Bearing the energy burden in water treatment

The water industry is one of the largest industrial users of energy. The UN estimates that 0.62-0.87 KWh/m3 is required for wastewater treatment and it is estimated that electricity costs account for around 40 per cent of all operational costs in wastewater treatment plants.

Moreover, US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has projected that, in wastewater facilities, 10–20 per cent energy savings can be reached through a better control and optimisation of the process.

It is therefore in the best interest of the environment and the economics of wastewater treatment plants, for operators to find efficiencies in energy use.

One component that plays a significant role in energy efficiency of the water treatment plants is the bearings, according to Tony Tormey, BSC’s Product Manager of Industrial Bearings.

“Bearings play an important role in the overall efficiency and sustainability of a water treatment facility. The energy savings might seem negligible but if you consider all of the gearboxes, pumps, aerators and electric motors that use different types of bearings, it makes sense,” he says.

BSC, as Australia’s largest distributor of bearings, offers the FAG X-life bearings by Schaeffler – a German-engineered brand that carries energy efficiency at the heart of its bearing designs.

Andreas Pieper, Manager of the Engineering Department for Schaeffler Australia, says Schaeffler’s FAG X-life bearings are designed with precision manufacturing techniques and incorporate design features that result in lower friction and therefore less energy consumption.

“The FAG brand consists of a wide range of cylindrical, tapered, and spherical roller bearings, axial spherical roller bearings, single and double row angular contact ball bearings, and four-point contact ball bearings – each offering a unique combination of features,” says Pieper.

“The X-life is a seal of quality and high-performance by Schaeffler. With the X-life series, Schaeffler has incorporated design and manufacturing improvements that increase the bearings’ load ratings, offer higher precision and improve energy efficiency.”

Surface finish plays a major part in the energy efficiency of the X-life series, according to Pieper.

“Smooth and uniform internal and external surfaces improve the bearings’ coefficient of friction. Schaeffler also uses a machining process – known as Plateau honing – that improves lubrication control and lowers friction in the bearings,” he explains.

While the bearing life depends on multiple variables, including the type of bearing and the application it is used for, Schaeffler estimates that a FAG X-life bearing lasts on average 7-20 per cent more than conventional bearings used for the same purpose.

BSC’s relationship with customers does not end with the sale. Tormey says the BSC sales and engineering staff work with the Schaeffler engineering team to solve any problems that a plant might be facing. The BSC team also offers site surveys, store surveys, plant mapping and onsite training upon request.

“When we visit a plant, the BSC and Schaeffler engineering teams make sure that the customer is using the right bearing with optimum specifications. We also look at the sealing arrangements to make sure that the bearings are protected against any ingress of dirt or water,” says Pieper.

“Our advice might be as simple as suggesting better protection against the sun, because heat exposure and ultraviolet rays accelerate the ageing process of the rubber material thus leading to earlier damage of the rubber seals.”

In some remote areas in Australia, the pump houses between the reservoir and the treatment facility are located kilometres away from a residential area.

“Using real-time condition monitoring can have great benefits in such cases,” he adds.

Popular hardware to enable this is the cost-efficient FAG SmartCheck unit which communicates signals wireless. Schaeffler experts regularly analyse and report the condition of the bearings.

Tormey further points out how important it is for water plant operators to have parts readily available. CBC’s footprint across Australia and partnership with Schaeffler means that customers have access to critical components at all times.

“BSC’s seasoned staff across our national branches are ready to assist customers with all sort of rotation needs. With Schaeffler’s superior FAG X-life product, we are confident that we can add value to your operations.”

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One-stop-shop services for the Recycling Plant sector

Australia’s recycling plants are working harder than ever. A number of factors are contributing to the “24/7, 365-day” operating service recycling plants are having to provide, including the restrictions of recyclables imported to China imposed in 2018.

Up until the ban, Australia had sent 619,000 tonnes of recycling waste to China annually. This caused a strain on local recycling plants. Enabling seamless 24/7, 365-day operations was first and foremost on its mind when BSC Australia targeted its house-brand supply of industrial consumables to recycling plants.

Marlin offer a range of products which include chemical cleaning, materials handling goods, and lifting and hoisting equipment. The industrial consumables stream, secondary to BSC’s core business of bearings and power transmission solutions, was established with the intention of providing a one-stop-shop service to the industries they look after, according to National Accounts Manager Wayne D’Souza.

“The extensive range of industrial consumable products that BSC has to offer outside of bearings and power transmission is an attractive proposition for our customers. Ultimately, they’re looking at reducing their tail-end spend, and including these product ranges in their overall scope of purchases from us,” says D’Souza.

“Generally, our customers haven’t thought about us for this and they’re quite impressed when we start demonstrating the range we’ve got.”

“The industrial consumables range is really a valued-added solution for our customers. Many of our customers and contracts are looking to rationalise their supplier base to save valuable time and money and our BSC valued-added solutions go hand-in-hand with increased efficiencies in procurement and supply chain strategies,” says Industrial and Engineering Consumables Category Manager, Dominic Arena.

BSC uses international and local suppliers for the Marlin range of products, with full control of the sourcing and supply chain, allowing for full traceability from the manufacturing stage through to the end user.

“Through this distribution method we can also offer customised solutions for real-world problems that our customers may face with product development and technical engineering at the forefront of what we do,” says Arena.

BSC also has the technical capabilities to be able to customise its products to suit the different industries it supplies.

“We can offer customised solutions as well, because we have that technical engineering product development capability, which differentiates us from the standard distributor who just walks in and sells right off the catalogue. We’ve got eyes and ears in the field that pick up on feedback and customer needs, and we’re able to develop products and product ranges that suit their requirements,” says Arena.

Through this field experience, BSC saw the challenges to recycling plants that Marlin can alleviate.

“In these recycling plants, there are a lot of extremely heavy, awkwardly-shaped products moving around at a high velocity,” says Arena.

“You’ve got lots of equipment and lots of operators. Having the correct load restraint equipment that’s properly labelled for the weight and the dimensions is essential to ensuring best practice for how things get moved around.”

By improving visibility and enabling a better flow of movement throughout the plant, the materials handling products ensure safe practise as well as preventing the loss of time that results from on-site injuries. One of the most important factors to keeping recycling plants and their machinery operational is keeping them clean.

“If contamination or foreign matter were to get into bearings or critical pieces of equipment, it could cause catastrophic failings,” says D’Souza.

“It could just be something as simple as dust, or it could be heavy, chunky grease that forms over time; that’s just as dangerous as having dust. You’ve got to remove that because that can not only contaminate the recyclables, but it can get into some of the equipment that we provide, such as bearings, and lead to stoppages. It can also cause an OH&S issue when its dropping on factory floors, making it unsafe at the workplace for traffic to go through.”

The chemical cleaning products Marlin supplies can be used while the machinery is running. To break down contaminants, such as built-up dust, oils, and thick chunky grease, users can spray and wipe down machinery components and equipment without needing to slow down operations. Best practice, however, says D’Souza, means sometimes having to shut the equipment down now and then. However, Marlin enables this down time to occur less often.

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