North West based Bearings and Drives Limited is celebrating its recent success in working with Fine Decor Wallcoverings Ltd, delivering major efficiencies and securing significant cost-savings for the wallpaper designer and manufacturer.
Introducing to the firm an innovative offering, Bearings and Drives has provided Fine Decor with pioneering ceramic bearings, which saw the company switch from the traditional steel option. The linear bearings provided by Bearings and Drives feature an upgraded carriage, where the steel balls have been replaced with ceramic; invaluably, the rail has also been ‘hardcoated’ to enhance the wear capacity, improving the durability and corrosion resistance of the rails.
In the wallpaper manufacturing industry, printing machines feature doctor blades which control the level of ink that is transferred onto the printing cylinder, working to remove any access from the cylinder surface as it rotates and supplies the ink.
Without the doctor blade, the printing cylinder is unable to distribute the optimum level of ink and therefore the printing surface is at risk of being ruined. Working to the often high speed of the machine the doctor blade is supported by linear bearings on each side enabling it to oscillate. However, as the bearings begin to fail, the doctor blade stalls or starts to lift from the cylinder as it’s oscillating, resulting in a drastic change to the print for Fine Decor; once the ink lumps or lines on the cylinder, each and every metre of paper produced from the point is then waste.
Steve Bacon, Sales Director at Bearings and Drives Limited commented: “Reliability and efficiency in production is key for Fine Decor, as it is for manufacturers across many other industries. Once the bearings fail, the unit is then rendered out of action and repairs can typically incur a whole working day of downtime – and, around eight hours in direct engineer labour.”
Fine Decor utilises four sets of bearings and tracks per print unit, equating to a total of 64 sets across the company’s 16 units. The firm produces approximately 150,000 metres of wallpaper per week, on an average run across a five day period. Steve added: “The old, non-ceramic bearings that Fine Decor were previously using would often fail resulting in the doctor blade stopping and a significant amount of downtime being incurred.”
Jason Evanson, Maintenance Engineer at Fine Decor explains: “The previous non-ceramic bearings that we used, taking into consideration that six printing units would be in operation daily, would fail on average every 8-10 weeks so, it was critical that we started to look at alternative options. Having worked closely with BDL for over 20 years who have offered extensive support with many other engineering-based enquiries, Steve introduced us to the ceramic bearings – this was around six years ago now.
“Despite the initial heightened expense in comparison to non-ceramic bearings, the ceramic bearings that we now use last 10 – 12 months longer. They also require significantly less maintenance, prior to the bearings being replaced they would need to be lubricated twice monthly whereas with the ceramic bearings, it’s very rare that we need to do this at all.
“Switching to ceramic bearings has substantially mitigated the risk in the bearings failing, majorly reducing downtime and maintenance costs, while increasing production and output.”