on the actuators of the electric drives.

Not only does the University’s research programme use Vesconite Hilube for the thumb of the hand, it’s been the material of choice for the ends of the worm and wheel shafts at the base of the fingers and thumb.

Vesconite Hilube’s self-lubricating properties mean that the gearbox does not require additional bearings at the end of the shafts, explains Chappell.

The Southampton-Remedi hand has four motors that move the fingers and two that allow for flexion (movement towards the palm), and extension (movement away from the palm), as well as rotation of the thumb.

The hand can grip and grasp objects securely, and the current prototype incorporates touch, position, slip, texture and temperature sensors.

Explaining the origins of prosthetic hands, Chappel says, “War often resulted in loss of hands, and this trauma led to the development of artificial replacements.”

“In the sixteenth century, Götz Von Berlichingen, a German warrior, and Ambriose Paré, a French surgeon, made hands from metal components.”

Various developments followed, including the split hook – a device that attached to the shoulders with leather straps and used the shoulder muscles to open the hand against a spring.

World War I and World War II, and subsequent conflicts, saw the rapid advance in these designs.

Southampton University has been at the forefront of some significant work on artificial limbs, and is also well known for the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure, which assesses hand function.

Vesconite is proud to be part of this valuable research endeavour.

 

 

Specialised polymer manufacturer Vesconite Bearings believes that its multi-continent sugar strategy will grow its revenue from relatively-new markets.

The company already has considerable expertise in African sugar applications and shared these applications with US sugar producers when it visited the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT) Joint Meeting, in New Orleans, in the US, from June 14 to June 16.

The polymer manufacturer also hopes to learn about bushing difficulties experienced by US sugar producers.

These pain points will be the source of prototype trials and eventually new applications, which should assist to inform all sugar producers about where Vesconite Bearings’ polymers can be used to good effect.

After the New Orleans Expo, Vesconite Bearings technical consultant Eddie Swanepoel will visit the KZN Industrial Technology Expo (KITE) from July 26 to July 28.

“Our polymers have been successfully used in underfeed rollers, hanger bearings, pump bushings, vertical crystalliser support bushings, feeder table bushings, mill housing side plates, long-travel-crane wheel bushings, ash settler sprocket bushings and lime bucket bushings, among other applications in the sugar industry,” he says.

“The knowledge gained from hard-wearing African sugar applications continues to be essential in converting other relatively-new markets to our products.”

Vesconite Bearings supplies sugar producers in South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Sudan and is starting to make headway in the US supplying sugar cane and beet sugar producers.

Expos such as KITE and South African Sugar Technologists Association Congress have historically proved invaluable in achieving brand recognition for the company’s polymers and, with the attendance of the ASSCT, and armed with a clutch of proven applications, further brand recognition for the polymer among global sugar producers is possible.

 

 

South Africa-manufactured Vesconite Hilube bushings have been successfully used as suspension bushings in a modified 4×4 vehicle at this year’s Dakar Rally.

Prior to Dakar, the polymer bushings were put through their paces at an endurance event in Argentina – a gruelling 9000km race across a tough terrain of sand dunes, mountains and salt flats.

According to our Argentina distributor Leandro Panzini (VesArg), “The previous material that was used lasted only one or two race stages, whereas Vesconite Hilube lasted for the complete Dakar race, as well as another shorter race.”

Apart from aiding suspension alignment, these bushings are an important component in general vehicle safety, driver comfort, steering and handling. This is particularly pertinent in the 15-day Dakar Rally, where vehicles are travelling between 100km/h and 200km/h over extremely demanding terrain.

In this particular setting, the bushings were exposed to rapid oscillating movement. Panzini says the Hilube performed way better than the original nylon-molybdenum bushings. “The bushings were used for the equivalent of two Dakars, and are still in good condition, thanks to Vesconite’s winning combination of low friction and high abrasion resistance.”

 

 

South Africa-based high-performance polymer producer Vesconite Bearings is arranging a roadshow to US earthmoving customers in June.

This is according to newly-appointed earthmoving representative Juan van Wyk, who is spearheading the company’s drive to have the earthmoving industry use the company’s advanced thermoplastic bushings in various types of earthmoving equipment, including load, haul and dump (LHD) equipment, back hoe loaders, excavators, wheel loaders, articulating dump trucks, graders, and crawlers.

Van Wyk, who is a recent graduate in mechanical engineering from the North West University, is passionate about problem solving and intends to discuss the development of custom components for specific machines and manufacturers.

The design of a particular component typically involves defining the problem, undertaking background research, specifying requirements, brainstorming solutions, performing development work, building a prototype, testing and analysing the results and possibly redesigning the component if necessary.

This approach, together with a partnering between Vesconite Bearings and earthmoving equipment users and manufacturers, should see the optimising of components and could result in improved efficiency, weight savings or longer component guarantees, among other potential benefits. 

“The US is a significant market for earthmoving equipment and is expected to show impressive growth in the coming five years,” says Van Wyk.

“We are expecting considerable growth from the construction sector with significant growth in new infrastructure development and renovation. The surface mining sector is also expected to support earthmoving equipment industry growth.”

Vesconite has been developed and proven in many industrial applications and has become the preferred bushing material where high loads must be carried with small clearances, including on pivot and articulation points.

The thermoplastic is specifically suited to solve the problems experienced in the harsh earthmoving environment, with Vesconite bearings offering various advantages, including the elimination of greasing and down time and the extension of the life of shafts and mating pins.

 

 

It is advisable for mining companies to consider converting brass components to polymer alternatives, says Vesconite Bearings’ Marius van Zyl.

Non-ferrous-metal thefts are associated with direct costs and the indirect costs of production losses, with one study finding that, while copper-related incidents comprised 51% of mine incidents on South African mines, they made up 73% of primary and production losses.

While copper cabling is the most worrying type of non-ferrous metal theft — since it is associated with possible endangerment or loss of life, with ventilation and transportation failure likely in the event of a power interruption, in addition to the substantial drops in revenue and profit associated with work stoppages — other brass components’ thefts are also a concern for mines.

This is because brass components are concealable, removable, disposable and available and so are also an attractive target for thieves. In addition, many components that are stolen are also not recovered and are only detected after a piece of equipment is found to be inoperable.

Van Zyl, who acts as the representative of Vesconite Bearings to the mining sector, believes that mining companies may reduce substantial losses if they convert brass components to ones made of the company’s polymers, including Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube and HiTemp 150.

He notes that, particularly in underground mines, items such as pumps are stripped for their brass parts long before they wear out.

“Our products last longer than bronze ones in many of the applications and are not sought after in the metals scrap market,” advocates Van Zyl.

“Using our polymers will reduce losses due to theft,” he comments.

 

 

A South Africa-based self-lubricated polymer bearings and bushings manufacturer, Vesconite Bearings, is proud that lost packages are becoming a thing of the past.

This is following the introduction three years ago of shocking pink packaging colours for all its outbound shipments.

Chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger had found that parcels were frequently lost after hand-over from the courier company to the airlines.

“It was unbelievable: sometimes shipments weighing tons would just disappear, only to be found months later in an airport warehouse hundreds of thousands of miles away from the original routing,” he says.

Parcels in nondescript brown packaging were typically found later, but after considerable frustration felt by irate customers as well as Vesconite Bearings staff, Leger adds.

With the introduction of bright pink packaging, with diagonally-worded text with website and telephone details, as well as a bullet-point invitation to contact the company for fitting and machining instructions and technical information, lost packaging has become a rare occurrence.

Leger notes that he was advised to choose packaging that stood out from the crowd, and considered pink, since this was a favourite colour of his late mother.

Various people tried to dissuade him of this colour choice, largely because the colour is strongly associated with women, who have traditionally not been a large market for the company.

However, the deeper pink hues of the Vesconite Bearings packaging seem to have resonated well with clientele, perhaps because analysts now suggest that fuchsias and magentas, as well as other deeper pinks, are considered vibrant and youthful, and are also associated with a sense of confidence.

Such seems to have been the thinking of other brands, such as T-Mobile, which has also chosen a similar colour for its brand to help it stand out among other mobile communication providers while adding life and energy.

Vesconite Bearings’ packaging colour seems to have had a similar effect.

The company ships rods, tubes, plates as well as finished items globally, and its packaging comes in various sizes, with a liner, corrugated medium, another liner, another corrugated medium and then a final liner of pink.

“It feels as if my late mother is watching over each package and ensuring that it does not get lost,” says Leger, reinforcing how the colour choice was initially inspired by his mother and is an ongoing tribute to her.

 

 

South Africa-based self-lubricated bearings and manufacturer VescoPlastics will be able to machine custom components faster and easier thanks to the introduction of a new 5-axis computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machining centre at its factory in Virginia, Free State.

The state-of-the-art Haas VF-11 machining centre has a 3,000 mm travel, and allows the cutting tool to move across the X,Y and Z linear axes and the workpiece to tilt and to rotate in any direction.

Among the many applications that it may be used on is in the machining of daggerboard casings for high technology sailing boats that are used as an alternative to fixed keels on catamarans, for performance boat builders.

Other complicated machining jobs are also to be carried out.

“The machining centre will allow us to complete complex projects quickly and accurately,” says VescoPlastics chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger.

“It will also save manufacturing time because components do not need to be transferred between machines for finishing,” he says.

VescoPlastics produces its proprietary brands of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings and wear plates that operate in dusty, dirty or wet conditions and still last longer than other products on the market.

The company also provides extensive machining services and has the largest machine shop in the Free State, with 60 computer numerically controlled lathes and machining centres, and numerous large conventional lathes that are capable of machining bushings up to 3 000 mm in diameter.

VescoPlastics has warehouses in Johannesburg, Texas, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand, with stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore.

Leger’s South African Bureau of Standards-approved and ISO 9001-accredited company boasts a staff of 71, 25 of whom are employed in the sales and administration divisions, with 46 in manufacturing.

The company also focuses significantly on training and skills development, and is currently mentoring 30 young people as part of its learnership and apprenticeship programmes.

VescoPlastics boasts customers in more than 100 countries, exports over half of its total sales, and dispatches large orders regularly to the US, China, South America and Australasia.

 

 

South African-engineered and manufactured sailing blocks will be available for sale to yacht enthusiasts soon.

This is the second batch of the products that is being produced, with the first batch having been used as test pieces or fitted onto yachts through personal contact sales.

“We waited until we were completely satisfied with the performance of the first range before actively marketing the products,” says Draco Sailing Hardware mechanical engineer Scheepers Schoeman.

“This is now the exciting phase of the new business, where we are setting up the website and full marketing strategy.”

Schoeman explains that sailing blocks are part of the rigging system that operates the running rigging, or the ropes, of a yacht.

“It is very important that sailing blocks are strong, reliable and serviceable. If the blocks do not perform adequately, the control of the sails are affected. Additionally, a catastrophic block failure can damage expensive larger equipment. For this reason, we designed our equipment to handle very high loads, while managing to keep the weight low,” comments Schoeman.

The blocks have undergone a multistage load test at an official lifting machine inspector. The blocks have been certified for their maximum working load and designed breaking load, with all blocks having met or exceeded design parameters.

The metal parts of the block have also undergone an accelerated electrolysis corrosion test to ensure that the products withstand long-term marine conditions.

South African-manufactured Vesconite is also included in the sailing block design.

“Vesconite is ideal for our application,” enthuses Schoeman.

“We need a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered plastic that is also dimensionally stable in water. Even more than that, we want to prove that we can beat the imported parts, not only on price, but also on performance with a completely local product. Vesconite ticks all of our boxes,” says Schoeman.

 

 

Those interested in Vesconite or Vesconite Hilube rods, bushings and plate are reminded that Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the two self-lubricating thermopolymers, has a Netherlands warehouse that can dispatch products to European customers within one day.

The warehouse has substantial stock of these standard items, and is able to supply these products to Europe much more quickly than would be possible from the South African factory.

Customers in Europe who order from the Vesconite Bearings Netherlands warehouse typically have their own machining capacity to machine the component that they desire.

The Netherlands has long been an important market for Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube, which is often used in the country’s strong marine sector as well as its water sector, in which pumps play a significant role.

Europe, in general, is a similarly strong market for Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube that will be used in the marine, agriculture and pump industries.

The polymers are particularly desired in the pumps industry in lineshaft, pump bowl and stuffing box bearings and in wear rings. These bearings and wear rings have been developed for global original equipment manufacturers as well as for repairers who use Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube in preference to various OEM parts.

The polymers do not swell, unlike nylon, and show low wear compared to acetal bearings. They thrive with water as a lubricant and are also suitable in dirty and poorly-lubricated conditions.

Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube bushings have solved thousands of bushing problems in demanding applications in many industries worldwide – especially in applications where there is a lack of lubrication, dirt is present or water is a problem. The thermo-polymer bushings ensure longer bushing life, reduce maintenance, reduce shaft wear, can run without grease and solve problems in wet conditions.

 

 

Vesconite Bearings is ensuring that its polymer products reach its Mauritian customers within two to three days of dispatch.

The South African-based manufacturer of Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube rods, bushings, plates and machined products has been engaging with its courier company to speed up delivery of its products to the Indian Ocean island.

The courier has since guaranteed that, if a shipment is booked in by 10am, it will be flown to Mauritius on the 1pm flight, and delivered to the door of the customer the following day, provided that there are no difficulties with customs clearance.

If the order is received after the required check-in time, it will reach customers one day later.

Vesconite Bearings’ Eddie Swanepoel informs that the Mauritian economy is dependent on the sugar, tourism, marine and fabrics industries, and that the company supplies many of these.

“There is good potential for exports provided that our products are readily available,” he comments.

Mauritian customers are highly-conscious of delivery times to the island when deciding on which components to order.

Many French and Chinese fishing boats, in particular, are repaired in Port Louis, and they know that a break down means a loss in production and lost earnings.

One of the dry docks does carry a small amount of stock for the production of deck equipment, rudders and stern tubes, but Vesconite Bearings’ recognises that it is important to have a convenient easily-obtainable source of its products in case of need.

The sugar industry is similarly sensitive to lead times that affect its production, notes Swanepoel.

Vesconite, Hitemp 150 and Vesconite Hilube are in demand from this industry because the the company’s bearings have been demonstrated to last a production season and not break down mid season.

However, the industry would like to be reassured that it can obtain Vesconite Bearings’ polymers and machined products quickly if required, says Swanepoel.

Mauritius is expected to grow by 3.8% in 2016 on the back of its key industry sectors, which are attracting significant investment and commerce.

 

 

Zimbabwe-based earthmoving-equipment hire business Replants Africa Investments attests that Vesconite Hilube seals are performing well on the company’s bulldozer’s hydraulic shift transmission.

The company maintains and repairs its own equipment and even makes its own components in some cases so, when the seals between the transmission housing and the rotating clutch housing on its bulldozer began to fail, Replants Africa Investments made its own Vesconite Hilube ones.

Replants Africa co-owner Doug Bawden, who has experience repairing equipment at different sites as well as a background as an apprentice fitter and turner, notes that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts he replaced were made of bronze, although another OEM manufactures the same part from hard plastic.

Bawden was inspired by the hard-plastic design of the other OEM. He also appreciated the ease of manufacturing seals from Vesconite Hilube compared to brass or mild steel and that the 90˚C temperatures that are common in bulldozer transmissions fell within the polymer’s optimal temperature operating range.

The former apprentice fitter and turner, turned earthmoving-equipment-hire business owner, made the seals on a one-metre lathe. He turned the outside diameter to the same size as the inside diameter of the housing and bored the inside diameter out to 2mm larger than the outside diameter of the inside of the groove in which the seals fitted. He parted the seal off around 0.2mm narrower than the groove and, lastly, split the seal with a Stanley knife and a sharp blow.

“I installed the seals in May and so far they are working well,” says Bawden.

“During the compressed air test to actuate each clutch to see if there are any leaks, they sealed better than the brand new OEM parts did,” he adds.

 

 

Thermoplastic bearing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings is tendering for the supply of the largest Vesconite pump bearings that it has ever supplied.

The bearings are believed to be required by a large water utility in Asia, and it is likely that they will be used in a hydro-electric project that pumps significant quantities of water over large distances.

This is surmised by Vesconite Bearings technical consultant Paul Potgieter, who comments that the bearing manufacturer has never had a pump-bearing order for pumps with shafts measuring from 490mm to 580mm in diameter.

“I would imagine that the bearings will be supplied to a hydro project,” says Potgieter, who is in discussions with a third party who is supplying a primary contractor for the project.

Bearings of this size would be typically supplied for marine applications in which they would be used in rudder and stern tubes, or would be supplied to the sugar industry, which sometimes requires similarly large bearings.

They would be desired because of their dimensional stability, since the polymer that they are made from does not swell, as well as for their good wear properties, since the lifespan of bearings made from this polymer is longer than that of many competing materials.

Potgieter confirms that the bearings are standard stock items but would need to be machined down to the exact sizes specified in the tender.

Other specifications that Vesconite Bearings has recommended to suit the material are that the bearings’ wall thicknesses measure 10% of the shaft sizes and that the bearings’ lengths are the same as the outside diameter of the bearings.

It is likely that, if the tender is approved, it will take a year to receive the final contract for the bearings.

This is because a pump of this size will take a long time to engineer, says Potgieter.

The Asia Pacific region is the leading consumer of hydropower, with the BP’s 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy noting that the region uses 40.5% of all hydropower energy that is produced globally.

China, India, Japan, Vietnam and Pakistan are among the countries with the largest hydroelectricity consumption in the Asia Pacific region.

 

 

Thermoplastic producer Vesconite Bearings is experimenting with new extrusion moulds so that it can introduce longer and thicker polymer wear plates into its product range.

In the last few months, it has successfully made Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube wear plates measuring 1000mm x 3000mm x 25mm and 1000mm x 3000mm x 20mm.

These are considerably longer than what was available previously in the company’s Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube polymers.

“This means savings thanks to higher yields,” comments chairperson Dr Jean-Patrick Leger, noting that the new sizes have stemmed directly from repeated requests from customers to extend the range of wear plates that the company produces.

The company is currently also investigating producing thicker plates.

In November, it started experimenting with 100mm thick plate, where the company had previously produced plate with a maximum thickness of 75mm.

“The 100mm thick (by 200mm wide) plate worked first time and is looking good,” informs Leger.

“We will now take samples and machine thin slices to see whether there are any flaws or stresses, but first impressions are favourable.”

The company hopes to introduce the thicker plates into its product range after thoroughly testing the production process.

Wear plates can be used in slides and guides; vanes in air motors, petrol pumps and rotary pumps; machine tool bed ways and slideways; camblocks; and sliding and wearing parts.

They can also be used to produce large bearing surfaces economically, either as cylindrical bearing inserts or stave type inserts.

 

 

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

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

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

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

The thrust bearings moved backwards and forwards and eliminated the vibration as planned, that might have otherwise lead 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 are 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,” comments Thoresen.

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

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

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

 

 

The South African manufacturer of specialist bushing polymers, Vesconite Bearings, continues to supply articulation bushings to an articulated dump truck manufacturer in the UK.

The UK branch of an original equipment dump truck manufacturer first tested the company’s Vesconite Hilube material in its articulation bushes in 2014, and established that they performed well in harsh operating conditions including in large-scale construction projects, quarries and mine sites.

The 355.95mm-outside-diameter polymer bearings were more expensive than the nylon ones that they replaced, but they were found to be more cost-effective and durable in the long-run, explains Vesconite Bearings bushings consultant Marius van Zyl.

The dump-truck manufacturer has since ordered 72 bushes for use in its 38t dump truck, which has a heaped capacity of 23.3m3 and an engine power of 331kW.

The bushings are used in some of the toughest job sites that dump trucks can be employed and are made of a low-friction material with self-lubricating properties.

“The long service life of the bushes and the reduction in maintenance is ensured even at higher operating cycles and continuous operation,” says Van Zyl.

Vesconite Bearings continues to supply various original equipment manufacturers, equipment repairers and plant hire equipment suppliers that undertake their own repairs.

The company has produced bushings for various graders, trucks, front-end loaders, back hoe loaders and trailers.

Its bushings are in use globally and are supplied through an international distribution network that includes warehouses in South Africa, the US, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand and stocking distributors in Argentina, Australia and Singapore.

 

 

A ship docking in Trieste, Italy, soon will be the first to install an extra large Vesconite rudder bearing under Vesconite Bearings’ renewed RINA, or Registro Italiano Navale, ship certification.

Vesconite Bearings was able to renew the certification for standard Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube and Vesconite Superclad with the global certification organisation that is recognised for its quality assurance and certification of vital ship components and accessories.

This approval for the polymers that are used in rudder bearings, stern tubes and some above-board equipment was completed through RINA in Germany on the 22nd November 2016.

Ship repairers tend to accept more than one ship certification, including Bureau Veritas, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK), comment Vesconite Bearings marine representative Sharon McArdle and quality assurance manager Jaco Prinsloo.

However, the client of the repairer in Trieste, a busy repair port with a medium-sized dry dock, particularly insisted on the RINA certification, they say.

RINA is regarded as an important marine product certification agency that guarantees excellence in the products that it certifies.

Vesconite Bearings is pleased to have this certification among its stable of marine certifications, which include those from the American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, Chinese Corporation Register, China Classification Society, DNV, NKK, Korean Register of Shipping and Lloyds Register.