Bearings should not only be capable to withstand high dynamic loads but also high vibrations, heavy shock loads, contamination, take care of shaft misalignment, withstand higher operating temperature and last longer, says Devkumar Davesar, Head - Sector Management, Schaeffler India. Excerpts from the interview...
How different are bearings used in agricultural and construction equipment over automobiles?
The bearings used in agricultural equipment (tractors) and construction equipment are more or less the same. These bearings are bigger in size as compared to automotive bearings. Agricultural and construction equipment bearings have to withstand higher radial and axial loads. They also have to transmit more torque. In construction machinery there is a need for higher load carrying capacity. There are some specific requirements of bearings too, slewing rings for example. We also supply clutch release bearings and clutches to agricultural equipment (tractors). We have also started developing mechatronic solutions for clients. These involve the integration of bearing function with sensors.
What type of bearings find use in off-highway and agri equipment?
The bearings used in off-highway machines include ball bearings, double-row angular contact ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, taper roller bearings, needle roller cages, insert bearings for appliances, plain bearings, rod ends, track rollers and customised bearings for harvesters, and planetary gear bearings. In construction equipment, we also have special cylindrical roller bearings LSL type, spherical roller bearings, full complement cylindrical roller bearings, slewing bearings for rotating turret support and spherical plain bearings for roller rotation. All these are heavy-duty bearings which need high load carrying capacity.
What is desired performance level of these bearings?
These bearings are required to perform in harsh environment which means bearings should not only be capable to withstand high dynamic loads but also high vibrations, heavy shock loads, contamination, take care of shaft misalignment, withstand higher operating temperature and last longer.
What is the nature of application in the agri and off-highway equipment?
In agricultural equipment, bearings find use in wheels, transmissions and attachments (harvester). Bearings need to be of low friction, longer life (special heat treatment) and ease of assembly. The application of agricultural equipment in farms is often under harsh conditions involving harvesting, seeding and rice puddling. In India, we also use agricultural equipment for transportation of people and goods also. Construction equipment have special requirement of shock load or vibratory loads with focus on long life. Therefore, heavy duty bearings are used for such applications.
What is the technology involved in the manufacture of such bearings?
The technology involved in the manufacturing of these bearings are conventional, and includes processes like forging, CNC machining, precision grinding, honing, pressure die casting, press tools, and injection moulding. The most important processes include assembly, which is specifically designed for that type of bearings, and to ensure defect-free products with mistake proofing being the name of game ensuring zero defect products.
What are the range of FAG/INA bearings for the agri and construction equipment sector?
FAG and INA are Schaeffler brands, and offer ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, taper roller bearings, needle roller bearings, slewing bearings, radial insert bearings, and clutches.
What are the new-age materials and non-traditional manufacturing techniques that are leading a change?
This includes special material (alloy steel) with combination of special heat treatment to enhance the life of the bearing, coating, and to prevent bearings for corrosion, use of composite polymer, glass reinforced polyamide material.
Who are your major clients in the agricultural and off-highway equipment space?
Our clients in the agricultural equipment (tractors) include Mahindra, TAFE, ITL (Sonalika), Punjab Tractor, John Deere, Case New Holland, and tier suppliers like Cararo. Clients in off-highway equipment include JCB, BEML, CASE, L&T Construction, Greaves, Wirtgen, Volvo, Altas Copco, Escorts, Liebherr, and Schwing Stetter.