The food and beverage sector has been a long-held area of focus for NSK, which is one the world’s largest manufacturers of rolling bearings. Specific to this industry, NSK rolling bearings feature highly relevant design attributes such as rustproof materials, sealed construction and lifelong lubricants that are compatible with foodstuffs.
Continuous, high-speed operation and the most stringent of hygiene standards and operating conditions call for reliable, robust bearings that facilitate cost-effective production. Outstanding performance and maintenance-free operation must be assured, despite having to withstand high temperatures, water and chemicals. The bearings must also prevent any contamination of foodstuffs safely and reliably.
Bearing applications for food production include raw material, primary (cutting and mixing), secondary (moulding), conveying, inspection, heating and packaging processes, while beverage applications focus on bottle moulding, filling, sealing, inspection and packing.
To help simplify the bearing choice in such processes, NSK has renewed its catalogue entitled ‘Solutions for the Food and Beverage Industries’. This comprehensive publication features an overview of the sector and highlights the individual needs of food and beverage processing lines. Core products are also presented.
One of the principal products highlighted is NSK’s Silver-Lube mounted unit series. Silver-Lube units comprise high-grade stainless steel bearing rings, cage and balls, with seal core and grub screws, grease nipple, and bolt-hole liners. Further design features include nitrile rubber seals and stainless steel flingers, along with a thermoplastic polyester resin housing. The bearings are factory filled with a wide temperature USDA H1 food-grade grease.
Also featured is the Life-Lube series of mounted units, which combine the corrosion resistance of a Silver-Lube housing with the sealing and lubricating attributes of Molded-Oil bearings. Of particular importance, Life-Lube bearings are suitable for wet environments, including those that use process fluids and/or chemicals.
NSK’s Molded-Oil bearings are another prominent product in the new catalogue. Deployed extensively in food and beverage plants, Molded-Oil bearings not only prevent the ingress of contaminants such as water and particulates, but no lubricant can escape the bearing and enter other parts of the machine, where it could conceivably contact food. These bearings are equipped with a proprietary oil-impregnated material that consists of lubricating oil and a polyolefin resin with an affinity for oil. The carrier material releases the lubricant continuously over a long period, ensuring the operating environment is kept clean as no grease is released and no oil refilling is needed.
A further special catalogue section focuses on greases for food-processing machinery, revealing that NSK has developed the world’s first 100% food-derived grease lubricant. H3G grease is NSF-certified under category H3, offering low torque, excellent water resistance and little leakage in environments where the machine is exposed to water. The grease can be deployed in applications up to 90 °C, with H1R grease extending to 120 °C and H1B to 200 °C. Both H1R grease and H1B grease are certified according to Muslim halal and Jewish kosher standards.