Moving the Mining Industry ForwardMon, 10/21/2013 - 15:23
More than 60 different industrial sectors rely on rolling and plain bearings, making it a highly strategic product that must be factored into companies’ daily processes in order to keep operations going, whether they are a cement plant, a company in the paper industry or in the mining sector. Bearings represent the backbone of all mechanized rotary movements powered by engines. “Bearings move the world, and without them neither vehicles nor machinery would be operable,” says Thomas Pubanz, Vice President and General Manager of Schaeffler’s Industrial Division, a leading manufacturer of bearings worldwide.
The Schaeffler Group’s objective is to ensure that it has the largest portfolio of all of the bearing manufacturers, and its industrial division strives to be the market and technology leader for bearings and related systems by providing optimal solutions for all market segments and offering customized products and services worldwide. “We are very well positioned in the market for bearings, since we do not depend only on the industrial market but also have solutions for different kinds of businesses,” Pubanz explains. The main brand of Schaeffler’s industrial division is FAG, which is well positioned in the market. INA is another company brand that also has some products for the industrial market, such as cylindrical rolling bearings without cages, which are used in cement plants and other industrial sectors, although INA is the company’s trademark for automotive bearings. The company also has a branch in the US focused on the aviation industry, called Barden, which makes high level products. “With all these brands together we are very well positioned, because if one industry is struggling we will always have other markets in which we can move forward,” adds Pubanz.
The ability to turn innovative strength into high quality products is a decisive factor in the success of Schaeffler, which has three research institutes in which it invests between 6% and 8% of its worldwide annual revenue to come up with new developments and stay on top of the game. For the mining industry, the company developed a new patent called X-Life bearing, which receives different heat treatments to make it stronger and to give it a longer lifetime. “This innovation has been very successful because the normal spherical rolling bearings were not lasting as long, causing significant financial losses for mining operations. We are always looking to make our products smarter and tougher, to help our clients to achieve their goals and increase profitability. If you go to a big mining company you have to design a plan that will help it reduce the total cost of operations. For this, you have to come up with better products and better prices,” Pubanz stresses.
The X-Life bearing has been Schaeffler’s flagship product for the mining industry because of its performance under extreme conditions. This product lasts much longer than regular bearing products because of the steel treatment it receives and its special coatings. “We worked really hard to develop a product like this and we have had great success, not only in Mexico but all over the world,” Pubanz remarks. Another product that has revolutionized the industry is its split spherical bearings, due to their practicality in maintenance. In the mining industry, longwall shearers, shaker screens, haulers, draglines, crushers, screeners, and conveyors use bearings. All this equipment is critical for the continuity of mining operations and they all depend greatly on the bearings employed. Companies have to make sure they are using technologies that can improve their efficiency, reliability, speed of operation, and increased service intervals. Therefore, they also have to guarantee they have sufficient spare parts on site to perform the necessary adjustments. In order to become a trusted resource for both equipment manufacturers and mining operators, Schaeffler is working hard to understand its mining clients’ needs and how to enhance their operations in order to reduce their total production cost. “To be successful in the mining industry you have to make sure that your strategy is not based on a quick sale; we have all the time in the world, and we make sure we are using it wisely,” Pubanz adds.