What are Integrated Bearing Assemblies?

October 15, 2019

Integrated bearing assemblies group all required moving parts into one self-contained, precision-engineered component machine package. Each one of these devices is pre-assembled and pre-lubricated, so they’re classed as easy-to-replace system commodities. What’s more, since the parts package is so strikingly compact, it doesn’t occupy much space. That’s a desirable feature, especially in a densely loaded geartrain. In order to better understand their functions, here’s a look at an integrated bearing in action.

Integrated Bearing Assemblies in Motion

This is a mining screen deck. There’s dirt flying around, and the oscillating motors are introducing vibratory energy. In other words, this is a terrible place to put a high-precision bearing, but it’s also an application that absolutely requires such devices. In older machinery, a rolling bearing and a special mounting kit would’ve combined with a sealing plate and a lubrication fitting. Moderately efficient, all of those separate parts worked until one of their many seals failed. At that point, the dirt and vibrations undermined bearing performance. By replacing this multi-part solution with integrated bearing assemblies, system weaknesses are eliminated. Easy to maintain, the self-contained device protects all of its moving parts inside a single, seam-free housing.

Eliminating Sub-Assembly Weaknesses

Again, problems occur when separate rolling elements are paired to a couple of exposed circular races. Granted, the rolling cage and race interiors are protected by a tough labyrinth seal, which generally keeps dirt and fluid away from the frictionless inner workings. Still, especially when used in difficult conditions, conventional bearings tend to fail. Odds are, one of the seal edges has failed because of the seal-warping heat or the incessant vibrations. And that’s just for the above mining example. Imagine a chemical plant or oil refinery. There’s heat, caustic chemicals, high pressures and vibrations, and plenty of adverse industrial energies propagating through the sheet metal assemblies. By eliminating sub-assembly design practices, by reducing the number of seals and fastened parts, integrated bearing assemblies act as self-contained protective buffers.

Initially, this class of bearing is simply more compact than a similarly specced roller bearing. But we’re using the term “self-contained” in several ways. For one thing, by packing everything into one module, the lubrication system and moving parts function autonomously. The independent workings rely on one another and cannot be influenced by an outside force. The device also slots into tiny spaces within intricate gearing systems. Last of all, perhaps most importantly, that sealed package of high-fidelity technology can function without being impacted by a harsh outside environment. Chemical plant or mining complex, it doesn’t really matter, the integrated parts keep right on working.

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