The Importance of Effective Sealing Systems in the Conveyor Bearing Life

Blog | November 22nd, 2019

Let’s not beat around the bush, bearings won’t enjoy a long work life if their internal workings are contaminated. In all honesty, that’s one of the few weak points of their design. Ultimately, even a few grains of gritty dirt can wreak havoc on a set of high-performance rolling elements. They can’t function well, not for long, if there’s dirt mucking up their workings. Unfortunately, conveyor systems do get dirty.

Checking Out Conveyor Equipment Contaminants

Transportation frames tend to accumulate dirt. Underneath the decks, the situation’s even worse. There could be an oily film covering most of the exposed surfaces. Contaminants stick to this greasy film. Even conveyor systems designed to work in the food sector aren’t immune to bearing-aging problems. Sure, the dirt and grime are washed away at the end of a workday. A hose discharges a pressurized stream of cleansing water, then the contaminants flow down special drainage channels and out of sight. Only, now there’s water and a few grains of that washed away dirt entering a bearing’s housing. The rolling elements stick when the gooey muck dries. And don’t forget about the water; it’ll corrode the metal parts of the bearing or cause the oil to emulsify.

Installing Bearing Sealing Systems

A sad state of affairs has been outlined in the above paragraph. Essentially, without a seal of some kind to stop the contamination, susceptible bearing parts wear faster. Their expected lifespan is severely curtailed when their workings are corrupted by outside environmental factors. And conveyor systems generally create those mechanically unfavourable conditions. To protect the untainted bearing races, cages, and rolling parts, some kind of ingress protection barrier or mechanism must be added to the device housing. Lip seals have been doing this job for decades now. They’re accompanied by radial shaft seals and specialized labyrinth joints. The better the seal, the longer the bearing will operate and the fewer maintenance resources it will require. Moreover, superior bearing seals produce less frictional energy, which is yet another conveyor bearing aging factor to consider.

There’s the other issue, the fact that conveyor systems are dynamic and extremely active. If the bearings on a particular deck section are subjected to lots of loading or drop-impact energy, then they’ll wear faster. In response to this design qualifier, a rotating labyrinth sealing system keeps a rolling element lubricant stoppered and any potential liquid or solid pollutants wholly on the other side of the seal, where they belong. Non-contact seals are another option in scenarios like this, where frictional energies create massive heat loads, although they’re more susceptible to leakage issues.

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