Gerardo Angulo
Director General
Timken de México
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View from the Top

Timken Bearings for Demanding Applications

By Alejandro Ehrenberg | Fri, 04/03/2020 - 08:12

Q: What is your strategy for competing in Mexico’s mining sector?

A: To a great extent, our strategy focuses on excelling in the toughest applications. Take crushers as an example. Miners come specifically to Timken for applications in critical areas, where the stress levels are so high that it is critical to use durable and highly engineered bearings. Timken products are used in critical applications. They are high-quality products that exceed customer expectations. We also have split bearings that are used in places that are difficult to access and can reduce maintenance time. Timken bearings can be a little more expensive but also more reliable than other alternatives in the market, depending on the specific product. Timken’s use of special steel differentiates it. Our steel is heat-treated following the highest standards. We use carburization in certain applications, as opposed to total hardening. We are experts in the process of balancing steel’s properties by means of alloys and heating processes and aligning it exactly to the needs of each particular application. Moreover, the internal geometry of our products is carefully designed by our engineering team. Tension is spread out to make the products more durable.

Q: What problems does your technical and engineering team solve?

A: It can be simple issues such as those related to installation. If this is not done correctly, the life of the bearing can be reduced dramatically, causing sometimes catastrophic damage. Our engineering department must work closely together with the customer in order to solve issues, such as reduction in life due to the machine exceeding the design conditions, for example. If this were to happen, we could potentially modify or design a new bearing that would be able to help our customer.

As part of Timken’s continuous efforts to introduce solutions to the mining industry, we have included split housing units in our portfolio. They make maintenance a lot easier, eliminating the need to dismount the whole machine. Instead, it is only necessary to separate the bearing, which is made in two detachable pieces bolted together either vertically or horizontally. This can reduce downtime drastically. Savings can be extensive.

We document those savings in order to show them to our customer and replicate the savings in other areas. We work hand in hand with our clients to monitor performance. One of our products’ KPIs is durability. Timken always undertakes a multifactor analysis to provide its clients with the right solution. For instance, not all applications call for split housing units, which can be more expensive than traditional units and are not always appropriate.

We are also able to assist miners that are having trouble with their bearings, regardless of the source of those bearings. Our technicians can check the machine and take steps to try to make it operational again. The methodology we follow is to consult with the maintenance technicians at the client’s plant, who detail their main difficulties. We then work on a solution together. Often it is as simple as adjusting the bearing.

Q: How does Timken work with OEMs to make them more competitive?

A: There is a need, especially with underground mining, to manufacture equipment of smaller dimensions, without sacrificing loading capacity. This raises interesting challenges. Smaller equipment means savings in materials, but it also implies an engineering challenge, as you need to fit the same number of components into a smaller space. Timken is able to provide compact bearings and housing units that maintain their power and properties. We work with OEMs’ engineering departments to co-design certain aspects of their machinery.

We also help OEMs build more efficient machines, as our bearings are energy efficient and reduce overall consumption. It is all dependent on what the manufacturer and the end customer are looking for. We are able to collaborate with them when they innovate and select the right kind of bearing that caters to their needs. More than bearings we sell solutions, based on our products but focused on OEM needs.

Q: What value does the diverse portfolio of brands you represent in addition to Timken add to Mexico’s mining industry?

A: First and foremost, clients know us and know that we are serious about product quality. Therefore, the other lines of products that we carry are backed by us. They are premium in the market. They can be used in clients’ critical applications. It is also a matter of convenience. If we carry different lines of products, we can be certain that clients do not need to go to many different sources to cover their needs. We become a one-stop-shop for all bearing and power transmission products, offering a complete solution. We recently acquired Diamond Chain, for example, a brand that operates in a premium market, as does Lovejoy, Drives, Philadelphia Gear or Groeneveld-BEKA.

The Timken Company is a global industrial leader with a growing portfolio of engineered bearings and power transmission product brands. It has more than a century of knowledge and innovation geared toward improving the reliability and efficiency of global industries.

Alejandro Ehrenberg Alejandro Ehrenberg Journalist and Industry Analyst